Assistant Chief Constable Mark Pannone recently joined North Yorkshire Police, where he holds responsibility for crime and specialist operations. Here, he sets out the top three goals he wants to achieve in his first year with the force, and explains why they’re important. He says:
Ask someone who isn’t familiar with North Yorkshire to imagine what policing here looks like and there’s a good chance they’ll describe a bobby on a bicycle ambling through the tranquil green hills that make up his crime-free beat.
It’s certainly true that neighbourhood policing, with local officers and PCSOs who are an integral part of their communities, remains at the heart of policing in North Yorkshire. It’s also true that North Yorkshire is still an incredibly safe place with a very low crime rate.
But there’s so much more to policing a vast, rural county than some people imagine.
The things that make North Yorkshire so attractive can also make it vulnerable.
For example, our large and sparsely-populated rural areas are attractive to criminals and organised crime groups. They come in from outside the area to steal high-value agricultural goods, or set up drug supply chains in unsuspecting communities.
Vulnerable people are attacked and exploited in our communities every day, through horrific behaviour such as domestic violence or child sexual exploitation. Everyone assumes these are ‘big city problems’, which is true. But the incorrect assumption they don’t happen here can make it even harder to tackle them.
As lead for crime and specialist operations, I’m responsible for North Yorkshire’s policing response to these issues.
So as I start my role as Assistant Chief Constable, I am setting out my top three goals for my first year and explaining how I’ll deliver them:
- Goal 1: I will ensure North Yorkshire Police continues to lead the way in tackling rural crime. Our award-winning Rural Task Force is the biggest team of its kind in the country and has made enormous strides in this area in recent years, working closely with neighbourhood policing teams, Rural Watch volunteer groups and the wider rural community. In particular, I want to reduce the criminality and harm caused by those who travel into North Yorkshire from other parts of the country to exploit its rurality. To do this, we’ll keep using innovative approaches that join up our resources to identify and deter rural crime before it happens. Some of these will be visible to the public, such as using our Roads Policing Group, but we will also use more covert tactics to stop criminals committing crime in North Yorkshire.
- Goal 2: I want to make sure we protect all vulnerable people in our communities. Working with other organisations to stop people coming to harm is key to this. That’s because it allows us to share important information and intervene at the earliest opportunity. So I want to develop the work we already do with partner organisations. In doing this, we can reach more people who suffer domestic abuse, mental health issues and are subjected to child sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation. It’s not true that these are just ‘big city’ problems – they’re happening in rural communities across England, including ours.
- Goal 3: We do an excellent job policing 6,000 miles of roads, and I want to ensure they are as safe as possible for everyone who uses them. Due to the fact we cover everything from motorways to winding moorland passes, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to this. So we’re currently considering the tactics we use on each type of road with a view to reducing deaths and casualties as much as possible. Roads policing is ultimately about keeping people safe, and enforcement is an important part of this. But I also want to see an increase in road safety education, especially for groups of road users we know are most at risk, including young people. Alongside these changes, we will also continue to work with other organisations to ensure the roads themselves are engineered to be as safe as possible.
I have no doubt that achieving these three goals will be tough and a lot of work, but I am confident it will benefit communities right across North Yorkshire. At the same time, I also want to ensure we understand what the public wants.
As the pandemic makes people feel distanced from one another like never before, we must make sure we stay connected to the communities that we serve.
There are many ways we already do this, and it’s important to me that we continue to listen to communities when we make decisions that affect them. British policing is founded on the idea of policing by consent, and this has to remain at the heart of everything we do.
I spent the bulk of my policing career at Cumbria Constabulary, policing an area with many differences to North Yorkshire but even more similarities.
I learned a lot in my 26 years there, and it’s a privilege to be able to use that knowledge and experience to help shape policing across North Yorkshire. It’s my ambition to do that in a way that makes England’s safest county even safer.
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