New kid on the Norfolk crime block reveals his policing priorities
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Norfolk's new police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie has formally taken office with the task of appointing a new chief constable one of his most pressing concerns.
The former soldier who officially took up office on Thursday (May 13) after being elected earlier this month, insisted Norfolk's place as one of the safest in the country "hasn't happened by accident".
He said it was due to the fact "we've got a really good leadership and a really good constabulary" although as the "new kid on the block" he recognised there were things which needed working on.
But what are among his immediate priorities?
More visible policing
“I campaigned on a particular agenda and I'm carrying that agenda into the preparation of the police and crime plan.
"I do have to do a consultation exercise and the public might give me different priorities but I start with more visible policing.
"The public would like to see more visible policing and many people I saw on the campaign trail would love a return to what I would describe as Dixon of Dock Green policing.
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"They would like to see a police constable on the beat and we’ve got some serious problems.
"The police are working flat out but so much of that happens outside the public’s view and so you have this expectation gap between what the public would like to see and what the police are able to deliver if they do their primary job of fighting crime.
"The police are very conscious of it and as we come out of lockdown they have said to me already they are going to be working on restoring visibility and that’s important."
Tackling high harm crime
"Dealing with the high harm crime - things like domestic abuse which accounts for 26pc of all recorded crime in Norfolk, things like county lines drugs, the organised rural crime gangs out in the countryside.
"I'm also going to put into that bearing down on the horrible toll of deaths and serious injury on our roads."
"Looking after victims. I think a particular angle there is having a look at the criminal justice system.
"I’m concerned it’s taking too long for victims of crime to see their cases reach the courts.
"It's also too long for people accused of crimes justice delayed is justice denied for both parties."
Addressing issues which create crime
"Police can be the first responders for so many things and in many incidences, they are responders for much more than core police business.
"If we can first get rid of the issues that cause crime we can address some of the societal problems that would remove crime altogether.
"But even when they have to respond to issues like mental health we need to make sure others come in and engage as they will be better placed to deal with that. It’s the whole partnership piece - bringing together all the different agencies of the state, Bringing together any private businesses and above all charities that do such fantastic work.
"If we all work together in a coordinated manner we will have a much greater effect on the ground in the interests of the public of Norfolk for victims for people who night become either victims or perpetrators."
The constabulary and 2030 policing vision
“The final one on the agenda is taking a long, hard look at the constabulary itself.
"Maintaining a plan to sustain Norfolk Constabulary I think will be very important because the bottom line is without a police force, without police officers we don’t have law and order in Norfolk - the thin blue line fades away.
"I’m a great believer that leaders should have visions and I want to look at Norfolk 2030.
“I appreciate that is way beyond my current tenure but if I don’t consider it now the constabulary won’t be ready for the challenges of 2030 so it’s work that needs to be factored in now."
Who is Giles Orpen-Smellie?
Norfolk's new police and crime commissioner served as a soldier for more than 30 years.
Giles Orpen-Smellie, who was earlier this month elected the county's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), is a retired colonel who served from 1978 to 2012 with the Parachute Regiment which included tours in the Falklands, Northern Ireland, the first Gulf War, the Balkans, Sierra Leone and Iraq.
After leaving the army Mr Orpen-Smellie worked in interim management in the charity sector, reviewing charitable purposes in order to identify sustainable future business models.
The 61-year-old, who is also a member of the Ministry of Justice's War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Tribunal, has been married for more than 30 years and has two grown-up children.
He lives with his wife near Fakenham where they both enjoy keeping some sheep, hens and lots of bees as well as growing their own vegetables.