MORE boots on the ground, higher visibility and less bureaucracy, are the promises being made by Gloucestershire police, as they seek to revolutionise the fight against crime in local communities.

This week, chiefs at the county’s police force have launched a new neighbourhood policing strategy in response to public concerns that their local communities were being side-lined.

Gloucestershire Police is also in the process of mapping every school in the county who will have dedicated school liaison officers. They will also train rural liaison officers so that there are specialist officers within communities.

Superintendent Paul Dutton, head of neighbourhood policing in Gloucestershire, said only 10 per cent of people in the county know who their local PC is and he has challenged his officers to use the new strategy to change this statistic within six months.

“I want them to get out and about in the neighbourhoods and become really well known”, he said.

“In rural areas such as the Cotswolds it’s more challenging because we’ve got less staff but a much bigger patch so I want to look at using technology in those areas to communicate with people.

“This includes online conversations and web chats. I’ve got a vision in my mind to start using drones or quad bikes, for my staff to be out and about to cover large areas of ground very quickly to ensure we can be seen and deter and prevent crime.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing that.

“Although there isn’t an increase in staff, patrol locations will be identified and officers will go to the areas where they are most needed.

In the areas where we know we have the most demand we will start to see connectivity from PCSOs on the ground. So I hope the public will start to see more boots on the ground and more fluorescent jackets as we go about business in those areas.

“The staff we’ve already got is what we are already using. This is about having a structure and a process, stripping out bureaucracy, and getting them in the right place, doing the right job with the right training.”

Chief constable Rod Hansen said: "All policing begins and ends in a neighbourhood. It’s where we need to be to keep people safe and, more importantly, it’s where the public expect us to be.

“The officers will not be patrolling without a purpose. I expect them to know their neighbourhood and the people living in it. That means being at the school gate to talk to parents; it means going into care homes and sheltered houses to talk to residents about the issues that are concerning them; it means attending the events that matter; and it means listening to what you are saying.

Police and crime commissioner Martin Surl said: “I have felt for some time that neighbourhood policing has been allowed to slide down the list of police priorities, a view borne out by what people have told me. That is why it was an important strand of my campaign for re-election and is fundamental to my Police and Crime Plan. 

“Engaging with the communities they serve is absolutely crucial if the police are to achieve their number one task of protecting the public. The bond between police and public is what makes policing in the UK different from anywhere else in the world. And whilst there is no doubt seven years of austerity has undermined that relationship, I am pleased that the constabulary is focussing on it more”.