On Friday 27th April One Voice held the first of a series of formal Breakfasts at the Spurriergate Centre.
Chief Superintendant Ian Spittle and Chief Inspector Barry Smith were the guests of honour at the breakfast, who both spoke to us about the work of the police in the area.
CS Spittle, having served 20 years in the North Yorkshire Police is the area commander for York and Selby. CI Smith is in charge of neighbourhood policing.
David Lavery of Kings Church who had driven the group organising the event, introduced the guests to us.
Ian Spittle began by addressing us on his belief that policing is one of the few true vocations left in our nation. He said that the police had to show:
– Professionalism in conduct and efficiency at all times
– Passion for what is right and for helping people
– Pride in the organisation and role of the police and also in the community they serve.
He also told us that there was good news! There have been 2225 less victims of crime in the last year and an overall drop in reported crime in York over 3 year of almost 25%.
He gave us specific aims for his 637 staff in York which included:
– Increase customer satisfaction
– Reduce Anti-Social Behaviour
– Reduce the fear of crime
– Reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.
We also heard about the pressures on the Police:
– Time pressures
– The ability to focus on the issues
– Work/life balance
– Balancing Home Office Targets with Community needs.
The Police have a book of targets they fondly refer to as the Argos Catalogue (a reference to its thickness). Funding is released to the force depending on their performance to target, and 94% of the York budget is staff, so achieving targets is necessary to maintain the staffing levels.
CS Spittle finished with the thought that he would like to explode the myth that all our young people are bad. He said that a small minority have a disproportionately large impact on our communities and that we as church leaders should do everything we can to engage with young people. His cry was “How can we work together on this?”
CI Barry Smith started by reminding us that the prisons are full – which must mean the police are doing their job, but that we missed the point when we just ‘put people away’ and need to create opportunities in which people can be nice to each other. He talked about different local initiatives such as JAG (Joint Action Groups), Safer School Partnerships and Key Individual Networks which are all about communication with the community and hearing what people see as their needs for policing.
We heard that young people were particularly worried about speeding motorists and he told of a recent event where speeding cars were stopped near schools and young people were then given the chance to ask motorists why they were speeding.
He encouraged us to find something for young people to do and to encourage them to engage with the police.
Barry Smith also said that as a Christian himself he has been pleased to see the start of an informal network of Christian Police officers in North Yorkshire who email each other for encouragement and prayer.
A Q&A time allowed opportunity for Christian Leaders to ask their own questions.
The joint chairs of One Voice prayed for Ian and Barry and all those working in the police force. Other leaders also raised their voices to add their prayers.
We are so grateful for the willingness of the police to engage with the churches of York and we must continue to pray for them as with them we serve the community together.