New South Cambridgeshire police chief: ‘We can’t investigate every crime’
Superintendent Adam Gallop, the new area commander for the south of Cambridgeshire, has explained that modern policing means not every crime will be investigated.
With resources stretched and major crimes that put people in danger a priority, other offences such as burglary, car theft and cycle crime – where members of the public are not hurt - may be marked for no further action to ensure officers are used to best effect.
The new area commander – who takes over from Supt James Sutherland in looking after Cambridge, East Cambridgeshire, South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, told the Cambridge Independent that he wanted to be honest with the public, so they could understand the ‘invisible’ policing that goes on to make the area safer.
Quite often, crimes are filed at an early stage
He said: “Each crime will get looked at for lines of inquiry and its solvability factor. And the issue in particular with burglaries, is that it’s a challenge to catch a burglar. But invariably when you catch one they will have been responsible for a number of crimes.
“So, yes, it’s difficult. Quite often, crimes are filed at an early stage. Part of that is about dealing with volume but also dealing with that efficiently. And what’s the most important thing, I think, is that we identify who those real prolific offenders are, and we target them in an appropriate way.
“So it may well be that we don’t identify who’s responsible for the majority of burglaries, but we know who is committing those offences and if we can get them locked up for one offence, then that’s a good result for us and that’s where we can have an impact upon bringing crime down.”
If there are no viable lines of inquiry, then the victim of that of that burglary needs to understand that
His main focus, he explains, will be on arresting the most dangerous people in the community, responding to incidents and crimes efficiently to ensure swift positive outcomes for victims and safeguarding vulnerable people.
He added that he would concentrate on combating theft, reducing harm to communities, county lines drug dealing, street-based violence and organised crime.
“Overriding all that is a desire to increase public satisfaction and getting our response right,” he said. “The key message for policing is to be really honest when people have been in contact with us, so they understand a little bit about how this crime investigation will work.
I’d love to see a police officer on every street corner and if we had the resources to do that it probably would prevent a bit of crime
“If your house is burgled, I expect a certain level of service to be delivered at a certain level of investigation, but if there are no viable lines of inquiry, then the victim of that of that burglary needs to understand that so we need to be honest about what the next next steps are, in that we can’t do anything in this particular case, so we’ll move on.
“(We will) try and target individuals rather than necessarily target the investigation of each individual crime because it’s just not practical from a results point of view in terms of risk and reward. But if we know who our burglars are, and we can target our burglars, then we will have a good impact.
“I’d love to see a police officer on every street corner and if we had the resources to do that it probably would prevent a bit of crime, but it certainly wouldn’t prevent all of it. And that notion of visibility, I think, has been around for generations. When I was in Ely in the early 2000s we were clearing out some correspondence and found a message from the parish council in the 1960s complaining about lack of police officers on the street. So I’m under no illusions and that’s something that the public have always demanded and will always demand.
“I know from my time on neighbourhoods, which was a few years ago now, the issues that concern the neighbourhood are anti-social behaviour, noise pollution, speeding vehicles and road safety, and all those things are important.”
But he adds that “looking at domestic abuse, child abuse, modern day slavery and fraud and crimes of that nature, which are largely unsighted by the majority of the community, I can’t believe that anyone would stop us and say no you shouldn’t be prioritising work working on those”.
Cycle crime, which remains a major problem in Cambridge city, did come down slightly during the pandemic. However, while Supt Gallop acknowledges it is still a major problem he does not believe police have a role in preventing cycle theft.
He says: “I think what the police need to do is understand our role within cycle crime. So, I don’t have a plan around prevention because I trust the cycle community that they understand prevention.
“There’s no point me sitting here talking about cycle locks and CCTV and property marking because the community understands all that. I think our role is in catching villains, and delivering positive outcomes and prosecutions and making the environment as hard as possible for cycle thieves.
I haven’t explored the status of CCTV at the train station yet, I must confess
“I started working in Cambridge in 1996 and cycle crime was a major issue then for the city. It’s a major issue now, and in my first couple of weeks in a job when I’m looking through some of those cycle crimes and some of the people we’ve got in custody, who are suspected of it, it’s the same people, or people associated with the same offenders on many occasions that I was dealing with 20 years ago.
“So for me it is a constant battle to make the environment as hostile as possible, by arresting and charging but also just engaging with cycle thieves to to make it uncomfortable for them. But I’m under no illusions that is that is really challenging because of the sheer volume.”
When challenged that prevention of cycle theft could be improved with better monitoring of CCTV at the train stations he replied: “I haven’t explored the status of CCTV at the train station yet, I must confess.”
Supt Gallop brings with him a huge amount of experience. His career began at Parkside Police Station 25 years ago and has seen him work in a variety of roles including three years in Ely as the neighbourhood inspector. He has spent time in the CID (criminal investigation department), in intelligence, acquisitive crime, public protection, covert operations and most recently in the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit.
He says: “Some people might recognise my name from Ely. I came to Parkside police station in 1996. From 2009, which is when I left Cambridge, I specialised as a detective and I’ve worked in public protection for three years, which is hugely challenging and rewarding.
“I’ve worked in covert operations, which has been incredibly exciting and the longest period of my time - six years - I spent in the major crime unit, investigating homicide and kidnap. And that was the real sharp end of risk during that period of time. I met some extraordinary families who had lost loved ones in the most horrific set of circumstances, and being able to deliver some sort of service and closure and support to families under those circumstances, was really humbling. And I’m very proud of those years, but I think what I try and take most from that period and from my career as a detective into this role, I hope, is an understanding that victims are affected by crime, no matter how serious.
“We just need to be honest to do the very best job that we can for each individual victim.”