Saturday 2 March 2024
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Police marathon runner takes up new neighbourhood role

A marathon-running police officer has vowed to focus on catching criminals before they offend as he takes up a new role as a neighbourhood police inspector.

After a 17-year policing career spent mostly chasing and arresting criminal suspects in a variety of response roles, Inspector Jon Hewitt is relishing the opportunity to do things differently in a neighbourhood policing role.

The dad-of-two, who has run more marathons than he can remember and also taken part in Iron distance ultra-triathlons, is now just as focussed on catching up with criminals them before they offend, and on combating lower-level anti-social behaviour that causes upset to residents.

He said: “When I was a response officer, rule one in my book was that nobody gets away. Mostly they never did, but the longer I have spent in the police – often dealing with the same people over and over again – the more interested I have become in what we can do to stop people from offending in the first place and also stopping people becoming victims of crime.

“It really is a great feeling to catch somebody in the act of committing a crime like a burglary. It’s exciting and it’s what the public rightly expects of us, but neighbourhood policing is equally about the things we can do to stop those offences from happening in the first place. That could be through proactive interventions with potential offenders, or by supporting potential victims to improve the security at their homes.

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“It’s also important that we spend just as much time and energy on addressing the concerns people have about anti-social and nuisance behaviour in their community.

The Ashfield neighbourhood policing team currently works in partnership with the district council to maintain regular contact with people who have been who have previously been found in possession of a knife.

A similar pre-emptive approach is being taken with dependent drug users who are responsible for a significant proportion of burglaries and theft offences.

Officers from the team have also been working hard to reach out to local young people and strengthen their relationship with the police by hosting a series of free weekly football sessions held in partnership with Nottingham Forest.

Inspector Hewitt, who grew up in the Retford area, added: “The main difference between neighbourhood and response policing is time. Because we’re not going from job to job and problem to problem he have the time to look more closely at what is happening and why.

“We can look at some more creative ways for addressing the problems in communities that go beyond just locking people up for a few months at a time.

“Ultimately it’s a carrot and stick approach. We will make that carrot as big as possible for people but if they don’t take it when it’s offered, we will resort to the stick and come down hard on them.”

Officers from the neighbourhood policing team have also undertaken a wide range of activities to improve contact with former members of the armed forces, people from Eastern European communities and people from LBTQ+ backgrounds.

Inspector Hewitt added: “There has been some fantastic work going on over the last 18 months and I would like to thank my predecessor Chief Inspector Mark Dickson for all his hard work during this period.

“The good news is that neighbourhood policing in Ashfield is currently in a very good place. We have more officers than we have had in a long time and he are already working on a number of exciting initiatives that I believe can bring about significant changes in the lives of local people.”

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