'We were failing the public but we are going in the right direction,' admits Northamptonshire Police chief

Ch Cons Adderley with some of his officers. Photo: Northamptonshire Police
Ch Cons Adderley with some of his officers. Photo: Northamptonshire Police

'We were failing the public but we are going in the right direction,' admitted the Northamptonshire Police leader as he reflected on his first year in charge.

Chief Constable Nick Adderley accepted the criticism the force has received about safeguarding children but believes improvements are already being felt since 'significant' changes have been made.

Chief Constable Nick Adderley with his report

Chief Constable Nick Adderley with his report

He repeated that a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services will make for 'unpleasant' reading but many of those issues have been addressed as they relate to the previous way the force was run.

A costly reorganisation of how Northamptonshire Police operated was scrapped and staff have been full of praise after being given clear priorities to allow them to do their job, the chief constable added.

"It was was a number of things, obviously the reductions that were made in staffing numbers through austerity, that did not help, and there was a restructure of the force that came from a good place in terms of people wanting to make it more streamlined and efficient," he told us.

"But it didn't work and the bottom line is I came in and despite that new model had only been in place six or seven months when I arrived and had cost significant amounts of money.

"I think one of the failings in past as a police service is they're too slow to respond and say, 'this just isn't working so we have to do something else', and that's what I did so from day one I was dismantling that model because it didn't work, it was failing the public.

"It was absolutely failing the public and that makes my response to the inspectorate very clear as they were right, they triangulated exactly what I'd seen, found and heard.

"That's why we're changing significantly and have changed significantly over the 12 months so far to make sure that we're delivering that service that the public quite rightly deserves."

Of the changes made, Ch Cons Adderley said they have a dedicated missing person unit, the long queue of assessments for the managing sex offenders team has been 'eliminated', and they are working 'more closely' with Northamptonshire County Council.

"So all of that is happening and we are starting to see that difference already and if the inspectorate came back tomorrow, they would see a very different safeguarding regime here in Northamptonshire," he said.

Ch Cons Adderley said his report looking back on the last 12 months to recap the work he has overseen since joining Northamptonshire Police on August 6, 2018, was important to him to celebrate their successes.

The report cites numerous trend-bucking statistics for crimes going down, as well as crucial work with gangs, dedicated teams for serious organised crime, roads, domestic burglaries and missing people, and campaigns.

Overall he is 'incredibly proud' of the force for all of the hard work put in over such a short period of time, which he believes shows officers agree with the changes being made.

"I'm incredibly proud of the force, the force has responded incredibly well on the demands I've placed on them and they have been fairly significant, it's been thick and fast, in terms of the way policing generally operates," he said.

"The way we've moved over the last 12 months has been an electrifying pace compared to how things normally move, and I'm incredibly proud of the way the force has responded.

"I think what that tells me, what I draw from that, is that this is the appetite that the force had this is what they wanted and officers and staff were telling me, 'we just want to do our job.'"

"So it's removing some of those shackles, giving them the priorities and focus to go down a particular line and concentrate on those things that the public has said are important to them, and giving them the confidence to do it."

The statistics support Ch Cons Adderley's optimism - crime and burglary fell by over a third, detection rates for burglary has gone up by seven per cent, and those killed or seriously injured on the road has reduced by 14.2 per cent, bucking the trend across the country.

But he admits that more work is needed in getting the message across to the public and making people feel safe.

"You could have 5,000 police officers working in Northamptonshire and there would still be murders and there will still be stabbings and there will still be crime, it doesn't matter, the numbers are not important, it's what you do with those numbers," he said.

"The county has, certainly over the last 18 months, suffered an inordinate number of serious crimes and murders, I think we're on 14 now, which is unheard of, it's a really worrying trend but it's starting to abate.

"I think some of that is about making sure we're investing more in schools, in early intervention so that we're deterring people from crime, we are doing better in the way we deal with intelligence now, we're acting more swiftly and more quickly with the intelligence we get to take off knives and guns from the streets."

Ch Cons Adderley has spent more than 30 years in policing, spending 18 years at Cheshire Police before moving to Greater Manchester Police, where he stayed for a decade.

He was Assistant Chief Constable at Staffordshire Police before getting 'his biggest job yet' in Northamptonshire, a county and a force he has grown to love.

"I really like to be able to put my arm around the county and be able to connect with the staff, that's really important to me and that's where I get my energy from," he said.

"It was really attractive because it was struggling, there's no point taking over a high-performing force as it can only go one way, and secondly there is a real family-friendly feel here where if you can get the tone right, the rest will sort itself out.

"It's a big job but it's brilliant."