New Peterborough and Fenland police chief reveals two key priorities
Aged just 35, Supt Kate Anderson has a degree from the University of Cambridge and is now heading up policing in Peterborough and Fenland.
It is an impressive CV for the English graduate who was born and raised in Peterborough and whose family still lives in the city.
The former West Town Primary pupil - who later attended Oundle School - is a champion for her hometown, and since being elevated to the role of area commander for the north of Cambridgeshire earlier this year, one of her main aims has been to make people feel safe when they go out.
The other priority is tackling knife crime through a whole host of techniques, ranging from a heavy police presence in known hotspots to inspiring greater community cohesion.
Building a better rapport with residents is a regular theme during the hour-long interview with the Peterborough Telegraph, whether it be encouraging people to sign up for ‘insight’ days alongside officers when the pandemic allows, or having a greater presence among neighbourhoods to build trust and encourage reporting of offences.
“It’s that sense of making it a warm and wonderful place,” Supt Anderson said. “When I think about the pandemic, what I’ve observed over the last year is people have come together in a way which I haven’t seen in my lifetime.
“In our street there was a Facebook group and people were picking up people’s prescriptions and dropping off food parcels for people. Everyone was really coming out together and looking out for their neighbours.
“There is that sense of how does that continue and how do we build community cohesion longer term.”
The new chief, who has been learning the ropes alongside departing area commander Supt Andy Gipp (who recently retired), is encouraged by the recent award of £430,000 of a safer streets fund to make parks safer, including installing more CCTV, and she would like to see Peterborough’s street artists decorate all of the city’s underpasses to make them “more appealing”.
“I love walking down Ferry Meadows or going to the cathedral or going to the shops down Lincoln Road. This is a wonderful city and I want people to feel safe and to get the best they can from it for many years to come,” she said.
And when it comes to knife crime, there is more Supt Anderson wants to see done to not only arrest those carrying the weapons, but from discouraging people to leave their homes while armed in the first place.
She explained: “Last month we had 44 arrests for knife-based crimes in the county. We are a really safe county, but I don’t want to get into a position where that’s normalised, where young people feel like they need to carry weapons.
“The more we can do as a police service to proactively get out there, to speak to people who we think are carrying knives to disrupt them, but also to get into schools and educate people about the dangers - it’s hugely important.
“From a public perspective, the police are only one part of the problem solving. I don’t think anybody wants to live somewhere where there are individuals taking weapons out from their homes.
“So the public need to report this. And even if they don’t think they can speak to the police, we have online reporting or they can do it through Crimestoppers.
“If you’ve got a young person and you are a parent or a guardian and are worried about them, speak to their school or safeguarding lead, get some advice. It’s about trying to stop people from getting in a position where someone gets hurt.
“There’s a whole host of things we can do. We’ve got Operation Guardian at the moment which is a policing operation aimed at targeting and disrupting those people causing the most harm.
“We’re using some overt policing techniques - so you might see more visible policing in areas where we’ve got intelligence to suggest there are people carrying weapons, but we’ll also use some covert policing techniques as well.
“There’s also work we can do with hospitals, where people are coming in and we think there’s an injury that might have been caused by a weapon. Do we have ourselves or a youth weapon going in to speak to them to understand what’s going on?
“I also think there are things we can do with retailers in terms of the selling of knives, and postal delivery with people ordering things on the internet.
“There are a broad range of things we need to start looking at as a service. It starts with visible policing, people going out and speaking to individuals and getting information and seeing whether people have knives on them and successfully prosecuting those individuals, but there is a broader piece here. I’d much rather they weren’t carrying weapons in the first place.”
More from the interview will appear on the Peterborough Telegraph website in the coming days.