Story: Seraphin Nyirenda
We invited Inspector Adrian McWalter to our office to talk about his new role managing the Burngreave, Shiregreen and Firth Park Safe Neighbourhood Area for South Yorkshire Police.
Adrian has been a police officer for 23 years and an Inspector for the last three. He has a background in policing gun crime and has come to his new job with determination.
What’s it like policing in Burngreave?
Policing in Burngreave for me is obviously a challenge. I take personal pride in making Burngreave the best area in Sheffield. At the moment, Burngreave is in the best 6 areas for crime and antisocial behaviour, not the worst. I think this is something people overlook.
People in the area complain about the poor response from the police. How do you prioritise calls?
Incidents are graded: we have an immediate incident where somebody is at risk of injury or harm. The next incident is a priority incident. After that we’ve got a scheduled incident, which is where my team comes in, picking up anti-social behaviour, criminal damage or low level drug dealing. Every morning we decide on the priority and I deploy the officers to that area for that day. With anti-social behaviour, we have to decide the right action to take. Kids playing in the street is not anti-social behaviour and we might have to explain that to residents. But if there is a real problem, we might work with other organisations, for example putting in place alternative activities for young people.
People continue to tell us that they have seen drug dealing and reported it but nothing happens. What is happening?
That is a very good point. We have to think intelligently and we may deploy non-uniformed police. We have to gather enough information before we can act. People should continue to report problems to us if the problem continues.
Some people feel the police are not sensitive enough. They think they will not be protected. Do you think this is a problem?
I totally agree that it is a problem. We must make people secure in knowledge that the information reported is safe. I don’t feel we sell our successes enough – if we did, I think it would increase the trust people have in us to do our job. There are times when we get it wrong but we learn from our mistakes.
None of the Burngreave police team are from black and ethnic minority communities – why is this and do you think this is a problem?
I have one officer from a BME background; the rest are white. Here in Burngreave, I have to work to break down barriers and increase engagement. I think if we do our engagement job right, people from minority communities will see the police as a career for them too.
Many said you did a good job of support at the a march against gun crime on Saturday 15th March. How do you feel it went?
For me it was about celebrating the fact that Burngreave isn’t the Wild West. There are people out there who are willing to stand up and say Burngreave is a good place. Days like that, where you come away with a big smile on your face, don’t come very often. It was a really enjoyable day for me and the community spirit was fantastic.
I understand that the Police’s work in Burngreave is not done and if people have got an issue, please contact me on 2964621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.