New chief constable promises review of the way the force handles traveller camps in Northamptonshire

The new chief took a tour of St James and Semilong with local beat officers on Friday.
The new chief took a tour of St James and Semilong with local beat officers on Friday.

The new man in charge of Northamptonshire's police force has pledged to review the way it deals with traveller camps on his first walkabout of the town.

Chief Constable Nick Adderley spent Friday afternoon walking the beat in St James and Semilong with the local neighbourhood policing team.

New chief constable Nick Adderley says the county force is reviewing the way it handles traveller camps after recent criticism.

New chief constable Nick Adderley says the county force is reviewing the way it handles traveller camps after recent criticism.

Speaking in his first interview with his newspaper, the 52-year-old former Royal Navy officer said the force was in need of extra funding and, with resources light, would need to be more honest about the way it attends low-level crimes.

He also revealed that he had already brokered a crisis meeting over the spate of traveller camps in Northampton - which have recently led to strong criticism of the county force.

He said: "I want to reassure your readers that I have asked for an emergency meeting with the senior leaders of Northamptonshire Police to discuss a strategy.

"What we will be doing is to look at refreshing any policies in place currently around dealing with travellers."

Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

Pictures by Kirsty Edmonds.

But chief constable Adderley said the police are restrained by legislation.

Forces have powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act to eject traveller groups where there have been reports of vandalism or anti-social behaviours.

But he said they were "resource intensive" and, in many cases, required the landowners to take responsibility as well.

"Whether we like it or not, travellers have rights under the law and the Human Rights Act," he added.

"It's very difficult to prove who committed offences - particularly where individuals have damaged things.

"But I will say, where it is clear an offence has been committed and a suspect identified, we will bring them to book.

"Where it is necessary for us to invoke the section 61 powers more robustly and quickly, we will do that."

Chief constable Adderley, who started at Cheshire Police in 1992 following a career in the Royal Navy, said there are a "myriad of issues" facing policing in Northamptonshire from the rise of gangs, to cyber crime, coercion and cuckooing, where drug dealers take over homes before using them for illegal means.

But he admitted the current restraints on resources would require a rethink of the crimes officers actually attend. He will also be enacting a review in a bid to get officers spending less time at their desks and more time on the beat.

"There will be certain crimes we will no longer be responding to in the same way," he said. "What we have to do is to be really clear in assessing the threat of harm.

"Where there are no active lines of enquiry, we have to deal with things in a different way.

"When someone's car is stolen for example, there is no point sending a police officer out to look where it is.

"We need to be doing more work to help the public understand that so we can focus our officers on the areas it is most needed - issues like stopping gangs from setting up here."

But from his first week in charge, the new policing boss, 52, said he had been impressed by the commitment of the force's staff.

"This is a force that works well with its communities, it engages well," he said.

"The really important for me is that we build relationships with the partners in our communities.

"If you don't get that right, you are never going to get the information or the intelligence you need."