Meet Boston’s new police community inspector – who is keen to boost social cohesion and change some negative perceptions of the town.
Insp Andy Morrice joined Boston Police just over a week ago after moving from the Skegness station. He has been with the force for 22 years.
Speaking to the Standard about challenges of policing the town, he said: “I think the biggest problem here is perception. Boston really is a safe place to live, but some people don’t feel this to be true. I also see that community cohesion is an issue. I think we really need to start promoting some visible benefits of our diverse town. Why do we not have a weekly international market, for example?
“When you travel to places like London, you can clearly see the benefits of diversity, and I think there is a lot of work needing to be done here.
“I have already started speaking with Boston Borough Council about this.”
Insp Morrice said he was pleasantly surprised when he arrived in Boston and found the town to be different from what he had come to expect.
He said: “Having walked around the town, I feel it has been given a lot of undeserved bad publicity recently. I found everyone to be really friendly, and there are a lot of people who take pride in their town and are willing to work with us to make it a better and safer place. I think it’s time we started publicising all the great things Boston has going for it.”
Asked about the issues Boston does have – and how he plans to tackle them, he said: “I know already that street drinking is a major issue to many residents of Boston, and I think maybe we have not been so great at publicising all the work that has been done in relation to this.
“The police fully support the council who have put a Public Space Protection Order in place. This effectively means anyone found drinking alcohol in the defined area is obliged to surrender it. If they fail to do so when asked it is an offence, which can be prosecuted. I have sat with my teams and the council, and we have used this legislation over 400 times. Each time we also take and record name and address.
“In the vast majority of cases, there have been no repeated problems. This initial seizing of alcohol, supported by a follow-up letter, has got the message home.”
He added a small minority re-offended, and Boston Police were looking at pursuing prosecutions for these people.
“I’m aware that in some cases there are other underlying issues that turned people to drink in the first place, and prosecution is not always the answer,” he said. “It alone will not stop people.
“We are working with other support services such as Addaction, the Drug and Alcohol Recovery Team, community mental health teams (CMHT), schools, Boston College and other key workers, to look at supporting these people out of their addictions.
“I am currently looking at violent crime, shoplifting and getting ready for street drinking as the weather improves. We have re-launched Op Grinch which puts officers out in plain clothes to tackle shoplifting. I am looking to meet with store managers to ascertain how we can better work with them to effectively reduce this sort of crime.
“We also run Op NOVA (No to Violence and Abuse) for violent crime. It is apparent that traditional violence patterns outside pubs/clubs is falling dramatically, but there is an upsurge in violence within a dwelling, which is a real challenge to us. Domestic violence forms part of this.”
Insp Morrice says he believes an increase in cases of violent crime in recent years is partly down to an increase in the number of people having the confidence to report it.
“Violent crime will not be tolerated, and offenders should expect to be prosecuted,” he said. “We will shortly have body-worn cameras in Boston for all officers.
“It is anticipated this will capture the circumstances, making reliance purely on the victim less of an issue.
“It should significantly improve evidence, make life easier for the victim, and therefore increase the number of people sentenced as a result.”