I recently met with Dinnington Town Council.
It was by video conferencing, which the clerk ensured went smoothly.
Although this is not the same as meeting people in person, it does enable everyone to have their say and for me to hear what is on people’s minds.
I need to hear what people are saying at a grass roots level otherwise I only have what police tell me to go on.
What I learn is crucial information at this time because I am just putting the final touches to the police budget for the coming financial year starting in April.
What people told me in the Dinnington meeting I have also heard from other places.
People want, above all, a more visible police force.
I think we can do this in the year ahead because I am proposing to increase police numbers substantially.
The government is funding an additional 149 officers in South Yorkshire as part of their national commitment to put back the 20,000 posts they cut in the past decade.
They realise these cuts were a terrible mistake, allowing the drug-dealing gangs to expand their markets.
But I will go beyond that and fund a further 79 posts using local resources.
This means that there will be 228 more officers arriving, some of whom will be deployed into the Rotherham district.
Not all of these posts will be visible – because we need detectives and undercover officers as well as uniformed police.
But I will make sure the neighbourhood teams are strengthened.
As the Dinnington councillors said, we need those local police and PCSOs if the police are to pick up vital local intelligence.
Some people asked whether we could ‘re-open’ Dinnington Police Station.
The old, dilapidated station had not been open to the public for over twenty years.
It was sold sometime ago, so we can’t ‘re-open’ what we don’t own.
But in any case, the way people contact the police has changed.
During the lock downs, many, who in the past only used a phone, discovered that they can go on line.
Earlier this month the police introduced a new way of reporting non-emergencies or getting general information, through an on line portal.
The same portal also enables those who want to web chat, to do so in real time with call handlers twenty four hours a day.
In turn this relieves pressure on the 101 service.
So significant changes and improvements to the policing service in 2021.