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The changing face of crime - and which areas are best served by firefighters?

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Fire engine availability sinks to a third in some parts of Norfolk

The majority of the public see a fire engine in a station and assume that it is always staffed and ready to go.”

Those were the words this week from one staff member at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in response to figures leaked to us about the availability of the county’s fire engines.

Of Norfolk’s 42 fire stations, 35 are staffed purely by on-call firefighters – that is people with other jobs who live or work within five minutes of the station. That gives us a cheap service, but it also means that if at least four on-call firefighters aren’t available at any point then neither is the fire engine.

The pumps are meant to be available 90pc of the time, but from the start of October last year to mid-January, the leaked data shows massive discrepancies from station to station.

In Loddon, for example, the pump was available for as little as a third of the time some weeks and on average it could only respond to a fire around half the time.

At the other end of the spectrum, Attleborough could rely on its fire engine being available 96pc of the time.

On average Norfolk’s on-call pumps could respond 82pc of the time in this period. That is some way from the target, but the service’s head of operations, Richard Dromey, insisted the county was well covered.

But former on-call firefighter Tristan Ashby accused the service of “giving up” on trying to recruit enough people in some areas.

One service worker warned that they day Norfolk had two major incidents there would be serious trouble. That was thrown into sharp relief this week with 10 engines were needed to quell a devastating fire at the historic Beachamwell Church.

The changing face of crime

The pandemic has been tough on burglars but a boom for fraudsters, according to the latest crime data.

With more of us either being forced to, or choosing to, spend more time at home over the last two years, the scope for opportunistic burglaries has narrowed.

But fraud offences are up 17pc in a year.

As reporter Joel Adams discovered, even when the fraudsters are caught, many victims feel like justice hasn’t been done as they are left severely out of pocket, while the money has long gone by the time the police catch up with criminals.

The other type of crime to see a big rise was stalking and harassment offences. Police say part of this can be explained by changes in how they are reported and they welcomed the rise saying it showed more women (for the majority of victims are women) felt confident coming forward.

One victim we spoke to, however, was less sure. She said: “They’ve not been very helpful and made me feel it wasn’t really worth my time reporting the offences.”

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