Suffolk police launch new policing tactic

Project Servator – a policing tactic used to disrupt a range of criminality, including terrorism – is launched in Suffolk this week.

The approach, which sees police, businesses, community partners and the public working together, is already in use in various parts of the UK, including across the whole of London after it was pioneered by the City of London Police in 2014.

Project Servator sees the deployment of both highly visible and plain clothed police officers, supported by other resources such as dogs and firearms officers. The deployments can happen anywhere and at any time and include police officers specially-trained to spot the tell-tale signs that individuals may be planning or preparing to commit a crime. The officers involved have to demonstrate a nationally-recognised level of competency before they can become operational.

The tactics have been developed and tested by security experts at the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) in partnership with the City of London Police.

The deployments are designed to make the environment as uncomfortable as possible for criminals to plan or carry out their activities.

The deployments, to be led by the three Kestrel teams are designed to make the environment as uncomfortable as possible for criminals to plan or carry out their activities and increase their fear of detection.

The ‘Kestrel’ or Neighbourhood Crime Proactive teams play an important role in supporting the force’s capability to deploy into particular areas to target crime and engage with communities, supporting local policing priorities.  

Inspector Matt Breeze said: "We are really pleased to be launching Project Servator in Suffolk. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to talk to local businesses and staff about the importance of being vigilant at all times, and to work with them to keep everyone safe and add another layer of security to our existing policing methods. It’s important to say we are not doing this in response to any particular threat.

“A big part of Project Servator focuses on the engagement between officers and members of the public who will work together to act as an extra set of eyes and ears and report any suspicious activity.”

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passsmore said: “I really welcome the force’s adoption of Project Servator as an addition to their operational policing tactics. Originally used as a counter-terrorism tactic, this proactive. partnership approach has been widened to support the fight against all criminal activity. I am sure it will work extremely successfully in Suffolk as it will greatly assist with improving public engagement and confidence.

“This clearly demonstrates the Constabulary is always looking to use new techniques to prevent and deter crime, keep homes and businesses safe and bring criminals to justice – something we all support across Suffolk.”

Sophie Alexander-Parker Chief Executive of Ipswich Central said: “It’s great to be collaborating in partnership with the police in terms of providing a presence on the streets to make sure we are keeping people safe and tackling criminality. We are all behind this and we are looking forward to our street rangers being involved as and when they need to be.”

You have a vital role to play in helping the police by reporting anything that doesn’t feel right, for example an unattended item or someone acting suspiciously. Report suspicious activity immediately to a police officer or member of staff or call police on 101. Suspicious activity is anything that seems out place, unusual or doesn’t seem to fit in with day-to-day life. If it’s an emergency, for example if you find a suspicious package, always call 999.

During a one hour patrol of Ipswich this morning (9 June) officers recorded three incidents of possession of suspected drugs, they collected 12 pieces of intelligence and located one missing person.

For updates on Project Servator search for #ProjectServator on Suffolk Police’s local district Twitter accounts. Future Project Servator updates will also be located on this page.

You can report terrorist or extremist content online via Action Counters Terrorism (campaign.gov.uk)

**Servator is a Latin word which means ‘watcher’ or ‘observer’.

Details of the Kestrel team can be found here> Two new teams tackle neighbourhood crime across county | Suffolk Constabulary

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What is Project Servator?
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Project Servator describes police activity that aims to disrupt a range of criminal activity, including terrorism, while providing a reassuring presence for the public. The approach relies on building a network of vigilance made up of business and community partners and the general public. Project Servator is different to traditional policing, as officers involved are specially-trained to spot tell-tale signs that someone may be carrying out hostile reconnaissance – information gathering that may help them plan or prepare to commit a crime.

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Should the public be worried if Project Servator comes to their area?
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Law-abiding members of the public should have nothing to fear if they see a Project Servator deployment in their area. These are normal police operations designed to disrupt a range of criminal activity and create a network of vigilance against those intent on committing crime, including terrorism.

Our research tells us that the majority of the public are reassured to see the police, businesses, community partners and fellow members of the public working together. Around 2,000 members of the UK public have been surveyed about their attitude to Project Servator deployments. The individual surveys have shown that between 57% and 73% of respondents found the deployments reassuring.

As part of Project Servator, police officers will talk to members of the public about the deployments and how they can help. We also encourage people to ask officers questions if they have any concerns.

We rely on the public to be our eyes and ears. They have a key role to play by reporting anything that doesn’t feel right, for example an unattended item or someone acting suspiciously. We ask the public to report suspicious activity immediately to a police officer or their local police on 101. Suspicious activity is anything that seems out place, unusual or doesn’t seem to fit in with day-to-day life. If it’s an emergency, always call 999.


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What type of person is being targeted?
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Project Servator is used to target people based on their behaviour. If someone is displaying tell-tale signs that the police presence is making them particularly nervous, for example, they will be stopped and spoken to. Individuals could also be stopped as a result of something else that brings them to police attention, such as a vehicle defect. If after a conversation and/or search there is no further cause for suspicion, the officers will explain why the person was stopped.


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What will the public see when a Project Servator deployment is happening?
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Project Servator deployments are normal police deployments, but they are unpredictable, so the public can expect to see them pop up anywhere and at any time. Don’t be surprised or alarmed if you see them and weren’t expecting to. We encourage the public to talk to the officers involved if they want to find out more. Working with the community is a vital part of Project Servator disrupting terrorism and other criminal activity effectively.

The number of police officers involved will vary from deployment to deployment. Not all aspects of the deployments will be apparent. For example, in addition to uniformed police officers, there will be plain clothes officers present, along with CCTV, ANPR and other measures that may not be visible to the public.

If there’s a Project Servator deployment in the area, there’s nothing to worry about. As part of their activity, those involved will talk to the public and local businesses to let them know what they are doing and remind them to be vigilant and report any activity to police. Officers may also hand out leaflets explaining what Project Servator is or put Project Servator posters on display.

You should always know when a Project Servator deployment is taking place – this is not an undercover policing tactic. Project Servator deployments will never involve solely plain clothes officers – they will always be working with uniformed police officers.

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Where did the idea come from?
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Project Servator was developed, tested and refined over a five-year period by experts at the Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) in partnership with the City of London Police. It was first introduced by the City of London Police, who adopted the collaborative community approach in early 2014, aimed at further protecting the City and reinforcing the existing ‘ring of steel’. It was also used during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow by Police Scotland and partners in the summer of 2014, to build on and complement the Games’ safety and security plans. 25 police forces have adopted or are trialling Project Servator tactics.

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How do you know Project Servator is effective?
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Various studies of Project Servator deployments have been carried out. The tactics used have been tested by teams of specialists who behave in that same way that individuals carrying out hostile reconnaissance do to see if they are identified. The tests have shown that the deployments are consistently successful in identifying those hostile actors. Every day Project Servator officers across the country are disrupting a range of criminal activity, from theft to serious organised crime and hostile reconnaissance related to potential terrorist activity.