Following the murder of Sarah Everard, we are aware of concerns from the public, particularly from women, about interactions with police officers.
As a direct result of this, we launched a new officer verification process which will be proactively offered to those in our communities who want more reassurance from our officers. See earlier announcement of this process here.
We hope the following frequently asked questions provide some reassurance about the action we are taking to rebuild the trust and confidence of our communities.
What do I do if I am approached by a male police officer working alone and I feel uncomfortable? Can I ask for a second officer to be sent?
If you are approached by an individual male or female officer, working in uniform or plain clothes and you feel that you want to check their identity, you can now ask for the additional verification check to take place if our officers have not already proactively offered this to you.
This verification check will be done through our control room and will come through on the loud speaker of the officer’s radio, confirming who they are, the fact they are on duty and that an incident log is being recorded which that member of the public can have access to.
If you are still concerned and would prefer an additional officer to attend, you should ask the attending officer this and they will contact our control room to alert our closest, available officer to assist.
Will I ever be stopped by a plain clothes police officer? If so, should I challenge their legitimacy?
In the vast majority of circumstances, it is our uniformed officers and staff who have interactions with our public.
However, we do have officers working in plain clothes, carrying out hugely important work to tackle serious crimes in our county, such as County Lines drug dealing or serious organised crime. We also have detectives who do not work in uniform, who are also carrying out investigations into serious crime.
Due to resourcing constraints felt by all police forces, it is unfortunately not always feasible to have our officers working in pairs.
If you are stopped by a plain clothes officer working alone then you can absolutely ask for a verification check to provide you with that reassurance. Each time an officer stops a member of the public, they should also show their warrant card. A photo of what our Wiltshire Police warrant cards look like is below.
If a police officer acts in a way which is illegal or inappropriate, to what extent is it the police officer’s word against mine?
We have lots of procedures in place to both ensure the safety of the public, but also to protect our officers and staff.
Officers will be in contact with our control room to record a log of where they are and what they are doing. We also have tracking devices on our radios so we can see where officers are.
Perhaps most significantly, all of our officers are issued with body worn video cameras, which they are strongly encouraged to switch on when they have interactions with the public, to ensure the safety of all involved.
Please be reassured that public safety and the safety of our officers and staff is our highest priority and we expect the highest levels of professionalism at all times.
How do I tell if a police officer is legitimate?
Every police officer will carry a warrant card (see picture below), which includes a photograph of them and the Chief Constable’s signature. You can ask to see this warrant card if you have any concerns about the identity of the police officer who has stopped you.
You can also use our verification process to confirm their identify via our control room.
What vetting do you carry out when people apply to join Wiltshire Police and is this regularly reviewed?
We are confident that Wiltshire Police has a robust vetting system in place.
Everyone who applies to join any police force is subject to this rigorous vetting process in addition to an annual check called the Integrity Health Check, where officers and staff are required to answer a series of questions around their integrity. They are required to sign this and the answers are checked to ensure that people are legitimate and trustworthy. Police officers regularly have their vetting reviewed.
We expect the very highest levels of professionalism, honesty and ethics from everyone within our workforce and we have robust systems in place to ensure these standards are upheld.
Our Professional Standards Department is a committed team of officers and staff who work hard to educate our officers and staff, as well as investigating incidents or people of concern.
How do I make a complaint about my interaction with a police officer?