Fortnightly update to the Police and Crime Commissioner - 31 March 2023
Dear Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson,
I wanted to open this letter with a reflection of national strategic policing concerns.
The recent publication of the Baroness Casey review is a truly concerning read. While the report focuses on the Metropolitan Police Service, all police forces must stop and reflect on its own culture and ask the extremely difficult question of ‘is this happening here?’. You and I share an absolute commitment to the highest standards – the people of Wiltshire and Swindon deserve nothing less.
As we know, I have recently dispensed with the services of two officers whose behaviour did not reflect our values – and you and I both have increased our grip and intrusion regarding professional standards investigations. Wiltshire Police must, and always be, an inclusive, respectful and positive place for all colleagues, and also for our communities.
I wanted to reassure you that this is a very real focus for me, and that only the highest professional behaviours will be tolerated.
As you know, a national three-year Uplift campaign to recruit 20,000 additional police officers was launched on 5 September 2019, representing the largest national police recruitment drive in decades. The Wiltshire baseline number was set at 1,025 police officers in November 2019, with an overall net goal of 1,189 serving police officers by 31 March 2023 – an uplift of 164 officers.
I am delighted to update you that we have delivered, and in fact exceeded, this ambitious figure by 7 officers and now have 1196 officers, which is the highest number since 2010. This national focus on recruitment continues and, to maintain officer numbers, we will be seeking to recruit a further 160 officers into Wiltshire Police over the next two years – with a significant amount of public engagement and recruitment activity currently being planned and to be advertised shortly.
This is an incredible recruitment achievement - I thank my teams who have worked relentlessly to make this happen and I welcome all of the new officers to the Wiltshire Police family. I appreciate that I am biased, but Policing is in my view simply the best career in the world. It is an absolute privilege.
I look forward to meeting our new officers alongside you.
Nationally this week, the Government launched their plan to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) – and this plan will be piloted in 15 forces in England and Wales. Whilst Wiltshire are not a pilot force, I fully welcome this plan and ASB is a key area of attention for Wiltshire Police under its ‘Safer Public Spaces’ priority.
A clear focus on intensification activity will continue, as well as ensuring faster justice outcomes for those responsible for blighting our communities with this hugely impactful crime and behaviour.
Closer to home, I was concerned with the recent Wiltshire Police performance with regards to tackling violence. Violence is one of my three priority areas, and both prevention and enforcement activity will be increasing in this regard.
Over recent months, the arrest rate for Domestic Violence has increased which is positive, but there is much more to do. There will soon be an increase in arrest rates for those people who are wanted for violence offences, and greater visible presence to ensure Safer Public Spaces, which is also a priority for me, in order to Keep Wiltshire Safe.
On a more positive front, and to highlight recent efforts, we have secured a further arrest and charge for the fatal stabbing of Owen Dunn in Swindon, who tragically died from his injuries on 4 December 2022. This is the third charge we have secured, and we continue to appeal to the public for any information in relation to this horrific and sad incident.
We have also made an arrest this week relating to a shooting incident in Swindon last Thursday whereby a man presented himself to hospital suffering from a gunshot wound.
The last two weeks have also seen my teams conducting a large amount of proactive work across the county. One such activity was Project Zero – a policing operation which is held every Wednesday at a different location around the county, to target drivers committing driving offences.
This proactive policing helps reduce the number of casualties we see on our roads and keeps our public spaces safer. As a result of this operation, 96 motoring offences were detected on Wednesday 22 March by officers in Royal Wootton Bassett and surrounding villages.
The fourth phase of a southwest regional drugs intensification week commenced on Monday 28 March. This week-long operation, supported by all Chiefs and Police and Crime Commissioners in the SW region, will see all forces deliver seven days of intensive activity to disrupt drugs supply in our communities.
Over the last nine months we have seen over 200 people arrested across the southwest and over 300 vulnerable people safeguarded. Drugs can be linked to so much harm and can directly affect how safe people feel in their homes or in their communities. I look forward to sharing with you, and with our public, the results of this targeted week of action very soon.
This week has also seen 50 different venues across Wiltshire and Swindon visited by officers on a policing operation at the weekend to help make our towns safer at night.
This directly links to my priorities of Violence and Safer Public Spaces, and also supports the work of your office through the ‘Safety at Night’ Charter.
This activity, which includes high visibility foot patrols, not only helps reduce incidents of alcohol related crime, but I hope also provides further reassurance to the public that we are listening to their concerns and fully committed to keeping people safe.
Next week, you and I will be attending the Police Performance Oversight Group. This will be our second Wiltshire Police appearance at this oversight group – tasked with checking and testing the progress of Wiltshire Police further to the PEEL report and the Engage process. I look forward to providing our teams, communities and stakeholders with an update after this meeting.
Wiltshire Police remains utterly committed to making the improvements necessary to be trusted to consistently provide the highest possible standard of policing for the people of Wiltshire and Swindon. Nothing less will do.