Fortnightly update to the Police and Crime Commissioner - 21 July 2023
Chief Constable fortnightly update to the Police and Crime Commissioner
21 July 2023
Dear Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson,
I start this letter to you today with two important updates.
You will have seen that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) issued a statement yesterday (20 July 2023) announcing multiple investigations into the handling of reports about David Carrick, the former Metropolitan police officer. I can confirm that we have made a voluntary referral to the IOPC regarding allegations made to us in 2016. These allegations related to non-recent sexual offences.
The IOPC have decided to independently investigate this matter and, as such, we are unable to comment further on the specifics of these allegations at this time. However, I can assure you that we are fully engaged with the IOPC regarding this matter and I welcome this independent, external scrutiny, which is fundamental in cases which have understandably damaged public trust and confidence.
Linked to standards and culture, I had an important conversation with my Senior Leadership Group this week where we collectively discussed the recent report from Baroness Casey of Blackstock DBE CB, regarding her independent review into the standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Metropolitan Police Service.
Although this review is focused solely on the Met it has, quite rightly, bought issues such as misogyny, discrimination, bias and racism within the police service back into the spotlight, so it is important to reflect on the work we are undertaking locally to tackle these issues and our commitment to uphold the highest level of professional standards within our organisation.
I, and my senior colleagues, are absolutely resolute in our shared commitment to ensuring Wiltshire Police has a culture of fairness, transparency and inclusion, upholding the very highest level of standards across all of our officers, staff and volunteers. Nothing less will be tolerated.
On a different topic, over the last week, we have seen some significant and additional pressures within our Crime and Communications Centre regarding increased demand. We have responded swiftly, putting in place an immediate plan to flex resources to manage the issues, and I am pleased to say that we were able to ensure the effective management of call and response times to the public. As a result of the work that has taken place over the last six days, I hope that the public will now see an improvement in their experience when reporting a crime to us.
In other news over this last fortnight, I would like to share with you, and with our communities, some excellent operational results which directly relate to my Safer Public Spaces priority.
Recently Wiltshire Police, alongside the four other forces in the South West, took part in Op Mille - a national operation to unearth and disrupt Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) across the country. This nationally coordinated operation ran throughout the month of June – specifically focusing on a key source of OCG revenue in cannabis cultivation - whilst also apprehending as many of those involved as possible, safeguarding those being exploited, and increasing intelligence around how the networks operate.
We have recently received the final summary of the results of the South West forces, and I am delighted to say that Wiltshire led the way across the region in terms of our proactive activity. Some of the results we saw were; 26 warrants served, 39 arrests, 10 charges, over 2,000 cannabis plants seized (equating to 111kg) and over £60k in cash seized.
I am sure you will join me in thanking all of the officers and staff involved in this activity for their superb dedication, commitment and determination in tackling those in our communities who seek to cause harm through the supply of drugs.
In addition, on the theme of serious organised crime, recent national figures of all forces other than the Met and City of London Police show that, per 1,000 people, Wiltshire Police records around four times the national average disruptions of serious organised crime. This means that, of the 41 forces who submitted their data, Wiltshire is the top force in England and Wales for the second year running in the disruption of OCGs and serious organised crime offenders – meaning those involved in these type of crimes are prevented from operating at their usual level of criminality.
This is done by proactive pursuit through arrests, charges and convictions, protection of vulnerable members of the public, prevention work to prevent reoffending, and preparation work with private and public sector bodies to mitigate the impacts of such crime. Once again, these are superb results and reflect not only the hard work of my officers and staff, but also of partner agencies, specialist teams and, of course the public - through their provision of invaluable community intelligence. I thank everyone who is involved in this vital and important work.
These outcomes I hope send a very clear message to those wishing to cause harm. Wiltshire is no place for serious organised crime such as county lines and drug related crime – and my officers, staff and I will be relentless in our pursuit of those who think they can target our communities.
My teams have also been busy this week spending time with our rural communities. On Wednesday, officers from the Rural Crime Team met at Wiltshire Police HQ with yourself, and stakeholders; including representatives from the Neighbourhood Harm Reduction Unit, the Country Landowners Association, National Farmers Union, Wiltshire Council, Crimestoppers and others. The purpose of the evening was to discuss the current priorities relating to rural crime, and also discuss some recent examples of proactive work within the rural community, such as:
A cross border operation with officers from Avon and Somerset Police, specifically looking at horse boxes, plant and agricultural vehicles being carried on trailers. The operation saw numerous vehicles stopped and intelligence gathered, and;
A recent report of a burglary at a farm where officers from the Rural Crime Team attended immediately and arrested two males, who were also served with a Community Protection Warning. This case is ongoing.
I know that you are very keen to ensure a more collaborative approach to rural crime across the region in the coming months due to clear cross border criminality in this type of crime which can also often be linked to serious organised crime groups, and you have recently launched the Regional Rural Crime survey. I feel sure the excellent relationships being built locally will stand that work in good stead.
A rural engagement week has also been running over the last number of days, which saw officers and colleagues from specialist departments visit various villages around the Chippenham area, to give our communities the opportunity to meet their local policing team and discus any concerns or issues that they had. Officers were joined by colleagues from the Rural Crime Team, Community Speed Watch and the Bobby Van Trust throughout the week, which was excellent – and I am so grateful to all our partners and those who work closely with us in their support of these events.
I am very aware that members of the public living in the more isolated parts of our community may sometimes feel they don’t have access to their local police and may feel unheard or forgotten about. I want our communities to know that we are here for them – and I will be encouraging my officers to do far more proactive outreach activity over the coming months so that we can reassure the public of our service to them and ensure that we understand the issues that matter most to all our diverse communities.
We have been using our Mobile Police Stations to support this engagement, and over the last seven days, our mobile stations have been to numerous villages, including Hullavington, Kington Langley, Kington St Michael, Sutton Benger, Christian Malford, Langley Burrell, Grittleton, Burton and Castle Combe. Our neighbourhood teams will be continuing this activity over the coming weeks and months, and the public can find out where they will be through our website and on our social media channels. I encourage members of our communities to pop along and visit the Mobile Police Stations if they are in a village or town near you – my officers, staff and volunteers would love to meet as many members of the public as possible.
In terms of wider engagement, I had the pleasure of meeting with senior members of Scouting and Girl Guiding this week where I was delighted to discuss how we can work more closely together in the future. As the National Policing lead for Children and Young People, I am dedicated to ensuring that we work in partnership wherever we can to deliver positive opportunities and empowerment for young people.
In addition this week, on Wednesday the Deputy Chief Constable chaired the quarterly Wiltshire Diverse Communities Independent Advisory Group which brings together members of our Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities to discuss policing issues in the county. At the meeting, the group were given an overview of performance in relation to call handling and response times and also were given an update on the work we are doing concerning Violence Against Women and Girls. Attendees asked a number of questions and made suggestions to help inform our policing response in these areas going forwards. These meetings are a really valuable opportunity for members of these communities to share their concerns and issues with us so we can continually seek to improve the services we provide.
Finally, also in respect of seeking to continually improve services, this week has also seen the launch of ‘Listening Circles’ as part of our work towards improving the way in which we respond to Violence Against Women and Girls further to the feedback we received last year from a survey of almost 1,200 people.
The Listening Circles will ensure that we are able to provide a safe space for women and girls, especially from our underrepresented groups, to share their experiences with us, give us their feedback, access support, and also help us shape and improve the future services we provide to victims of these types of crime. People can register to join a Listening Circle by visiting wearelistening.uk.
I know you share my absolute commitment to improving the service victims of crime experience when reporting to us, and the Listening Circles will be a key way for us to learn where we need to improve, and what we need to do better so that the public know they can trust us and rely on us during their time of need.