The needs of victims and the vital role volunteers can play in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB) are highlighted in a series of updates to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s strategy published today.
Angus Macpherson issued his Police and Crime Plan in 2013, mapping out the vision and priorities for his four-year term as PCC for Wiltshire and Swindon which runs until May 2016.
It is the responsibility of Chief Constable Pat Geenty to deliver Mr Macpherson’s strategy.
Now Mr Macpherson has reviewed his plan in the light of significant changes, including the Government’s decision to make PCCs responsible for commissioning services for victims of crime and anti-social behaviour victim services from April 2015.
Mr Macpherson says the services will be available whether or not the crime is reported to police.
He says in his update: “I will focus particularly on those victims who have suffered the greatest impact from crime, including victims of serious crime, those who are persistently targeted and the most vulnerable and intimidated”.
There will be enhanced capacity and capability to look after the needs of people who have experienced domestic violence.
He also intends to support victims of anti-social behaviour (ASB) who are referred by councils.
The PCC will receive a Government grant of £584,000 to fund the services.
The update sets out new rights for victims under the Victims’ Code, how Mr Macpherson has been listening to victims, and the timetable for a range of new initiatives.
Mr Macpherson writes: “I want to place a much greater emphasis on the needs of the victim, with offenders making reparation to communities and individuals.”
He believes that using trained facilitators to bring victims and offenders face to face to deal with low-level crime or ASB can have a range of benefits, including victim satisfaction and reduced post-traumatic stress and a drop in repeat offending.
The update sets out how and when Wiltshire Police will use community resolution and the role that Neighbourhood Justice Panels should play. It makes clear that restorative justice will be an option offered to victims.
It also notes that new Youth Crime Panels are being piloted in Marlborough, Corsham and Trowbridge.
A finance update sets out in a number of tables how funds received by Mr Macpherson’s office from the police and crime element of Council Tax and from the Government are being used in the current financial year.
On volunteering, on which Mr Macpherson acknowledges that Wiltshire has a proud record, he writes: “The engagement of volunteers is key not only to the delivery of many aspects of the Police and Crime Plan, but also to the prevention of crime.”
His update records in detail the important role played by independent custody visitors.
It also highlights plans for a police dog welfare scheme to provide “greater transparency, public understanding and confidence in police dog welfare". Both schemes are run by the PCC’s office.
The voluntary work of Wiltshire Police officers and staff in running Bluez 'n' Zuz discos for 11 to 15-year-olds is described by Mr Macpherson as “a remarkable demonstration of the ‘police being the people’.”
He expresses the hope that the Police Cadets' scheme running in Swindon will be introduced to Wiltshire's market towns and to Salisbury.
Turning to volunteer schemes commissioned and supported by the PCC, Mr Macpherson reports that Community Speed Watch (CSW) now has around 930 volunteers operating in 124 teams.
At the end of July, CSW volunteers had observed 23,000 speeders who received warning letters. Neighbourhood Policing Teams had been asked to make more than 420 visits to the homes of speeding motorists.
Mr Macpherson notes that street pastors are now operating in Swindon, Chippenham, Salisbury and Amesbury, supporting the policing of the night time economy.
The PCC writes that he is proud to have commissioned Wiltshire and Swindon Community Messaging, which enables people to sign up for free email, text or voicemail messages about police and crime matters in their neighbourhood.
Referring to volunteer members of Neighbourhood Justice Panels, Mr Macpherson says their success depends on receiving referrals from Wiltshire Police, housing providers and councils.
The update also covers the valuable work done by Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, Splash and Victim Support.
Complaints and professional standards Mr Macpherson reports on his independent adjudicator, Prof Allan Johns, who deals with appeals lodged by people who are unhappy about the way their complaint has been handled by Wiltshire Police.
Prof Johns also “dip samples” complaints to reassure the PCC that the system is rigorous and fair. In addition he monitors the Professional Standards and Anti-Corruption departments of Wiltshire Police to check on their handling of conduct and integrity matters.
The PCC sits on Wiltshire Police's newly-created Ethics, Standards and Culture Board.
He has also set up a panel of Wiltshire residents drawn from Neighbourhood Justice Panels to sample complaint files with Prof Johns. A separate independent panel reviews cases which are disposed of by Wiltshire Police without recourse to the courts.
Prof Johns has also been asked to attend a monthly constabulary board which looks at complaints, misconduct allegations and the performance of individual officers.
Mr Macpherson said: “This is a very welcome development which prevents the serial dismissal of individual allegations which has been a feature of previous complaints systems and other constabularies.”
Turning to the performance measures which he set for complaints, Mr Macpherson says that, between April 2013 and March 2014, Wiltshire Police met the two key thresholds which he set:
• There were 119 complaints involving incivility, impoliteness or intolerance (below the threshold of 123);
• Average time to locally resolve complaints was 48 days (below the threshold of 52).
Mr Macpherson expresses concern about an increase in the total number of complaints which rose “significantly” from 228 to 299 per 1,000 employees from 2012/13 to 2013/14.
As a result he has set a “challenging” threshold of 250 per 1,000 employees for 2014/15.
The document includes an organisation chart showing the structure of the PCC’s office.
Another update focuses on key statistics showing population, levels of recorded crime and the numbers of police officers, police community support officers (PCSOs) and police staff.
The estimated number of full-time equivalent employees in Wiltshire Police in 2014-15 is 2,038, breaks down as:
• 1,018 police officers
• 138 PCSOs
• 882 police staff
On special constabulary, Mr Macpherson set an objective in his Police and Crime Plan for Wiltshire Police to have “a minimum of 300 active special constables ... each attached to communities and contributing an average of at least 16 hours per month”.
In December 2013 there were 208 'Specials'. Of those, 183 met the 16 hours commitment but only 84 were able to patrol independently.
Mr Macpherson says consideration should be given to attaching a number of special constables to each Neighbourhood Policing Team as well as other specialised areas such as roads policing and rural crime.
He asks the Chief Constable to create a recruitment and training plan to bring about a sustainable Special Constabulary whose members have been trained to patrol independently.
Mr Macpherson also makes clear his frustration that 17 out of 20 'Specials' at one swearing-in ceremony spoke of their desire to become regular officers.
He comments: “Members of the Special Constabulary should be joining to contribute to that organisation”.
The updates document includes a diagram showing the ways in which the Commissioner ensures effective governance of the constabulary and of other services he commissions.
The full document setting out the updates can be viewed online at www.wiltshire-pcc.gov.uk by clicking the 'Police and Crime Plan' tab on the home page.
If you do not have computer access, call the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner on 01380 734022 and ask for a copy to be posted to you.