In recent years, locally and nationally, we have seen an increase in both the volume and complexity of crimes being bought to the attention of the police and other safeguarding agencies. The increased awareness around child sexual exploitation is typical of this change. A large percentage of crime is hidden from public view but is also responsible for causing the greatest harm. These types of crime are identified within the Alliance Control Strategy and require many agencies to work together to support victims and ensure their safety, health and well-being.
Mental health, disability and other factors including drug and alcohol addiction or being in local authority care can make someone more vulnerable to criminal behaviour, either as perpetrator or a victim. I want to make sure that the police, local authorities and health and support providers are able to jointly address these underlying problems and ensure that all agencies are properly fulfilling their respective responsibilities.
Protecting people from harm and keeping communities safe is the essence of policing and community safety in Warwickshire. I want our communities and neighbourhoods to be safe and feel safe. It is important to recognise that some individuals and communities are more vulnerable than others and for this reason the Chief Constable has set a long term aspiration for the force which is ‘to be great at protecting the most vulnerable’, an aspiration I strongly support.
— Warwickshire PCC Philip Seccombe
My approach will be to:-
- Ensure services dealing with domestic abuse and sexual violence are a priority and funded appropriately.
- Give credence to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) inspection findings.
- Work with the force and partner agencies to ensure that vulnerable children and adults are safeguarded via the Warwickshire Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.
- Encourage victims to report offences to the police, in particular in relation to high harm ‘hidden’ crimes and ensure victims have access to support.
- Continue to support and influence the Violence against Women and Girls county strategy.
- Support the countywide Hate Crime strategy and ensure the action plan continues to develop to meet the changing landscape following the vote to leave the European Union.
- Support and influence the Warwickshire Safer Roads Partnership in leading multi-agency activity to improve road safety for all road users in Warwickshire, particularly through evidence-led approaches to enforcement, education and road engineering.
- Oversee, influence and organise the Warwickshire Serious and Organised Crime Joint Action Group (SOCJAG).
- Actively contribute to the strong local partnerships that deliver our shared outcomes.
- Continue to develop awareness and understanding of people suffering mental health difficulties and the subsequent impact on policing and the wider criminal justice arena.
- Work with my counterparts in the West Midlands region to ensure there are robust governance arrangements surrounding the existing regional collaboration agreements which help to deliver the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR).
- Continue to support the Warwickshire partnership Prevent action plan.
As a result of this plan I aim to:-
- Make Warwickshire Police great at protecting the most vulnerable from harm.
- Have Warwickshire Police rated by HMICFRS as ‘good’ (as a minimum) in its PEEL Effectiveness (Vulnerability) inspections. The force will be able to sustain or continue to improve this rating.
- Ensure vulnerable children and adults are safeguarded.
- Encourage increased reporting of offences which cause the greatest harm, such as rape, serious sexual offences, hate crime, child sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and domestic abuse.
- See improved satisfaction amongst victims and survivors.
- See increased reporting of hate crime incidents and improved satisfaction among victims in the way their report is dealt with.
- Make our roads safer, with fewer people killed or seriously injured in collisions.
- Reduce the threat score of each serious and organised crime group managed through the SOCJAG process.
- Influence partners to ensure they can evidence how their activities impact on reducing crime and disorder.
- Provide a better service for those with mental health conditions at their first contact with the police.
- Meet the Strategic Policing Requirements (SPR) and strengthen the regional governance arrangements.
- Have a strong and coordinated community and partnership Prevent action plan
Key recent achievements:-
Co-commissioned a new domestic abuse support service
My office has worked closely with Warwickshire County Council to co-commission new enhanced community-based domestic abuse support services for the county. The contract has been awarded to Refuge and marks another exciting step forward in providing a safer, more secure Warwickshire. Refuge is an organisation with a vast wealth of experience in working with victims and survivors and has achieved a high reputation nationally.
From April 2017, Refuge began delivering a combined community-based support and accommodation service in Warwickshire, including:
- 24 units of accommodation in locations across Warwickshire and associated support for females aged 16 and over and their dependent children, including provision of a children’s worker.
- A single point of contact and specialist helpline.
- Outreach support, specialist advocacy for high risk victims and specialist support for male, BME and LGBT victims.
- Support to Warwickshire’s GP practices under the Identification and Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS) programme.
- Management of the Sanctuary Scheme.
- Coordination of Warwickshire’s Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC) and support to the Warwickshire Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
Expansion of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
Following the successful implementation of the children’s MASH in May 2016, the hub has since been expanded to include adult safeguarding.
The MASH is evidently challenged by its own success, as since its implementation has led to an increase in third party reporting, as reflected in the force performance data, in turn creating increased demand for the police and partner agencies and requiring additional resources.
I have allocated additional funding for two members of police staff to be posted in to the MASH to assess from a risk and safeguarding perspective the additional reports being generated.
Launch of Report Hate Now
Tackling hate crime in all its forms has remained a priority over the past 12 months and my office continues to play a key part in the Warwickshire Hate Crime Partnership.
During 2017 a new website has been created which provides information and advice on Hate Crime and also a portal which enables the reporting of incidents in Warwickshire.
The site has been developed in conjunction with Warwickshire County Council, Warwickshire Police and EquIP. It is hoped that by having a dedicated resource that provides an alternative method of reporting incidents, that the reporting of hate related incidents and crimes can be increased.
The site also provides customised support for victims and witnesses which can help ensure that they get the help they need more effectively.
Community Speed Watch summit
In January 2018, I organised a summit meeting to bring together representatives from Community Speed Watch schemes operating across the county with police, as well officials from the Warwickshire and West Mercia Road Safety Partnership. The aim was to allow all concerned to air their views on how speed watch schemes are currently operating and how communications between all agencies can be improved in future.
The discussions were wide-ranging, open and honest and I felt the meeting overall was very positive. The groups now have an established single point of contact which they can feed into, while the Safer Roads Partnership and Warwickshire Police were able to re-affirm their commitment to support the Community Speed Watch schemes for issues such as training and equipment calibration. There was also discussion around the wording of letters sent by police to persistent speeders and how this might be revised to get across stronger messages about the unacceptability of such behaviour and the potential consequences.
Sadly, there are still too many people being killed or seriously injured on our roads, with more than 30 fatalities last year. With more and more vehicles on our roads, the issue of road safety is only likely to become even more prominent in the coming years, so we need to have the right mix of education, enforcement and engineering to make our highways safe for all users. This is something I will be promoting over the next 12 months, as I think we need a societal change to the way we view speeding and risk-taking on our roads if we are to see the numbers of deaths and serious injuries substantially reduced.