Chiseldon Parish Council shares communications it receives which may be of interest to our residents.
Dear Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson,
As this is the last fortnightly letter to you in 2023, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the past year of policing in Wiltshire:
I hope the above gives you and our communities the confidence that, although Wiltshire Police remains on a significant improvement journey to consistently provide the professional policing services that our communities rightly deserve, we are seeing some positive results delivered by dedicated officers, staff and volunteers who are working really hard in Keeping Wiltshire Safe.
Upon my arrival, and in order to deliver your Police and Crime Plan, I set three operational priorities for the Force: Violence, Safer Public Spaces and Burglary. I thought this end of year reflection was a useful opportunity to provide some significant achievements in tackling these priorities, albeit they are not an exhaustive list.
Notable achievements in tackling violence have included:
· In April, a 14-year-old boy from Swindon was jailed for three years and eight months for two stabbings in Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett, causing serious injuries to the victim
· In April, a man was jailed for 12 years after pleading guilty to multiple child sex offences
· In May, Op Sceptre launched – a knife crime awareness campaign which ran for two weeks in Swindon, where we saw 439 knives and bladed articles handed in and weapons sweeps conducted
· In May we also ran Op Sacramento, focused on youth gang violence, resulting in 30 arrests, 322 focused patrols, and 80 stop searches
· In June, we used Section 60 (police powers to stop and search without needing reasonable grounds) in Swindon, and Section 35 (police powers to disperse and exclude persons from an area) in Devizes following incidents and community concerns
· In July, we launched the Listening Circles to seek to continually improve the way in which we respond to Violence Against Women and Girls
· In September, a man was sentenced to 24 years in prison for the rape and sexual assault of two women
· In November, we saw three people found guilty of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking offences after forcing women to work in brothels
· In November, we again ran Operation Sceptre across the county, to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying knives, resulting in 700 young people receiving the Blunt Truth presentation (a knife crime education and awareness session), 25 community meeting/education events held at schools, 18 weapons sweeps conducted, and 30 retailers visited, including 10 test purchase operations in Swindon. In addition, we saw the launch of four new permanent knife surrender bins across the Swindon area – with 28 bladed articles having so far been surrendered
· In December, a 16-year-old boy was given a five-year custodial sentence after pleading guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent following a stabbing in Swindon.
Our focus on Safer Public Spaces has included:
· In March, as part of a region wide drugs intensification week, in Wiltshire we saw eight warrants executed, 14 arrests made for drug and violence related offences, with six of those people charged, with four remanded in custody, and the seizure of cocaine worth £9,150, cannabis worth £1,150, £1,500 in cash and 10 vehicles. Officers also seized three machetes, three crossbows, an air weapon, a knife, a lock knife, a baseball bat and a pair of nunchuks
· In April, we ran Operation Tramline to detect driving offences on the motorway – 101 offences were detected over the three-day operation
· In June, a man was jailed for five years and four months for fraud where he manipulated three women into giving him more than £200,000
· In June we launched, alongside you, the Community Remedy framework as part of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Awareness Week, highlighting a range of opportunities to tackle behaviour which causes misery to our communities
· In August, we ran a focused Road Safety campaign – which saw the Roads Policing Unit (RPU) issuing 612 notices for offences including speeding, mobile phone use and not wearing seatbelts, and 68 arrests for drink or drug driving. Over the whole summer period, there were 2,788 notices for motoring offences issued by the RPU
· In September, we launched the regional approach to tackling rural crime – Operation Ragwort – as part of the National Rural Crime Awareness Week, to collectively harness our efforts to strengthen our response to these types of crimes
· Our amazing volunteering cohort continues to grow – we have 107 Special Constables (who have contributed an incredible 26,395 hours of service this year!), 10 types of Watch Scheme operating far and wide across the county, 148 Police Support Volunteers, 15 Community Based Volunteers and 971 Community Speed Watch members
· In October, Safer Business Crime week took place, where we signed 320 more retailers up to Business Watch, provided crime prevention advice and guidance and arrested a number of prolific shoplifters
To tackle burglary and ensure people feel safe in their own home, our activity has included:
· In June, we joined the national pledge to attend 100% of all domestic burglaries – and the latest figures in November show we attended 100% of dwelling burglaries that occurred that month
· In July, we launched our Burglary Unit – a team dedicated to tackling burglary series
· In August, officers from the newly established Burglary Unit made two arrests in connection with an incident at a business in Melksham where £30,000 and three vehicles were stolen
· In September, three people were arrested in connection with a burglary in Stratton St Margaret, Swindon, where a house was broken in to and gold jewellery worth thousands of pounds was stolen
· Following our commitment to attend all residential burglaries, victim satisfaction in this area has risen to 88.2% from 75% earlier this year
· In December, two people were charged following an aggravated burglary in Swindon during which a woman was seriously injured
· Also in December, we launched our month-long burglary campaign, focused on raising awareness of important crime prevention advice to help our communities reduce the risk of falling victim to this type of crime. So far this month, our Burglary Unit have made 7 arrests and are running proactive operations.
We have also recently launched a campaign to bring outstanding offenders to justice. ‘Wanted this Winter’ asks for the help of the public in providing intelligence about individuals we need to speak to connected with various crimes. We have put 38 appeals out to date this month and, as a result, we have been able to make 15 arrests. I want to thank the public for their support with this initiative and the intelligence they have passed on to us which is, there is no doubt, helping us in Keeping Wiltshire Safe. This campaign will continue until the end of the year.
As we move from 2023 into 2024, we will be continuing the urgent work reviewing applications made to us under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (known as Clare’s Law) further to the serious failings we uncovered earlier this year, which was the focus of my letter to you two weeks ago. We will leave no stone unturned as we progress through this review of over 3,500 Clare’s Law applications to ensure we do all we can to safeguard anyone who may be at risk. Can I once again reassure you, and our communities, that we have increased the dedicated resources on this review to over 36 members of staff who are being supported by the wider organisation to ensure this review is conducted expediently. In addition, we are taking immediate steps where we are identifying any risk and, where we identify any further service failures, referring these immediately to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to ensure the right level of independent scrutiny is applied. I will provide a further update to our communities in January.
Moving into 2024, Wiltshire Police remains in ENGAGE status, with a further Police Performance Oversight Meeting scheduled in January. I will provide further details at that point, however the Force continues its focus on the service improvements we absolutely must make.
January is also an exciting month as we launch our new operating model for front line resources, including the re-establishment of dedicated Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) to improve the visibility and engagement with all our communities.
From an internal perspective, I will continue to focus on performance, standards and our culture, ensuring that Wiltshire Police is, at all times, an inclusive, fair and respectful organisation at all ranks and levels. The majority of my officers, staff and volunteers display the values, behaviours and public service ethos I expect of them. However, I will be relentless in holding to account anyone who does not display the standards of professional behaviour that I, and our communities, require.
As part of our focus on culture, and to further build trust and confidence within the Force and with the public, I have this week re-launched our internal integrity hotline, where my officers, staff and volunteers are able to confidently and anonymously report any wrongdoing, concerns they have or intelligence surrounding any individuals within our organisation. In addition, I will be having detailed conversations within the organisation in the New Year about the themes arising from the review conducted by Louise Casey, Baroness Casey of Blackstock. Whilst this may have been a report specifically for the Metropolitan Police, the issues raised within the report are, without doubt, ones for all forces to explore and tackle.
Finally, we have welcomed some new members to our Wiltshire Police team through recruitment over the last 12 months – 15 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), 217 Police Staff and 193 Police Officers – and I am delighted they have chosen Wiltshire Police for their career. I would like to use this letter as a public opportunity to thank all of my officers, staff and our volunteers across the county, for their dedication and commitment to Keeping Wiltshire Safe.
Can I also thank you, and all of our communities across Wiltshire and Swindon, for the incredible support provided to policing in this wonderful county. I wish everyone a very happy holiday period and a wonderful New Year. Take good care.
Chief Constable, Wiltshire Police