The latest news from the Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner
I start this month’s newsletter with some positive news: reported crime was down in Warwickshire during 2018, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). While the headline figure of a 1% decrease may not sound like much, it needs to be taken in the context that, across the whole of England and Wales, reported crime was actually up by an average of 7%.
Buried within the statistics there is some further encouraging news. Across the various categories of crime across Warwickshire larger falls were seen including:
• bicycle thefts down by 27%
• sexual offences and drugs offences both down by 14%
• shoplifting down by 8%
• burglary down by 7%
• theft down by 5%
• criminal damage and arson down by 2%.
Some categories have, however, seen increased reporting year-on-year. As is the case nationally, violent crime offences are up, with reports of violence against the person increasing by 7% year-on-year, and non-injury violent crimes up 5%. In both cases, however, the increases were at a lower rate than national or regional averages, while violence which resulted in an injury actually fell slightly during 2018 in Warwickshire, down by 1%.
While the volume of knife crime incidents remains low, reports increased by 4% during 2018, though this was much smaller than the rises seen by the larger metropolitan areas across the UK and also remained below national and regional averages. Robbery and theft from the person offences, meanwhile, showed rises (23% and 10% respectively) and these will remain areas of focus for the myself and the force.
There has been a huge amount of work carried out by my office, the police and our community safety partners in Warwickshire over the past year to reduce levels of crime, so these latest reductions are encouraging. I am sure the public will welcome the news that burglary, theft, drugs, sexual offences and shoplifting have all seen significant reductions in reports over the past 12 months.
We must not be complacent though and there will continue to be a concerted effort to reduce crime in all categories, with particular emphasis on the offences that cause the greatest harm and concern to the public.
I am putting greater resources into Warwickshire Police this year to enable the recruitment of additional police officers and crime investigators to tackle these types of offences, alongside the many initiatives I fund to prevent crime from occurring in the first place. Overall, I am determined to see crime levels fall further to deliver on my promise of a safer, more secure Warwickshire.
Philip Seccombe TD
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner
Leek Wootton to be re-designated as police HQ
As you are probably aware, talks are continuing with our colleagues at West Mercia Police over the future working relationship once our formal strategic alliance ends in October. While at this current time the exact operational model and requirements are still under consideration, it is recognised there will be a likely need to accommodate additional police officers and staff in the future within Warwickshire.
With this in mind I have revisited our estate needs with the Chief Constable and it now makes absolute sense to keep Leek Wootton as part of our force estate. While it had previously been the plan to sell off the site for development, given that we are now planning for a different future to that previously envisaged as part of the strategic alliance, I have decided to halt the sale and will look to re-designate Leek Wootton as Warwickshire Police’s headquarters.
Leek Wootton is a hugely valuable asset which contains good IT and infrastructure provisions and, although requires some refreshing, it is in a fit and suitable condition to accommodate additional officers and staff at relatively short notice – something that would have been impossible to achieve elsewhere given the likely tight timescales involved.
Of course, retaining Leek Wootton is also hugely symbolic for the force and is something that our officers and police staff have been quick to tell me is very welcome. We have a long history at Leek Wotton and it is pleasing that we will now be able to continue the force’s latest exciting chapter there.
While the proceeds from the sale of the site as a whole would have been very welcome, the priority must now be on securing Warwickshire Police’s immediate future as it re-establishes itself post-alliance. I am, however, continuing to explore the sale of the remaining parts of the site which will not be needed for policing purposes and I am optimistic that this will still bring in a healthy capital receipt in due course.
Training day boosts knowledge of rural crime
Police officers come from a wide range of backgrounds and, in an area like Warwickshire, can be called to deal with incidents taking place in rural parts of the county as well as in our major towns and urban areas. It’s really important that they all have a good understanding of the types of crime affecting our rural communities and are given practical information which can help them identify offenders and preserve evidence when a crime takes place.
That’s why I have funded through my Rural Crime Project a series of training days to include subjects such as heritage crime, wildlife crime, livestock and agricultural vehicles. As well as experts in their respective fields from a number of organisations training the officers, there is also input from a local farmer, the National Farmers Union and a gamekeeper. Hands-on training with livestock and a range of vehicles was also provided throughout the day.
As well as local officers and Police Community Support Officers, a representative from each of the force’s regional partners in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and West Mercia was invited to attend, to help boost knowledge and co-operation on cross-border rural crime. We’ve run a number of these training days and the feedback I get is that it is valued both by officers and the partner organisations such as the NFU who help to make it possible. I’m pleased to see more officers undergoing the training, including from our neighbouring forces.
It’s part of my commitment to ensure that the public receives a high quality service from the police wherever they live or work in Warwickshire. I hope it also helps reinforce the message to criminals that our county should not be seen as easy pickings, especially in our rural areas.
New Chief Fire Officer welcomed
I was delighted to welcome Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s new Chief Fire Officer Kieran Amos to my offices recently. Kieran took up his post at the beginning of the month, succeeding Andy Hickmott who retired after 30 years’ service.
Kieran was formerly the Assistant Chief Fire Officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and brings with him over 29 years’ experience in a range of roles, including national and collaborative positions.
We discussed the close working relationship that already exists between the police, fire and other emergency services in Warwickshire and I am pleased to see him share my view that continued close partnership working will be vital to ensuring an efficient and effective service to the public.
Through the county’s Joint Blue Light Collaboration Board I have been working closely with colleagues from the police, fire, ambulance, county council and most recently mental health services to look at the opportunities that exist to share resources, improve working practices and collaborate more widely wherever it makes sense for the organisations involved and can provide an enhanced service to the public. I look forward to Kieran’s experienced input into these discussions in the future.
Road Safety Fund now open for applications
As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I am launching a new £500,000 fund for projects to improve road safety across Warwickshire. This month we have opened the scheme formally for applications.
By making this money available I want to really encourage a greater emphasis on road safety across Warwickshire for all users of our roads. Our police, fire and rescue services, highway authorities and community safety partnerships already play a key role in road safety but there are other groups and organisations that can help make a real difference.
I was really encouraged by an engagement day we had earlier this month with prospective bidders, which showed there are lots of potential schemes and good ideas out there that could help to make a real difference on our roads. In opening the fund for applications, I want to hear from as many of them as possible.
Find out more about how to apply.
Here are some of the key events in my diary for the next few weeks:
1 May: Chairing stakeholder’s panel for new Assistant Chief Constable interviews
7 May: Meeting new call handlers at Leek Wootton
9 May: Warwickshire Youth Justice Service Board, Leamington
11 May: Supported Villages’ crime prevention event, Oxhill
15 May: Local Criminal Justice Board, Leamington
22 May: Association of Police and Crime Commissioners AGM, London
In addition, I am taking part in a series of Warwickshire Police workforce seminars to meet officers and staff across the whole of May.
I also continue to have a weekly meeting with the Chief Constable to hold the force to account and discuss any arising issues. You can find details of these meetings here.
Keep up to date with the latest news from the Warwickshire PCC
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