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Monthly update from Warwickshire's Police and Crime Commissioner
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The latest news from the Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner
April 2017
This month's newsletter is the first since the tragic events which unfolded in Westminster just over two weeks ago and it seems timely to pause and take stock.  The awful events of that day were a tragic reminder of the dangers that police officers face as they strive to protect the public from harm - and also of the swift and effective response from the police and other emergency services as they dealt with the aftermath of the attack.

PC Keith Palmer made the ultimate sacrifice in the protection of the public and Parliament and it is fitting that he has been afforded the honour of “lying in rest” in Westminster’s St Mary Undercroft ahead of his funeral next week - something normally only granted to heads of state and distinguished parliamentarians.  While it can provide only a small solace to his family, friends and close colleagues, it does at least illustrate the high-esteem that society views his selfless actions that day.

We must also not forget the members of the public who were killed during the attack. Today has also seen the announcement of the death of Romanian tourist Andreea Cristea, who passed away in hospital while being treated for her injuries. My condolences and sympathies go out her family and friends, as well as those of Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran and Leslie Rhodes, who also died during the attack. I also wish a speedy recovery for the many others that were injured that day.

My office and the officers and staff of Warwickshire Police will be joining their colleagues and members of the public from across the country in observing a two-minute silence at 2pm on Monday, to mark PC Palmer's funeral at Southark Cathedral.  It's sure to be a very emotional service, attended by many from across the policing 'family'.

Tragedies such as these serve only to reinforce that we must all remain vigilant and continue to work together to combat terrorism.  I know that the same levels of dedication and professionalism that were displayed by all of the responding emergency services in Westminster are shown here in Warwickshire on a daily basis.

In the aftermath of the attack, I discussed the security situation in Warwickshire with the Chief Constable and we reaffirmed our ongoing commitment to public safety.  There is no specific threat to Warwickshire, but nevertheless, Warwickshire Police is well-prepared to respond to a terrorist incident should it happen here, as are the other emergency services. Y

ou may recall the recent major exercise which took place at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, which helped to test responses to a large-scale incident.  This is part of my commitment to ensure officers are properly equipped and trained, and I am also reassured that the counter-terrorism work locally and across the West Midlands region is continuing to help root out those who would seek to do harm in our communities.

It is important that the police and the public work together to combat terrorism. If you have any information about suspicious activity or behaviour, you can report it in confidence by calling the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or by using the secure form at www.gov.uk/ACT. In an emergency situation, always call 999.
Philip Seccombe TD
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner
Lord Chancellor visits Leamington Justice Centre
A week ago I was pleased to be able to welcome the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Liz Truss MP to the Warwickshire Justice Centre at Leamington. Taking advantage of the fact that she was in the county, I was keen to meet with the Minister to discuss criminal justice matters and to showcase the state-of-the-art justice facilities we are privileged to have here in Warwickshire.

The visit gave the minister an insight into the running of the Justice Centre, which is designed specifically to bring multiple services together under one roof, breaking down the traditional barriers between criminal justice agencies, facilitating more integrated working. As well as seeing the Crown and Magistrates’ Courts, she was also shown the Police and Victim Support offices, where she was able to talk to representatives from the Witness Service, Probation and the Youth Justice Service.

I know from my discussions with other Police and Crime Commissioners up and down the country that the concept of combining under one roof all of the agencies involved in the local delivery of criminal justice is widely regarded as a template for best practice, and all of the partners are quite rightly very proud of facilities we have at Leamington and Nuneaton.

During our discussions, I highlighted the wider delivery of criminal justice in the county, including restorative justice programmes and our ongoing work to ensure that victims and witnesses are the focus for all agencies.  My forthcoming Victims’ and Witnesses Charter – a key commitment in my Police and Crime Plan – is currently being consulted on with partners and will be launched publicly later this year. 
'One Voice' for young people's views 
 
Philip Seccombe with Councillor Les Caborn and members of the Warwickshire Youth Parliament at the One Voice eventI had great pleasure in assisting Warwickshire's Youth Parliament with their 'One Voice' public speaking competition for local schoolchildren recently.  

The Youth Parliament's national campaign for this year is tackling racism and racial discrimination and the event at the Shire Hall in Warwick saw teams of pupils from across the county present their ideas to combat these issues.

The winning team from Trinity Catholic School in Leamington chose to speak on immigration and their presentation examined how media representation of immigration issues is often negative, overlooking the positive contributions migrants can bring to communities. Their presentation was clear and thought-provoking, as indeed were the presentations by all of the pupils taking part.  

I am always keen to engage with young people and to support the Youth Parliament in their work, so I was pleased to be able to address the speakers and help with the prize-giving.
South Warwickshire meeting hears rural crime concerns
Earlier in March, I spoke at a very well-attended meeting organised by the NFU in South Warwickshire, designed to get feedback from the farming community on rural crime.  More than 60 people packed into the meeting room at Stratford's Livestock Market for the chance to quiz me, members of Safer Neighbourhood Teams and senior police officers, as well as the opportunity to meet Bob Church and Lucy Lambert, the two rural crime prevention officers who I fund in the south of the county.

We heard concerns about trespassing on land by quad bikes and other vehicles; issues around increases in hare and deer coursing, as well as concerns over theft of agricultural machinery.  There was also concern about police responses to rural crime - something which I am keen to address through my Police and Crime Plan. In turn, Lucy was able to provide an overview of the work she and Bob are doing to help rural communities prevent and detect crime.

I think one of the key points to take away from the meeting is the need for good communications between the police and rural communities. The investments I am making in the new Operations and Communications Centre in Warwick, alongside major advances in the technology our call handlers and police officers use, will mark a major step forward in improving such communication.

Equally, encouraging people in rural areas to report crimes to the police when they occur is just as important. The police can do nothing to tackle incidents they are not aware of and, by not reporting crimes, a false picture can build up as to the scale of problems  - which will inevitably have consequences as to how crimes will be prioritised and responded to.

It's why I'm supportive of events like this which bring together the police and rural communities to talk through the issues.  Everyone who attended was able to take away crime prevention materials and make contact with Bob and Lucy for follow up visits if they wished, as well as meeting representatives from their Safer Neighbourhood Teams. I'm grateful for the NFU in organising it and its something we will look to repeat again in the future.
Domestic abuse services given a twin boost
Services which help and protect victims of domestic violence and abuse in the county have been given a twin boost, with commencement of enhanced community-based support services by Refuge, plus the announcement of new funding for counselling services for victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse. 

From 1 April, 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).

My office has worked closely with Warwickshire County Council to co-commission these services and the award to Refuge 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, so I am delighted we are able to work with them on a wider basis here in Warwickshire.

I have also recently made a further direct Last month I also visited the new Bedworth offices of the Domestic Abuse Counselling Service, where I was pleased to able to award them more than £60,000 from my Grants Scheme to help them continue their work.  You can find out more about the visit and the vital work that DACS does in the video below. 

  • For more information about Warwickshire’s domestic violence and abuse service provision, visit www.talk2someone.org.uk or call call the Refuge-Warwickshire Domestic Violence Service Helpline on 0800 408 1552 (Monday-Friday 8:30am-8:30pm; Saturday 10am-4pm).
In March I visited Domestic Abuse Counselling Service (DACS) at their new premises in Bedworth, presenting them with funding worth £60,004 to deliver counselling services for victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse. The aim is to provide county-wide coverage for the services which work to reduce re-victimisation among the most vulnerable. Find out more about DACS by watching the video.
Safeline charity ball needs your support
 
One of the great organisations I help to support is Safeline - the Warwick-based charity which supports survivors of rape and sexual abuse. One of the charity’s upcoming fund-raising events is a ball, taking place at The Crowne Plaza in Stratford on Friday, April 28.  I will attending and speaking at the event, which will help raise further funds and also help to highlight the important work which Safeline delivers.

I would urge as many people as possible to come along for what should be a great evening, which includes a three-course meal and live entertainment. Tickets for the ball cost £55 with £30 from each ticket going to the charity. Visit www.safeline.org.uk/charity-ball/ to book or for further details.
The month ahead

CalendarHere are some of the key events in my diary for the month ahead:

20 April - Meeting with the Howard League for Penal Reform
21 April - Visit to the Warwickshire MASH, Warwick
25 April - Strategic IAG meeting, Leek Wootton
26 April - Alliance Governance Group, Leek Wootton
27 April - Trust, Integrity and Ethics Committee, Leek Wootton
28 April - Regional meeting of PCC's/Chief Constables/Chief Executives, Birmingham

In addition, I 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.

A full schedule of my key meetings and events is kept up-to date online at www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/event/

The next newsletter will be published on Friday 5 May
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