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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
Monthly update: July 2016
Welcome to the first of what will be monthly updates from me, where I will share with you the key activities and issues that my office has been working on, as well as my own personal observations on the role.

It's now just over a month since I was elected as Warwickshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and as you'll see below I've been using that time to get to understand the working of the force and its partner agencies better, trying to meet as many people as possible. I've been extremely impressed by what I've seen and there is little doubt that Warwickshire is fortunate to benefit from a very able and dedicated team of officers, police staff and volunteers.

Warwickshire Police has for some time been in an alliance with West Mercia Police and without it, I suspect it would have been very difficult for Warwickshire's force to survive on its own. There have been very many positive benefits from working so closely together, with yet more still to come. Nevertheless, it is important for the people of Warwickshire that they continue to have a force which retains its own separate identity and leadership to ensure that the priorities which matter to local people here most are both heard and acted upon by the force.

Philip Seccombe with John CampionOne of the first conversations I had with my counterpart John Campion, the new Commissioner for West Mercia (pictured with me on the left), was to reaffirm my commitment to the alliance model but to also confirm that I wished to retain a Chief Constable for Warwickshire, rather than having a combined leadership model or begin exploration of a full merger. I think having a strong voice for Warwickshire within the alliance is important and the current arrangements serve us well.

Police and Crime Commissioners are very much the voice of the people in policing and community safety, who can speak up on your behalf and hold forces and other partner agencies to account. I see public engagement as one of the fundamental aspects of the role and I want to ensure that my first Police and Crime Plan fully reflects the needs and concerns of local people. Later this month I will be launching a consultation to find out the issues which are important to you and I hope you will be able to take part. Together we can ensure that Warwickshire remains a safe and prosperous place to live, work and visit, so do please look out for the survey when it launches.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this new format of newsletter, which I intend to publish in the first week of each month.  Let me know what you think - you can always get in touch at opcc@warwickshire.gov.uk or by using the social media links at the bottom of the email.

Philip Seccombe
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner
Holding the force to account

PCC and Chief Constable in discussionOne of the key relationships any PCC has is with their chief constable.  I have received a very warm welcome from all of Warwickshire Police's senior management team and I am delighted that the force benefits from the strong leadership of Chief Constable Martin Jelley.

One of my key responsibilities is to hold the Chief Constable and the force to account in delivering the Police and Crime Plan.  I do this in a number of ways, including having regular weekly meetings to discuss a wide variety of topics.  These ensure an open exchange of information, which helps maintain an effective working relationship.

I am keen to be open and transparent in all of my working and so a record of each of the meetings, including the suggested actions, is published on the PCC website.  You can find them HERE.
Meeting officers, staff and partners
Out on patrol in Nuneaton with PC Andy Morrissey and PC Dave Dyde.
Over the past few weeks I have been visiting as much of the police estate as possible so that I can meet police officers, PCSOs, police staff and volunteers, as well as representatives of the many partner organisations who work with the police to improve community safety.

To date I have visited the Warwickshire Justice Centres at Nuneaton and Warwickshire to see the various policing functions based there, as well as meeting some of the criminal justice partners. Both centres are hugely impressive - and indeed have not been funded through PFI contracts - so are facilities that we as a county should be rightly proud of.  Elsewhere I have visited the Professional Standards Department at Stratford to understand better the processes by which police complaints are handled, and I have also met the staff in the Operational Control Centre (OCC) at Leek Wootton.  I will shortly be visiting the site of the new OCC at Neville House in Warwick, which is an exciting modern development which will replace the Leek Wootton facility from next year.

I've also had the opportunity to meet with many of the organisations helping safeguard the vulnerable during the official launch of the Warwickshire Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub. The MASH sees staff from a wide range of agencies working together under one roof to ensure proper joined-up communications and activity to keep people safe. Currently handling all child-safeguarding issues, it will expand to cover adult safeguarding in September, which will be a significant milestone for the county.
Rural issues to the fore at Over Whitacre

The crowded village hall at Over WhitacreThere was a fantastic turnout of more than 50 people at the North Warwickshire Rural Forum in Over Whitacre at the end of last month, where police and partner agencies discussed with the public crime and anti-social behaviour issues in the rural communities. The event was organised by Carol Cotterill, North Warwickshire's Rural Crime Coordinator - a post funded by my office. Carol was later deservedly awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for her tireless work in the community. 

It was really pleasing to see such a high turn out of people (we actually nearly ran out of chairs!) and it emphasised again the importance of ensuring that rural crime - such as burglary, agricultural theft, fly-tipping and rustling - is taken as seriously as crime in urban areas.

A broad range of topics were discussed and the feedback will be used to help inform my new Police and Crime Plan, which will include a specific charter to tackle rural crime.
Hate crime will not be tolerated in any form
Much has been written nationally about the reaction of a small minority of people to the EU referendum, with some disturbing reports of racially-aggravated incidents targeted at ethnic minorities around the country. This week the Prime Minister announced that additional measures will be put in place to "drive appalling hate crimes out of Britain".

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said that a new action plan on tackling hate crime will be published shortly, which will include new guidance to CPS prosecutors on racially aggravated crime, a new fund for protective security measures at potentially vulnerable institutions and additional funding for community organisations so they can tackle hate crime.

This is welcome and shows the determination being shown on all sides to get the message out that hate crime is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any way, whatever the misguided motivation for it may be. We are fortunate in Warwickshire to have communities which are in the vast majority of cases tolerant and respectful of each other and to date we have not experienced the kinds of upturns in reported incidents of racially-aggravated crime here which have been seen elsewhere across the region and the country.

Police already have strong powers to deal with racially-aggravated incidents and the courts treat the hate aspect of these crimes as an aggravating factor, allowing judges the ability to apply more severe sentences for those found guilty.

I am reassured that that Warwickshire Police will deal quickly and robustly with anyone responsible for such incidents. Each incident of hate crime reported to the force is thoroughly investigated and offenders should be in no doubt that there will be consequences for their actions.

I would urge anyone who feels as though they have been a victim of hate crime or has witnessed an incident taking place to come forward and report it so that action can be taken.

You can report a hate crime in confidence in any of the following ways:
  • In an emergency call 999
  • For non-emergencies call 101
  • Report online at www.report-it.org.uk
  • Call in at a police station or stop police officers in the street
  • Call the Victim Support national number - 0808 168 9111. You do not need to provide your name when reporting to Victim Support.
The month ahead

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

July 5: Weekly meeting with the Chief Constable
July 6: Addressing the Youth Parliament
July 6: Meeting with Warwickshire MPs 
July 12: Weekly meeting with the Chief Constable
July 13: Visiting Rugby Police Station 
July 14: Trust, Integrity and Ethics Committee meeting
July 14: Attending the Police Bravery Awards
July 21: Association of Police and Crime Commissioners' General Meeting
July 23: Opening the Warwickshire 'Big Conversation' event
July 26: Weekly meeting with the Chief Constable
July 30: Independent Custody Visitors' Annual Meeting
 
The next newsletter will be issued on Friday, August 5.
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