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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
February 2020

February is always a busy month and a critical one for policing, as it is when the budgets for the forthcoming financial year have to be set.  This year we were even busier than usual as the General Election in December had caused a delay in a number of the critical announcements from the Government which outline how much funding would be available and what restrictions there may be on changing the police precept element of Council Tax.

I am pleased to report that when we did finally get the settlement in late January that it was much improved on recent years, representing a marked increase in the funding that is being provided for policing - around £750 million nationally.  Warwickshire's share of this amounts to £57.59 million, which compares to £54.16 million the year before, so genuine improvement, perhaps in part to the lobbying I and other Police and Crime Commissioners have made over the past few years.

There are still however unavoidable cost pressures facing policing locally. These include pay and price increases of 2.5%, increased employer pension costs for police staff, along with the higher costs associated with providing general equipment, support and uniform for the extra police officers.This list is not exhaustive and sits alongside the substantial one-off capital and revenue costs associated with the programme to transition Warwickshire Police out of the alliance with West Mercia Police, setting up the arrangements for future service delivery in Warwickshire. These are all factors that I must take into account when setting a balanced budget that provides a sustainable future for Warwickshire Police.

During January I consulted you on a variety of options for the Police Precept (the part of Council Tax which makes up around 45% of the total budget for Warwickshire Police). Despite a more compressed timetable and uncertainty as to the funding situation when we launched the survey, you still came back in numbers to give me your views, which is very helpful. Welcome to the very many of you who signed up to receive this newsletter as part of that consultation.

It was clear from the consultation there was support for continuing to invest in policing in Warwickshire but also concern about the effects of large tax increases on Council Tax bill payers. That’s why my final balanced budget asks for a smaller raise than was consulted on but also includes measures to continue to boost the visibility of policing across the county, as well as investing in the supporting services that enable officers to be effective.

Overall, I want to ensure that Warwickshire Police continues to move forward in a positive way, making the best uses of the resources available, while also funding projects and initiatives which support my Police and Crime Plan to help make a real difference to victims of crime. I will also continue to ensure that there is rigorous financial control so that every penny of taxpayers’ money is used to maximum benefit for the priorities that matter most to local communities.

In early February my proposals for the budget went to the Police and Crime Panel and were unanimously supported. Taking into account the pressures above, it means that the Police Precept will increase by 4.38% in April, which equates to a yearly increase of £9.99 on a average Band D property.


So what will this additional funding be spent on?  As the graphic above shows, we will be increasing the number of officers the force employs by a further 41, building on the impressive numbers recruited over the past 18 months which have seen the force's headcount top 1000 for the first time in more than a decade.  We will be using these additional boots on the ground to bolster patrol policing and the response to rural crime, with posts split equally between the north and south of the county.  There will be more specialist armed policing and roads policing officers too, alongside detectives to boost the work to protect the most vulnerable in society.

Overall, I know that you want to see visible policing and improvements to the service you receive and I and the Chief Constable are focused on delivering this.  As you will read below, another major step forward has been taken this week as we transition out of our alliance with West Mercia and this will set Warwickshire on the path to acessing the best technology to support frontline officers.

I know there are always a lot of questions surrounding Council Tax - so I've put together a helpful summary of the key information, together with links to the full budget for those who want to look over the numbers in detail, as well as answers to frequently asked questions. You can find it at: www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/key-information/financial-information/funding-your-police-service-in-2020-21/

Philip Seccombe TD
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner
New collaboration will bring technology advances


 
As part of the major infrastructure investment I have outlined, I am pleased to be able to announce an exciting new collaboration which will will help advance the technology at Warwickshire Police's disposal.

This week I have reached agreement with the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, to obtain access to their excellent technology services. Under the arrangement West Midlands Police will deliver a range of shared services for Warwickshire from April 2021, including things such as payroll and systems supporting human resources and similar business services. This is in addition to IT services for which there is already an agreement in place between the two forces. These are vital functions which Warwickshire, like every police force, needs in order to operate. Talks are also underway for West Midlands Police to deliver Forensic Services for Warwickshire too.

The Chief Constable of Warwickshire and I have evaluated all of our options, looking in detail at other providers of services and it is clear to us that West Midlands has the best solution with the investment that has been made in delivering effective services.  They are a well-led, crime fighting force that has showcased the way in which cutting-edge technology can deliver major efficiencies resulting in a more effective service to the public. 

This agreement represents a real opportunity for Warwickshire to take advantage of the best in class services delivered by West Midlands Police and is an important part of our programme to deliver a sustainable future for Warwickshire Police.

Both forces are now carrying out further work in order to reach a formal decision point in the coming weeks.
Gaining a unique view of police custody
Independent Custody Visitors Justin Whitehorn and Janet Hodgson talk to me in the cell at Leamington Police Station

Last week I got a unique insight into what it is like to be brought into police custody as detainee, by volunteering to spend 14 hours locked up in one of the cells at Leamington Police Station. The idea was help highlight the many different ways the safety of detainees in police custody is maintained.

After being booked in by the Custody Sergeant, I was searched and valuables were taken away to be kept secure for the night, before being taken to the cell, where I was given drinks, a blanket and some books to read during the overnight stay. While there I was  also visited by the Independent Custody Visitors, who are volunteers who conduct unannounced visits to the police custody units at both Leamington and Nuneaton, to provide an independent assurance service, talking to detainees, police officers and custody staff to ensure the welfare of all.

Philip sitting in the cellIt was definitely an interesting and challenging experience and I am glad to have done it, though it’s something I probably wouldn’t want to do again! The time extends in your mind and you feel quite vulnerable when you are locked inside the cell. The point of doing this is really so I can understand some of the vulnerabilities that detainees have while they are in custody and I’ve now got a bit of the flavour of what they might feel, being locked up, feeling vulnerable, not knowing what the future might hold for them.

I must confess I haven’t felt so lonely for some time. You feel rather helpless, but you think: ‘well I’m here, I’m not getting out for some time, so let’s think about it, make yourself comfortable’ and it’s actually quite a good chance to reflect on all sorts of things.

Throughout the night I could hear other detainees coming in - some noisier than others - but I heard good things from the custody sergeants and the detention officers; human comments like: ‘We’re actually here to help you, we’re not here to make life worse for you.’ Of course, all of those who come into police custody are innocent until they are proven guilty and that’s really the point behind the custody visitors, who are there to make sure that detainees are properly looked after in the same way that you would expect any relative of yours to be looked after.

After this experience, I want to make sure we build on all of the efforts already in place which ensure that those who come into custody are properly treated, mental health problems are identified and properly addressed and that our armed forces veterans who find themselves coming into custody have the right level of support. In the longer term, we can then hopefully reduce the overall numbers that come into custody in the first place.

I also used the opportunity to raise some funds for some very worthwhile charities, securing more than £2000 so far in the process.  If you want to make a donation yourself, you can do so at:

Anyone interested in finding out more about becoming a custody visitor should visit: www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/working-together/independent-custody-visitor-scheme or watch the video below:

ICV Janet Hodgson, who explains why she got involved and enjoys the role
Chief Constable to remain at helm for two more years

Chief Constable Martin JelleyI am delighted to be able to confirm that Martin Jelley will be continuing in his role as Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police for a further two years, having agreed to a contract extension which will keep him in post until March 2022. 

Martin was first appointed to the role in April 2015, joining Warwickshire Police from neighbouring Northamptonshire Police. I have found him to be an excellent Chief Constable who has demonstrated unparalleled leadership for the force through what has been a significant period of change. He has done so with the respect of those he commands as well as the many partner organisations we have in the county.  It is therefore fantastic news for Warwickshire to be in a position to retain his leadership, professionalism and skills for the next couple of years.
Welcome return of patrol policing to Coleshill
Patrol police officers with their police vehicles at Coleshill
Patrol police officers with their police vehicles at Coleshill

Response policing officers who respond to 999 and 101 calls have now returned to being based at Coleshill for the first time in a number of years.

This was a gap that residents and businesses in the local area had raised with me and I had previously discussed with the Chief Constable. The move to bring patrol officers back to Coleshill shows that the force is listening and acting on the concerns of the community and is one of the added benefits arising from the investments I have been able to make in additional police officer posts across the past two years.

I am delighted to see patrol policing restored in this part of the county and I am sure that residents will be reassured to see them deploying from Coleshill once again.

Commercial Vehicle Unit chalks up early successes

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe is pictured with members of the Commercial Vehicle Unit and the ‘Supercab’ at Police Headquarters
 
Anyone who is a regular driver on our motorways and trunk roads will sadly have seen many examples of poor and dangerous driving, including from those who are supposed to be ‘professional’ drivers. There is often a perception that nothing is done about these types of dangerous motorists, so I have been determined to fund initiatives that will really make a difference.  I'm pleased to report that one such initiative has had an immediate impact.

Warwickshire Police's new Commercial Vehicle Unit, set up this year with the help of my Road Safety Fund, has got off a flying start. During a recent five day period alone, the unit detected 136 driver offences on the county’s motorway network.

Police officers in the CVU work with partners such as Highways England, the Health and Safety Executive and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to help improve public safety by targeting commercial vehicles and hauliers that could pose serious danger to other road users in Warwickshire through education and enforcement.

They took part in Operation Tramline in early January, using a specially-adapted HGV ‘supercab’ owned by Highways England to observe driver behaviours in all vehicles and deal with any offences. The ‘supercab’ allows our officers to film evidence of unsafe driving behaviour by pulling up alongside vehicles. Anyone that needs to be spoken to is then pulled over by police cars following behind.

I am really pleased to see this partnership working with Highways England, who have been very supportive of the agenda I have been establishing here in Warwickshire to make our roads safer. Of course, the ambition has to be to reduce the numbers of people who drive in a poor or dangerous way, so I hope the fact that the additional police patrols that are being conducted by the CVU really highlight the message that such driving will not be tolerated here in Warwickshire.
Have Your Say On Community Safety In Warwickshire
Local residents and businesses are being asked for their views on community safety in Warwickshire to ensure the right services are being developed to help make people feel safer and secure.

An online survey has been developed to give people across the county the chance to feed back to a range of organisations – local councils, fire and rescue, police, probation, health and third sector – who work together to address community safety through the Safer Warwickshire Partnership Board.

The survey will inform the partnership board about what matters to residents and businesses in Warwickshire, both at a neighbourhood and national level.

The survey will assist the Safer Warwickshire Partnership Board to better understand how crimes and incidents impact on their feelings of safety, what influences how safe they feel and how they would like to be engaged in the future.

To complete the survey, please visit: ask.warwickshire.gov.uk/insights-service/yoursayoncommunitysafetysurvey2020/
Diary dates
Date being marked on a calendar
Here are some of the key events in my diary for the next few weeks:
2 Mar: Child Exploitation and County Lines awareness event, Leamington Spa
4 Mar: Virtual Reality Workshop, Leek Wootton
11 Mar: Alliance Transition Governance Group, Leek Wootton
 
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.
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