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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 2020

I hope this month finds you and your families well as we all learn to adapt to the unusual circumstances the Covid-19 emergency has brought to our lives. I said in my last newsletter that if everyone plays their part and follows the Government's guidance on social distancing, we will be able to reduce the pressure on the NHS, save lives and get back to some form of normality more quickly.  I'm pleased to say that that's what the overwhelming majority of people across Warwickshire have been doing, with Warwickshire Police having to use their new enforcement powers on relatively few occasions. 

We are now approaching the sixth week of the restrictions on movement and the signs from the NHS are positive. Numbers of deaths from Covid-19 in hospitals are reducing and the capacity, particularly for intensive care beds, has not been overwhelmed. Indeed, the new NHS Nightingale Hospital at the NEC in Birmingham has been ready to receive its first patients for some time but has thankfully not yet had to be used. Nevertheless, the situation in care homes is still troubling and it is clear that we will need to maintain social distancing measures for some time to come. It remains as vital as ever to continue to follow the guidelines, particularly on staying at home and reducing all but essential travel.

I've taken a keen interest in how all of the agencies across Warwickshire are responding to the Covid-19 emergency. I am pleased to say that, in the typical 'Warwickshire way' of close collaboration and flexibility, the arrangements that have been put in place are working very well, despite the unprecedented nature of the challenges. Scaling up the response across multiple sectors and co-ordinating activity across the public sector, charities and voluntary organisations is not an easy task, but the level of professionalism and dedication of those involved has meant that communities have been supported well.

Of course, there are still challenges remaining and some of these will become apparent only when we eventually come out this 'lockdown' period. That's why I will be publishing a detailed plan next week of how my office will work to ensure that the police and other agencies can help communities not only cope with the effects of Covid-19 but also recover over the coming months. This will supplement the existing Police and Crime Plan for Warwickshire, which continues until 2021.

In the meantime, please remember that there is a wealth of help and support available from Warwickshire County Council online at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirus and via 01926 410410.  If you've been identified as extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by the NHS and need to self-isolate, call 0800 408 1447 for support.

We also continue to have information about support services operating across Warwickshire on our own website at: www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/helpingyou/coronavirus/.

I wish you well for the coming weeks.

Philip Seccombe TD
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner

Warwickshire Police tops the table for police recruitment

Philip with Chief Constable Martin Jelley and some of the new recruits at Stewart Ross House in Warwick
New figures released this week by the Home Office show that Warwickshire Police has been able to recruit more new police officers as a percentage of their overall total strength than any other police force in England and Wales.  It means in the year to the end of March 2020 the force has seen its total head count grow by over 14%.  That's nearly double the rate of the next nearest police force in England and Wales.

The announcement shows that since a new national campaign was launched last year, Warwickshire Police has recruited an extra 130 officers – figures that are only beaten by much larger forces such as the Met, West Yorkshire, Merseyside and Thames Valley.

The Home Office figures are calculated from a baseline number in March 2019, which included the actual number of officers at that time, plus any already planned for recruitment funded through the local Council Tax precept increase in 2019/20.  When also taking those additional precept officers into account, the force has actually been able to take on a staggering 216 new recruits in the last 12 months.

That translates on the ground to a new total of 1,043 police officers serving in Warwickshire at the end of March 2020.

I promised that the additional funding that taxpayers across Warwickshire have granted over the last two years would be used to put extra boots on the ground and ensure that policing numbers would top the 1,000 mark.  Warwickshire Police has worked tirelessly to recruit and train these extra officers and these latest figures are a validation of that tremendous effort.

That this has been achieved while the Warwickshire Police has been undergoing a major changes following the end of the alliance with West Mercia shows that core strengths of the force. We may still be a small county but, as is often the case, Warwickshire is performing well above its weight.

The benefits are beginning to be shown out in communities: officer levels are now back to or ahead of where they were when austerity measures came in from 2010 onwards, something that I know is welcomed by communities through the increased visibility of policing. We will also see a further benefit when we get our share of the second phase of Government funding for the national uplift in officers from 2021 onwards, so there is more good news to come.

It is of course, an extraordinary time for new recruits to be joining the service amid the Covid-19 emergency.  However,  much work has been put in place to ensure that officer recruitment can continue safely at this time.  Applications are still being received from those who want to help their communities through the crisis and beyond and beyond. A Positive Action programme is also in place, with the aim of boosting the numbers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic applicants to the force so that it is more representative of the communities it serves.

If you would like to find out more about a career as a police officer visit the Warwickshire Police website.
Specials working hard to help the Covid-19 response
Members of the Special Constabulary line up for the camera ready for a roads policing operation earlier in the year
I have been really impressed by the way in which communities have come together across Warwickshire to support each other during the Covid-19 emergency. This is exemplified by the members of the Warwickshire Special Constabulary who go above and beyond to volunteer their time, despite any personal challenges the current situation may bring them and their families. It really has made a significant difference and on behalf of residents across Warwickshire I want to express a heartfelt thank you for all the work that our Special Constables are doing alongside their regular colleagues to keep us all safe.

The ‘Specials’ have worked a staggering 3,081 hours since the 23rd March, which equates to over 600 hours a week, or the equivalent of almost 16 full time officers. Nine of the team have already done over 100 hours each during this lockdown period, five of whom have exceeded 150 volunteer hours. This is a significant contribution, providing additional visible police presence and protection within our communities during this unprecedented time.

The Special Constabulary is a group of trained volunteers who work with and support Warwickshire Police. They come from all walks of life and volunteers are often key workers in other organisations. As well as being some of our own police staff from areas such as our Operational Control Centre (OCC), our Special Constabulary colleagues include teachers, civil servants, an actor and even an HDU nurse in the NHS. 
 
Specials have been pivotal in some recent success stories over the past few weeks. Examples include a Specials Sergeant who has helped install and set up the remote video link from the police custody suite in Leamington to Coventry Magistrates’ Court, ensuring that cases could continue via a virtual court system. Another was involved in using a 'stinger' device to apprehend a vehicle and driver that failed to stop for other officers on the A46. The driver was subsequently arrested and it was discovered the individual was wanted for a violent domestic assault.

Special Chief Officer Katherine Hancock is very proud of the team’s performance. She says: “The work our volunteer Specials do is extraordinary. We only ask for 16 hours a month, but so many of them have already given far beyond that. They have helped ensure the force has all the assistance and resilience it needs to support Operation Stay Home. 

“Alongside the thousands of additional hours, they have embraced a variety of new roles and tasks in unusual circumstances. They have played an instrumental part in engaging, educating, encouraging and when absolutely necessary, enforcing the instructions for us all to stay home, save lives and protect the NHS.”

Special Constables have full police powers, wear a police uniform and work alongside regular police officers and police staff. They typically spend around four hours a week, or more, supporting the police tackling crime in our local communities.

Warwickshire Police currently has 86 Specials working across the organisation. We are actively looking to recruit more, so if you are keen to learn more, please visit the careers section on the force website: https://www.warwickshire.police.uk/police-forces/warwickshire-police/areas/warwickshire-police/ca/careers/volunteers/special-constabulary/

Custody visits go 'virtual' to continue vital service

Bidvest Noonan detention officer Clare Harvey in Nuneaton custody with Independent Custody Visitor Sue Such pictured via video conference call on the mobile phone.
A huge amount of care and attention goes into ensuring the welfare of detainees when they are brought into police custody and it is vital that independent monitoring processes continue, despite the difficulties brought by the Covid-19 outbreak. In fact, it’s never been more important to ensure the welfare of everyone in the custody environment, from the detainees themselves through to the police officers and detention staff that work there and anyone else who has cause to visit. 

One of my statutory responsibilities is to oversee the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme in Warwickshire, so my office has been working with the volunteers who provide this service to ensure it continues to operate while ensuring the safety of all those involved.  Physical visits are no longer possible due to the need to observe social distancing, so we've turned to technology to fill the gap.

In what is thought to be a first in the region, members of the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme have been using video conferencing on mobile phones to ensure ‘virtual’ visits can continue to take place.  The first calls took place at  both the Nuneaton and Leamington custody centres earlier this month, with Independent Custody Visitor Sue Such able to remain at home while being shown around the facilities by a detention officer and also speak with detainees remotely.  Sue is pictured on the phone above with Bidvest Noonan detention officer Clare Harvey in Nuneaton custody.

During the calls, Sue was shown the cells, kitchen, excise yard and other areas of the custody facilities so that continued monitoring of the conditions in which people are being held could take place without physically having to be present. Following the virtual visits, she was able to confirm that there were no issues of concern.

We  will of course look to reinstate physical visits as soon as we are able to once the Covid-19 emergency ends and in line with government guidance but this new approach is helping to safeguard the welfare of all during this interim period.

I'm grateful for the flexibility of all concerned with making these visits a success during these unusual times. 

For more details about the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme in Warwickshire, visit: www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/working-together/independent-custody-visitor-scheme/
Job opportunity

We're currently on the lookout for a talented individual to join our team at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner in Warwick.  Due to a forthcoming vacancy, we're looking to recruit a Development and Policy Lead for the area of Commissioning, Grants and Engagement.

The role involves liaison with key partners, grants recipients and commissioned services, preparing policy papers, conducting research and helping to develop my programme of community engagement.

If the role interests you, then you can find more details and how to apply at: https://www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/your-pcc/jobs-and-opportunities/development-and-policy-lead-grants-commissioning-and-engagement/

Applications for the role close at 12 noon on Friday 15 May 2020.

Getting in contact during Covid-19

To contact the OPCC:

We are continuing to operate as normal, though our offices in Northgate Street, Warwick remain closed and my staff are working remotely. You can continue to contact us as normal however by email at opcc@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk or by phone at 01926 412322.  Wherever possible, please try to contact us by email in the first instance, but please note that due to our revised working arrangements, it may take us longer than usual to provide you with a reply.

To contact Warwickshire Police:

Officers are working 24/7 to help keep everyone safe. If your call is not urgent, please use an alternative way to contact the emergency services. Non-urgent incidents and crimes can be reported on the force website: www.warwickshirepolice.uk.

The website also contains lots of advice and guidance which may relate to your issue, so please check there first. If you do need to speak to someone on the phone (but it is not an emergency), please call 101 or contact your local Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT).

Only dial 999 in an emergency.

We're still gathering your feedback and opinions


Many of us find ourselves with extra time on our hands now that we are spending much of our time at home.  So this is a good opportunity to give some valuable feedback on policing and community safety through two surveys which are running at the moment.

The first is the Public Priorities Survey –  which is being organised jointly by my office and Warwickshire Police – which seeks to understand public opinion on policing and criminal justice matters, which will provide even more valuable feedback once the current crisis has abated and as future planning takes place to shape Warwickshire Police and community safety over the years to come.

The survey survey will remain open for the foreseeable future - click here to take it.

The second is the Your Say on Community Safety survey, which is being run by the Safer Warwickshire Partnership Board.  The survey will assist the Board to better understand how crimes and incidents impact on your feeling of safety, what influences how safe you feel and how you would like to be engaged with. This in turn will help the Board to develop services across the county with the aim of increasing how safe residents feel and promoting action that can be taken by residents and businesses. 

At the end of the survey you will have the option of answering some further business-related questions if you own or run a Warwickshire business. 

The survey is open until 28 June  - click here to take it.
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