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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 2017
As your Police and Crime Commissioner, I want to create a safer, more secure Warwickshire for all residents and businesses.  To that end, I need to ensure our police are properly resourced, with equipment, training and motivation to make them more effective.

A key part in enabling this is having the right finances in place and this week saw a significant landmark achieved with the agreement of the police budget for 2017/18.  Earlier today (February 3), Warwickshire's Police and Crime Panel backed my proposal to increase investment in policing by £1.1 million pounds, while at the same time freezing the amount you as taxpayers contribute through your Council Tax.

While that may sound like an impossible task, I have been able to do this by using a portion of Warwickshire Police's financial reserves to make up the difference an increase of up to 1.1% would have made - plus a little extra on top.  It means that I can continue to invest in frontline services, including additional specialist support for victims of crime and vulnerable people, enhanced restorative justice programmes and an extra 22 officers to investigate child sexual abuse.

This will also come alongside other investments in new technology to reduce bureaucracy and enable police officers to work remotely ans spend more time out in communities, as well as continued development of initiatives to combat business, rural and cyber crime.

All of this means that when Council Tax notices arrive on your doorstep later this year, the average Band D taxpayer will continue to pay £191.98 next year for policing services.

Taxpayers deserve to know that their money is being well spent and I will continue to scrutinise budgets and hold the Chief Constable to account to ensure this is the case. Overall, I will ensure that frontline policing is both protected and enhanced, that the most vulnerable in society are protected and that the issues that matter most to local communities continue to be addressed.
Philip Seccombe TD
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner
Unauthorised traveller encampments in focus
Philip chairing the meeting at Nuneaton Town Hall
In January, I organised a meeting in Nuneaton to discuss the situation in the county of unauthorised traveller encampments - an issue that I know from my mailbox is one that continues to frustrate local residents and businesses.
 
The meeting at Nuneaton Town Hall involved all of the agencies with powers to deal with unauthorised traveller encampments on public land, including the police, county, district and borough councils.  Also in attendance were county MPs Marcus Jones and Craig Tracey, along with representatives of other county Members of Parliament, parish councils, Coventry City Council and the Office of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

The group examined in detail the current legislative powers available to the agencies, as well as discussing recent case studies.  Examples of alternative legal approaches, such as the use of injunctions against individuals, were also considered, drawing on experiences from elsewhere in the country.

I have been concerned for some time that, while the agencies responsible for dealing with unauthorised traveller encampments do work well together already, this is often on a case-by-case basis in each district, with no overall strategy to look at the issue on a county-wide basis, which could mean solving an issue in one part of the county only serves to create another elsewhere in Warwickshire. Equally, there could well be learning from each incident that is missed if it is not shared more widely.

The meeting was productive and gave all agencies the opportunity to share their perspective.  To move matters further forward, my office is setting up a working group for representatives at each authority, which will look at drafting a framework to provide for better co-ordination in dealing with unauthorised encampments, in order to solve problems in the quickest possible time for residents and local businesses.  It will also consider if existing legislation needs tightening and will make suggestions as to how it could be amended, which I will then follow up with our county MPs and the Government.  

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson is organising a similar meeting this month, which I will be attending and speaking at, as it is also important to work closely across the region.  I will keep you updated on our progress.
Rural crime training

Philip addressing the officers and PCSOsTackling rural crime remains one of my priorities and last month police officers, special sonstables and PCSOs from across the county were given an insight into how best to tackle it on special courses organised by my Rural Crime Co-ordinators Carol Cotterill, Lucy Lambert and Robert Church.

Two training days have been held – one at Pailton, near Rugby and another at Moreton Morrell College – with officers from Safer Neighbourhood Teams attending for a day of practical learning, .

At Pailton speakers included representatives from the farming community and the National Farmers Union, who discussed how best to work with farmers when dealing with incidents and what the impact of rural crime can be; an input from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Large Animal Rescue Team on how to safely deal with horses, other large animals and livestock at incidents; as well as an overview of the legislation covering the use of agricultural and plant equipment on the roads.

At Moreton Morrell, officers had demonstrations of crime prevention which can be passed onto the public and a live forensics learning exercise around the farm, giving officers the know-how of what to look for and how and when to bring in scenes of crimes officers.

Both courses featured further inputs from the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service and NFU Mutual, giving practical information on how to spot stolen plant and agricultural machinery, an overview of the Construction & Agricultural Equipment Security and Registration Scheme (CESAR) and a ‘hands on’ session examining tractors, quad bikes, trailers and other equipment that is often targeted by criminals.

In addition to learning about rural crime, the attendees of the Moreton Morrell course also had a training session on dementia awareness, enabling them to spot those who are vulnerable and know how to deal with people who may have dementia.  All Safer Neighbourhood Teams in Stratford District and the Warwick rural teams have now become official ‘Dementia Friends’ as a result.

Large animal handling demonstration with horses
Police numbers on the increase
A police officer and PCSO talk to a member of the public in Leamington Spa
Last week saw the publication of new data by the Home Office on police officer numbers, which drew national headlines as it showed that across England and Wales as a whole, police officer numbers had fallen.

I am happy to be able to report that this is not the case here in Warwickshire - in fact, in the six months to September 2016, the numbers of police officers, PCSOs and special constables in the county had increased across the board.

In detail, the number of police officers increased by 2.1 percent, with an additional 17 officers recruited to the force.  Similarly, there was a 12% increase in PCSOs and an almost 16% increase in the number of Special Constables, when compared with the end of March 2106.  Overall, the total workforce is up by 5%, compared to the national average decrease of 1.3%.

Encouragingly, West Mercia Police was also among the handful of forces to show increases, showing the great benefits that working in alliance has had for both of the forces.

I am delighted that in the first six months of my term as Commissioner we have been able to not only maintain the previous good progress but also to build further upon it.  Together with the considerable investments which I am making in new mobile technology to assist officers in their jobs, a refreshed recruitment process for the Special Constabulary and a renewed focus on protecting people from harm, I am confident that we can continue to maintain these gains and ensure that we create a safer and more secure Warwickshire for the benefit of all residents. 
Alex and Sam can help you get Cyber Safe
Next week sees Safer Internet Day (Tuesday, 7 February) and it provides a timely reminder that, as recent crime figures have shown, cyber crime is on the rise and something were all vulnerable to. 

To help tackle the problem, I have provided funding for two Cyber Crime Advisors, who are employed by Warwickshire County Council to deliver advice and key messages to communities across the county.

Alex GlosterAlex Gloster  (left) was appointed in April last year and was joined in December by Sam Slemensek (bottom right).  Together, they are  helping people to prevent, prepare and protect themselves against cyber crime through education, targeted awareness campaigns and through the support and creation of projects in Warwickshire.  

Sam and Alex work with a wide range of partners in delivering their projects and are always looking for opportunities to come and talk about cyber crime and online safety.  If you would be interested in receiving a talk for your group or organisation, email samslemensek@warwickshire.gov.uk.

Did you know?
It is estimated 80% of fraud and cyber crime is preventable if individuals and businesses take basic precautions - so below are Sam and Alex's top five tips to help keep you safe online:
  1. Always be wary of opening links and attachments in email - check that the email is really from who it says it is from.
  2. Have strong and unique passwords for each of your online accounts - and update them regularly.
  3. Look for 'https' in the address bar and a padlock symbol in your internet browser when visiting sites - these give an indication that the website is secure.
  4. Get anti-virus software for your computer, phone and other devices.
  5. Remember to keep your software updated to reduce your chances of hackers being able to exploit security weaknesses to take over your device.
You can find out more information about staying safe online at: https://www.warwickshire.police.uk/article/3745/Online-crime
The month ahead

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

February 7: National Crime Agency meeting, London
February 8: Speaking at Stratford-on-Avon District Council's Overview and Scrutiny meeting
February 10: Attending the West Midlands PCC's Unauthorised Traveller Encampments Summit
February 16: Coleshill Community Forum
February 21: Conference on emergency services collaboration, London
February 22: Alliance Governance Group meeting, Leek Wootton. 
February 23: Visit to the force Hate Crime Unit
February 24: Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Emergency Services Collaboration Working Group.

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, 3 March.
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