It is 18 months since I launched my monthly stakeholder e-bulletin (how time flies!) and I’m keen to canvass your views so I can ensure that it is as useful as possible to you. I would be grateful if you could spare a couple of minutes before Friday, 13 December to complete a short survey (click here) to give me your feedback.
Looking ahead, with Halloween and Bonfire Night safely passed (see item below) and as the shops move into top gear for Christmas, we too are preparing for the festive season, with planning well underway to make sure that everyone in the county stays safe while they enjoy themselves.
IPCC investigation into the death of Terry Smith
We are continuing to fully co-operate with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) independent investigation into the tragic death of Terry Smith from Stanwell.
On Tuesday, 12 November the ambulance service requested our assistance. Mr Smith was detained under the Mental Health Act and taken to Staines Police Station where he was arrested on suspicion of a drugs related offence. His health deteriorated and the ambulance service was called. He died at St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey around 24 hours after being detained.
The matter was referred to the IPCC on Wednesday, 13 November and it launched an independent investigation into the incident. The IPCC has indicated to us that it is investigating this case as gross negligence manslaughter, misconduct in a public office and/or offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The death of anyone following contact with the police is deeply regrettable and we welcome the independent scrutiny that the IPCC brings. We hope that it is able to establish the facts around what happened as quickly as possible to provide answers to Mr Smith’s family and to inform the Coroner’s hearing.
Operation Candlelight – tackling burglary I’m really pleased with the positive early results from our annual burglary campaign. Operation Candlelight, which kicked off on 14 October, was launched to address the traditional spike in burglaries seen during the autumn and winter months – likely to be caused by the longer, darker evenings which increase a burglar’s opportunity to offend.
Since the campaign’s launch there have been 41 fewer burglaries than at the same time last year and there has been a 38% increase in the number of arrests made.
Throughout the campaign dedicated units have been deployed to hotspot areas. In areas where there has recently been a burglary our neighbourhood teams have been giving advice to residents on how to reduce the risk of becoming a victim. This operational activity has been backed up by radio, bus-back and billboard advertising, as well as regular social media activity using the hashtag #GiveaThiefGrief.
As well as our continued activity to target burglars we need the public to make their houses as secure as possible. Please encourage your family, friends and staff to follow our tips, which are available here, to help keep their homes safe.
Combating Halloween and Bonfire Night anti-social behaviour
To tackle the minority who use the Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations as an excuse for anti-social behaviour (ASB), we again put in place a partnership response to make it clear to potential trouble-makers that criminal offences would not be tolerated. Our co-ordinated action paid off with fewer anti-social behaviour incidents on Halloween than last year leading to only three arrests being needed – all for low level issues.
You may recall from my September bulletin that our senior leaders have returned to geographic divisions to improve our operational effectiveness in the relentless pursuit of criminals, tackling the issues that matter most to our communities and putting victims first. The next stage in this process is to implement a neighbourhood policing structure that supports this. The new structure will mean:
• More police officers working in neighbourhoods, enhancing our ability to investigate crimes at a local level and being better equipped with the right powers to resolve local issues.
• Multi-skilled staff and officers. The increase in officers does come at a cost and we are therefore removing some back office staff posts and reducing the number of PCSOs. However, the resulting mix of officers and staff in our neighbourhood teams will have a wide range of skills, abilities and powers to deal with local priorities and investigations at the moment the public first need us in their communities.
• A dedicated Community Safety Team for each division by April 2014 rather than a centrally run team, as is currently the case. This will enable us to be more effective and responsive in meeting local needs.
There will be no reduction in visibility and the same number of ‘boots on the street’ as today working with our partners to support our local communities.
In the current financial climate and evolving demands, the Neighbourhood Project is one of a number of reviews going on right across the Force to ensure that our policing model adapts accordingly. The reviews span our operational teams – such as custody, reactive and proactive crime investigation – as well as a Force-wide look at how best to match our resources to the demands we face; in essence being there when people need us. We are also reviewing our support functions and looking at collaboration across our borders with Sussex and within our existing county partnerships.
Operation Weeting phone hacking trial
As you are no doubt aware, the Operation Weeting trial regarding allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World, is currently underway. The fact that murdered Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked forms part of that trial.
For legal reasons we cannot comment about the Milly Dowler aspect of the case until the trial ends, however all relevant information that we have was passed to the Metropolitan Police’s investigators.
Just some of our recent successes include:
• Our Occupational Health Team took the top award in the Health Promotion and Wellbeing category of this year’s Occupational Health Awards.
• Our Corporate Communications team scooped the Public Relations Consultants Association’s (PRCA) national award in the ‘Public Sector Value for Money’ category for its work on two campaigns that focused on reducing the number of vehicle crimes within Surrey.
• A man and a woman have been charged following a burglary and two attempted burglaries in East Molesey. Read more.
• Two teenage boys have been arrested by detectives investigating a serious sexual assault at last year’s Epsom Derby. Read more.
• A crackdown on criminals in Guildford has resulted in three arrests for drug-related offences. Read more.
• Surrey Police and Guildford Borough Council have worked together to serve a closure order notice on a property in the Park Barn area of Guildford due to anti-social behaviour. Read more.
• Three men were swiftly charged with causing grievous bodily harm following a fight in the Goldsworth Park area. Read more
Key diary dates
• Operation Yuletide: campaign targeting town centre crime from 13 December to 6 January.
• Thursday, 28 November, 6.30pm to 8.30pm: Police and Crime Commissioner’s Crime Summit for Guildford Borough at G-Live, GU1 2AA.
• For details of Neighbourhood Panel meetings, Police Surgeries and ‘Meet the Beat’ sessions in your neighbourhood, visit our website.