Police & Crime
Welcome to my October newsletter. On Monday 14 October, I was invited to attend PC Harper's funeral procession along with a number of other representatives from Thames Valley Police.
It was an incredibly sad day for Thames Valley Police and our wider communities. PC Harper was a credit to the force and it was extremely poignant to hear the kind words which were said about him. My colleagues and I continue to offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of PC Harper. The attendance, and outpouring of grief and respect, was a true reflection of his character and the courage he showed as a police officer. He will be greatly missed.
I was pleased to see Thames Valley Police rated as ‘Good’ by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). This is a testament to the hard work which has taken place and continues to progress.
They found the force to be outstanding in the way it uses its resources to meet current demand. In the period of cuts to policing, this has enabled Thames Valley Police to continue to provide an excellent service to the public.
Of course, we will continue to focus on areas which need improvement and we welcome the suggestions which have been made in the report. The recent announcement that we will be getting hundreds of new police officers will also have a positive impact and will support these improvements.
Our priority is to support our local communities in any way we can and we are delighted that the HMICFRS has recognised this. I was pleased to hear the recent Home Office announcement of an additional 183 police officers for Thames Valley Police in the first year of the uplift scheme (2020-21), with figures for years two and three of the scheme yet to be confirmed.
This follows my recent positive discussions with the Government on this matter. This addition will ensure that Thames Valley Police can continue to keep our communities safe and protect the most vulnerable in the region.
I will continue to press the need for the Thames Valley to receive the share of these new officers it requires, but this is a great start.
Voluntary and community organisations recognised
On Friday 20 September, 27 voluntary and community organisations were recognised at an event held in recognition of £106,733 being awarded to good causes.
The Police Property Act Fund, jointly managed by the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable, is created from money recovered by the police and the proceeds from the sale of items that cannot be returned to identified owners, including seizures from criminals.
Matthew Barber, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It was fantastic to see so many of these organisations which help our local communities at the event. We were delighted to be able to help these organisations, even in a modest way, to carry out their inspiring work. At the event we also heard from organisations which got funding last year so we could see what good use it was put to. There is some amazing work happening in our communities and we are privileged to be able to support it.”
A total of 61 applications were received in the latest funding round, with 27 organisations successful in receiving funding of between £1,000 – £6,925 to support the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan strategic priorities of Reducing Re-Offending and Serious Organised Crime and Terrorism.
Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “Voluntary organisations play an important role in the Thames Valley. I am pleased to once again provide funding from the Police Property Act Fund to support a range of projects.
"The chosen organisations are working hard to support the Police and Crime Plan with reducing re-offending, serious organised crime and terrorism across the Thames Valley. This is an excellent way of using this funding and I look forward to seeing the outcomes.”
Over 15,000 young people set to benefit from 'County Lines' theatre production
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley has launched a 13-week tour which will seek to educate on the dangers of becoming involved in County Lines. One hundred and thirty schools will welcome tour company AlterEgo Creative Solutions throughout the autumn school term, with additional sessions being held for young people not in education, parents and professionals.
Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld said: “We are delighted to have launched the theatre performances across the Thames Valley as part of our ongoing work to educate young people in our communities. I attended one of the productions myself and, as well as raising awareness of County Lines, the performance reflects on other important areas including grooming and child sexual exploitation.
“Alongside this, we have funded a Fearless worker to deliver workshops in schools and youth venues across the Thames Valley. Covering topics such as drugs and knife crime, these sessions are designed to challenge common misconceptions held by young people as well as signposting them to advice and support.
“Projects like this are really important to educate young people in our communities and give them any support they need early on, before any issues turn into lifelong problems. Preventative work in the first instance is imperative and can be the turning point for many young people.
During National County Lines Intensification Week (Monday 7th - Sunday 13th October) alone, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley organised the theatre performance in 11 secondary schools and youth venues in Buckinghamshire, four Gang Awareness training sessions in Bracknell, West Berkshire and Wycombe (with around 140 professionals being trained), and three ‘Fearless’ workshops delivered in Oxfordshire.
Willow Project marks first year in supporting victims of exploitation
Anti-Slavery Day (18 October) marked the first anniversary of the Victims First Willow Project; the Police and Crime Commissioner's service to support victims of slavery and exploitation. Since launch, the service has supported 445 victims of exploitation. Of those supported, 52% were male and 48% female, with the majority (74%) being British.
46% of victims supported by the Willow Project in its first year were victims of criminal exploitation, which is the exploitation of a person to commit a crime for someone else’s gain.
Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley said “I launched the Willow Project due to the gap in support for victims of exploitation, and I am pleased to see so many victims being supported by the service within the first year.
“It is clear from the Willow Project’s first year figures that many people in our communities are vulnerable to exploitation and it is important that we continue to identify these crimes and provide support to victims.”
Nicola Bell, Programme Manager for the Victims First Willow Project said “Exploitation is a heinous, often hidden crime which seeks out the most vulnerable people in our society. The launch of the Willow Project was crucial in enabling the identification and safeguarding of many potential victims and ensuring that their rights, needs and requirements were recognised.
“Our team has worked hard over the past 12 months to fill a much needed gap in the support provision for victims of exploitation; ensuring those victims get the best support and care, in what can be a long process, to help them regain their dignity and the confidence to make choices and move forward with their lives. We are delighted that with the support from Willow, over 400 people are now able to live a life that is not controlled by others and who are finally free from the grips of exploitation.”
Deputy PCC meets newest member of Mounted Section
The Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Thames Valley was invited to meet the latest recruit of Thames Valley Police’s Mounted Section earlier this month. Police Horse Viktor is the Mounted Section’s latest addition to the team. The Mounted Section play an important role in public order by attending planned and spontaneous public disorder. This can include policing football matches and helping to maintain public order at demonstrations, marches and events.
With the latest addition, Thames Valley Police now have 7 horses in its Mounted Section.
Matthew Barber, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “It was a pleasure to be invited to meet the latest recruit for Thames Valley Police’s Mounted Section earlier this week. I was very impressed with the work taking place during my visit.
“Police Horse Viktor joins an important part of the policing family and will continue to ensure that our communities are kept safe and protected.”