Commissioner's Blog and Office Update - 1st May 2020
As we chalk up another week in lockdown we continue to see some of the best in us being displayed together with some of the tensions that inevitably are now showing. The newly promoted Colonel Tom Moore reached 100 years of age and over £30 million pounds raised in his heroic efforts to support the NHS at this time. What an example he has set the country and it is only right and proper that he received the attention he did. Congratulations sir, you are a star!
On the other hand the lack of clear messaging from Government about social distancing is contributing to a more problematic environment for the police in attempting to deliver enforcement in a consistent manner across the country. Many more people are now using cars to travel to places where they may wish to exercise and some more shops are opening even if they are not necessarily selling what many would describe as ‘essential’ goods. The reality is that without a heavy handed approach to enforcement by the police, which really wouldn’t be consistent with our tradition of policing, we all rely on good sense and a desire to assist the NHS to maintain the degree of social distancing that will deliver the reduction in infection rates we all wish to see. Our police locally are maintaining the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance and using the issuing of fixed penalty notices as a last resort. Humberside police has now issued around 80 notices which is one of the fewest of any force in the country. But this isn’t a league table, it is about how social distancing is being maintained and in this area there remains a good adherence to the policy, which is keeping infection rates to a relatively low level. But let’s never forget, even low levels lead to unnecessary deaths and families mourning the loss of loved ones.
As part of my role I provide some scrutiny of Humberside police and on a weekly basis discuss with the Chief Constable how the issuing of fixed penalty notices is progressing and the general approach of the force to maintaining social distancing. I remain pleased with their overall approach and have received lots of feedback from members of the public praising the force for its approach. The desire of the Chief Constable to have his officers and PCSOs out on foot being visible and interacting with the public seems to have gone down very well and is a key part of showing that the force are working with the public to deliver social distancing, not simply enforcing it and doing it to the public. I have also seen some complaints that the force are not responding to every report of someone breaching the rules. That is and will remain the case. The force simply does not have that level of capacity, but it does review all reports and repeat offenders will be identified to allow the force to engage with them, whilst large scale breaches will be responded to immediately if feasible.
Protective equipment for the force is available as required currently and Covid-19 testing for the staff, to allow them to maintain services, is now properly up and running. This all bodes well for the future.
This week has seen my office, the OPCC, launch a “Can’t Wait For This To Be Over”social media campaign aimed at informing members of the public about services that are available to them should they be subject of domestic abuse (DA) and offering advice on how to access those services. This has been done in partnership with co-commissioners and the providers of services to those subject to domestic violence right across the Humber area. This will see messages being pushed out to the general public but also, probably for the first time in the country, we are using data to identify areas where there is a high prevalence of DA and paying for targeted messages via Facebook to people in these areas to really try and let everyone know, who is suffering, that help is available and they need not feel constrained by lockdown – you can report and/or seek support and it will be provided. For a full list of DA services across Humberside visit youarenotalone.online.
I have, this week, chaired a meeting of the Local Criminal Justice Board, in which all organisations that contribute towards the functioning of the criminal justice system (CJS) come together to try and make the system work better. During this pandemic the courts have not been operating normally for some time and although all agencies have done a sterling job to keep the system functional, it is more important than ever that together we look across the whole system to understand where the stresses are and how we can move to a method of operating that maintains the health of those involved but also allow the wheels of justice to keep turning. It is absolutely imperative that the CJS keeps working, delivering justice for the public and that it maintains the confidence of the public. The reality is that some backlogs are beginning to build up and it’s important we start planning now how we can address these. I am raising the matter with national politicians and with the relevant ministries. Reverting to business as usual will not suffice. We must be prepared to do some things differently if we are to keep the free flow of cases that is essential to the CJS.
Also, this week, just a mention for the OPCC Engagement Officers who I know many of you come into contact with under normal circumstances. Usually they are my vital link to understand what is happening on the ground in each local authority area and they fly the flag of the OPCC, acting as the voice of the public to ensure services engage with communities in shaping community safety service delivery. Well they, like most people, are having to work from home so aren’t quite as visible as they would be normally. They are still working though and still want to know what is working and what isn’t working in the delivery of local services. They are still contactable by the usual means and I would encourage you to keep them in the loop. They are still working on your behalf, as we all are in the OPCC. It’s what keeps us going.
Your Engagement Officers can be contacted using the contact details below:
- East Riding of Yorkshire Engagement Officer – Debbie Fagan - Deborah.Fagan@humberside.pnn.police.uk – 07464985366
- Hull Engagement Officer – Matthew Wright - Matthew.Wright.firstname.lastname@example.org - 07464985369
- North Lincolnshire Engagement Officer – Claire Welford - Claire.Welford@humberside.pnn.police.uk - 07464985199
- North East Lincolnshire Engagement Officer – Katrina Goodhand - Katrina.Goodhand@humberside.pnn.police.uk – 07464985368
Just a reminder that during this period there are those who see it as an opportunity to carry on with their criminal behaviour and who will amend their approaches to fit the circumstances. Frauds related to Covid-19 are growing significantly. Please be suspicious about any unsolicited contact being made with you through the telephone, e-mail, social media or other internet means. Always ask someone else if in doubt and please don’t give any details that could put you at risk of fraud. If you believe that you are the victim of fraud, you should contact Action Fraud by either reporting the incident using Action Fraud’s online fraud reporting tool or call 0300 123 2040. The exception to this is if: a crime is in progress; the suspect is known or can be easily identified; or the crime involves a vulnerable victim. If this is the case you should contact police directly on 999 in an emergency or 101 in non-emergency.
Finally, I’d like to ask you to keep an eye out for any signs of modern slavery or trafficking. We have had another example detected this week in our area and this is going on under our noses all of the time. Look for any signs and report to The Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700, or Humberside Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. Details of links to information about these crimes are can be found on the Humber Modern Day Slavery Partnership website.
Look after yourselves, your loved ones and stay at home to protect the NHS.
Police and Crime Commissioner
Due to extra funding from the Ministry of Justice the Victim Support’s Live Chat service is now available 24/7 for the next 6 months. This will give victims of crime an alternative way of accessing the support they need after being impacted by crime. In addition, they are providing unsupported access their SilverCloud online therapeutic for people affected by Covid-19. SilverCloud is an app which provides a range of information on how to help yourself after a crime. It gives users the opportunity to carry out exercises, write their feelings on the app and gives techniques on how to relax, sleep and breathe. It now includes a specific programme to provide support with the impact of COVID-19. People wanting to access the service or find out can do so by calling Victim Support on 0300 303 1976.
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Domestic Abuse - You are Not Alone
Posted on Friday 1st May 2020