Commissioner's Blog and Office Update - 27th May
It’s probably fair to say the past week hasn’t been the quietest since the lockdown started, with regard to media reporting or the number of people who have been out and about in public. So, let me start with addressing the issue of the senior government adviser, Dominic Cummings, his actions during lockdown and the subsequent calls for his resignation/sacking/apology.
I have my personal views on a lot of points in this matter, but as an elected official with a specific role to fulfil I will limit my official comment to issues affecting my particular focus i.e. the effective and efficient operation of Humberside Police, the promotion of community safety and the operation of the broader criminal justice system.
Since the Covid 19 pandemic started and this country introduced new rules and guidance to limit the spread of the disease I have been clear that regardless of whether you support the approach taken or not, the key to maintaining public safety is a consistent application and enforcement of whatever rules apply. The vast majority of people have put the public interest above their own and their families’ during this period in a way that should make us all proud of the collective effort. I am not party to any more detail than anyone else, as to exactly what Dominic Cummings did. It is reported that Durham Constabulary are conducting an enquiry into the matter now so I have no wish to speculate further. Whether he should stay, go or apologise is not something I can influence and so to pontificate upon it publicly could risk undermining, for those who disagree with my view, other public safety messages I may wish to give. My consideration must remain the safety of the public not merely seeking to add to a feeding frenzy, regardless of the rights or wrongs of the matter.
As lockdown has eased recently and further relaxations are due, we have to rely more and more upon individuals applying common sense as it becomes less and less feasible for the police to enforce compliance. There are those who will use the example of Mr Cummings to justify their own stretching or breaking of whatever guidelines are in force at any given time. In my view that is a wrong and dangerous approach that will undermine consistency, which I still believe is vitally important for control of the virus. I believe however, that anyone doing that would likely still have behaved much the same but used a different excuse, if Mr Cummings had not done as he did. Using him as the excuse does not provide anyone with a protective shield against infection and protecting against a further surge in infections is vital to both public health and getting the country back to work and re-building the economy. That’s what I want to see. No political distractions should get in the way of what we need to do to achieve that. I want to see the Cummings issue dealt with, one way or another, clear messaging from government and a consistent application of guidelines and rules by everyone. If that occurs it allows the police to support the public to achieve what we all want. Because, as I’ve said previously, the rules and guidance around Covid 19 cannot be enforced purely by the police, the police can only support the public in achieving compliance.
Many of us will have seen pictures of really crowded public places over the Bank Holiday weekend as the lovely weather drew people away from their houses, although in the Humberside Police area we didn’t see some of the biggest crowds. I urge people not to assume we are yet through the worst of this and we can let our guard down. History shows us that second waves of viruses can and do occur and applying current guidance is the best way to ensure we don’t see another spike in infections. For those of us who haven’t lost anyone yet, please remember every statistic is a family grieving for someone who has died. This is not an exercise in illustrating that if some people don’t appear to stick to the rules, none of us need to. People will die needlessly if we do that.
In the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner we have been continuing to push our messages about the support available to people affected by domestic abuse and also the packages that we have provided to assist parents and teachers, as well as the children themselves, to avoid the dangers of online grooming. We are also preparing and co-ordinating bids for additional funding from central government to assist the providers of services to victims during this period.
If you haven’t already seen something, I anticipate you will see over the coming days and weeks a number of reports in the media about the Humberside Police Operation Galaxy initiative. This will see a major step up in concentrated activity to counter the effects of the easing of the lockdown and on criminality. I was keen to support the Force in this operation and I will provide additional funding to ensure a real impact. During lockdown crime has fallen and there is no doubt that as restrictions are eased criminals will be looking to resume their activity. The Force now has over 500 officers more than when I took office and there is a real opportunity to use them on the back of the recent reduction in crime to try to ‘take the ground’ previously occupied by the criminals and prevent them simply resuming where they left off. This is an approach with a number of different elements but all with that same aim.
This approach has come to the attention of the Home Secretary and Policing Minister and there is interest at the national level around what we can accomplish during this planned activity. Humberside Police once again is being scrutinised nationally for the right reasons, as a leader illustrating good practice.
The Chief Constable is keen that this operation is just the beginning of an evolving approach to how the Force operate against crime and criminals. When I became PCC the Force simply didn’t have enough officers to take a more proactive approach. I knew it was vital to do whatever I could to bring in more officers so during the past 4 years we re-worked the finances in an innovative manner. The result is Humberside Police has seen by far the greatest proportionate increase in officers in the country. As more and more become able and trained to operate effectively the time is ripe to really start challenging those who impact badly on the lives of others. I have long said we must regain public spaces for the law-abiding and I think we are really at the beginning of an exciting period when we will start to see that happen more and more. I will watch with interest and continue to challenge and support the Force at every opportunity.
Police and Crime Commissioner
Office work update
Support for Protecting Children Online
Across our communities during the Covid-19 lockdown, those children with access will be spending more time online, potentially putting themselves at risk from online threats. On 11 May we launched a package of measures through our Not In Our Community (NIOC) brand to support parents in protecting their children from grooming. The Commissioner reached out to parents/carers and youth engagement professionals across Humberside to alert them to online threats and to advise of this newly created resource.
We’ve seen real success so far and continue to receive fantastic feedback from parents and stakeholders alike. ‘My 11 year old watched this and said he learnt things he hadn’t known from other online safety training, parts were ‘scary’ but the learning points were clear. Such an important topic for young people, thanks for developing it…’
The accompanying session plans are a ‘good way of reinforcing the morals behind the films. I think that worked really well’.
The website has seen 6 times the amount of visitors with an average now of 112 users per day. With 87.2% of visitors being new users, our communications are clearly working and news of the resource reaching out across our communities. We need your help in continuing to share the link to the resource - www.notinourcommunity.org/home-learning
With the appetite we have seen for the advice and activities in this format and available on this platform, we have ambitious plans to develop the concept further still. The resource is created with our communities, for our communities. Please help us to continue to spread the message and to share the resource, support and advice available. Education is power and prevention is key.
Our domestic abuse awareness social media campaign has been running for a month with messages being widely shared. If you, or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse, you can find contact details for support agencies in your area HERE
My Community Alert
You may be receiving this blog because you are one of over 30,000 people now signed up to the My Community Alert service which enables users to receive regular local updates by email, text or telephone from the police and fire services in addition to the Police and Crime Commissioner. It's a really useful service, even more so in the current climate, so if you're not signed up yet go to www.mycommunityalert.co.uk to get started.
Independent Custody Visiting Scheme
We have implemented an alternative process for monitoring the welfare of detainees in custody during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Our team of visitors are unable to attend the custody suite in person but they are able to call the custody suites each week to discuss conditions with the staff. They may also be able to speak to detainees via telephone.
Humberside Police are providing a custody overview twice daily, along with redacted custody records each week for scrutiny. OPCC staff are in regular contact with the custody Inspectors for the purpose of discussing conditions for detainees and staff.
We would like to thank the custody teams for their exemplary commitment to their roles and to ensuring detainee welfare in these difficult circumstances. You can find more information on Custody Visiting HERE
Financial Support for charities and Social Enterprise
The National Lottery launched a £200m fund aimed primarily at small to medium organisations in England on 22 May 2020. The fund is part of the Government’s £750m COVID 19 financial support package for charities and social enterprises announced by Government on April 8. Details can be found HERE
Coronavirus Information where you live
For links to local council advice sites and other information CLICK HERE
Domestic Abuse - Don't Suffer in Silence
Posted on Wednesday 27th May 2020