Commissioner's Blog and Office Update - 2nd July
As the Covid 19 pandemic evolves and lockdown measures ease the Government has decided to stop their daily briefings as living with this threat becomes part of everyday life for the foreseeable future. Currently we seem to be on track, in an incremental way, towards a form of new normality and everyone hopes we don’t hit the buffers, as the risks associated with another spike in infections grows with every phased reduction in lockdown measures. That will remain the case until a vaccine and/or cure is produced and rolled out. Of course, for many, life will never return to the normality it had prior to the pandemic as so many thousands have lost loved ones, family and friends. My thoughts remain with them as they try to adapt to their new reality.
I think, like the government briefings, the time is right to stop these blogs, intended as they were to keep the public of the Humberside Police area updated with what was occurring in the crime prevention, victim services, criminal justice and policing world during these unprecedented times and provide useful information about how to access services during lockdown. These changes are in place and operating successfully now and so we are working through the recovery planning and implementation for the easing of lockdown, ensuring we are positioned for a return to something approaching previous levels of crime and the associated requirement for related services. There has been, however, a lot of positive feedback received regarding the blogs and the information provided. For that reason, I think it may be appropriate to do occasional additional blogs, not necessarily focussed on Covid 19, if and when circumstances are such that it would be of use and interest. In the meantime I will certainly ensure our office utilises the My Community Alert system to get out messages to those who have signed up to that system about any new developments or bits of information that may be of interest. In addition, I would point you all in the direction of the OPCC website should anyone wonder what’s going on in our world as well as Facebook and Twitter. We do try to let people know what we are doing but a decent proportion of it is system-changing and value-adding work that does not necessarily lend itself to regular newsworthy updates.
Since my last blog we have seen some scenes of large gatherings of people that suggests not everyone is applying the common sense the government has asked that we all apply. Put starkly, people who ignore the advice to maintain social distancing, who believe they can gather in large groups, and do so, and who think we are through this crisis and life is back to pre-pandemic normal, are simply putting their lives and others at risk. They are showing disrespect for essential workers, especially in the heath and care services, whose sacrifices have got us to where we are now. I wonder how many people on the beach at Bournemouth, or at one of the other numerous sites, where idiocy seemed to be more prevalent than common sense, also turned out on a Thursday to clap those who they then put at risk so they could sunbathe. Just as I’m writing this, Leicester has been announced as the first place to have a local lockdown imposed upon it. It will not be the last, I’m sure, if the behaviour we have seen continues. Lives are still at stake here and I ask everyone to act accordingly. Show some restraint in your natural desire to recapture the full freedoms of the pre-Covid 19 world and you will actually get them properly that much quicker.
The Black Lives Matter protests have also continued with some signs that the government and others are acknowledging that real change needs to occur. The criticism I have voiced above applies to those on protests also. The perceived virtue of a protest in the eyes of those participating does not reduce the responsibility of those same people to apply social distancing.
There has been some publicity around some of the supposed stated aims of the ‘official’ BLM campaign, although I’m sure most people who have voiced support, myself included, merely want to signify we support the central message i.e. it is not acceptable that a disproportionate number of black people are killed by the state/authority and through entrenched racism that leads to poorer outcomes. One of the other supposed messages of that campaign has been subject of discussion recently; a desire to ‘defund the police’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that is not a message I support as I have been fighting for more resources for the police since I took on the role as PCC. The vast majority of the public I speak to want more policing not less of it because they have suffered the consequences of reduced policing over the past decade. I have been aware for a number of years of an argument put forward by some that policing should be defunded. Some of those who voice it want sufficient funding in education, early intervention and other services so as to prevent people becoming criminalised in the first place and hence a significantly smaller police service would be reasonable. I do think that is a worthy aim. Of course it would be better for all of society if public money was spent on educating and supporting people and families so that no-one turned to crime, rather than arresting, imprisoning and criminalising people. It is naïve in the extreme, however, to believe you can defund the police first to provide the funds for that approach, as some would suggest, and that no-one would ever then go on to commit crimes and create victims who needed justice. This pre-emptive defunding of the police would create anarchy, which is of course, what some of those suggesting it desire.
So, there are some people with good intent who support ‘defund the police’; there are naïve people who support it; and there are those who are either anarchist or on the extreme left who support it with a view to it creating the space in which they would impose their vision of society on an unwilling public. Slogans can draw the support of a very broad cross-section of people with quite opposing views. It is always wise to look below the surface before ascribing a particular belief to anyone who supports a slogan. The BLM movement is not the first example of where this can create issues, but it is a useful reminder. I support the police and I also do not want to see any group dying or disadvantaged simple because of who they are. Those two things can certainly stand together and should in a democracy.
Police and Crime Commissioner
During the Covid-19 pandemic our office has primarily worked to protect the vulnerable through our commissioned services, and accessing funding where it has been made available to assist those who provide such services. We will continue to maintain our efforts as the next chapter unfolds and we work to the 'new normal'.
Our Engagement Team have ensured that the community have had a voice and have been heard during the lockdown, while assisting partners in identifying potential gaps is provision. They have promoted awareness camapaigns on everything from Scams to 'County Lines' organised crime, rural safety issues and anti-social behaviour. In a time when it has been virtually impossible to engage with people face to face, they have pulled out the stops to ensure the right messages were reaching communities by other means.
Our Contracts and Commissioning team have worked closely with our service providers to ensure they could continue to deliver, and in some cases enhance their service to the vulnerable. We secured over £300,000 from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to assist smaller organisations during this crucial period. Read more HERE
We have also been successful in an application to the MoJ for additional provision of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVAs).
The funding will enable the recruitment of an additional 3 ISVAs. The longevity of the support for victims of sexual violence has increased significantly over the previous 3 years, a significant upward trend which is anticipated to continue as a result of supressed demand in light of Covid 19 .
ISVA roles are unique, the level of support is intense and engagement is frequent. Often the requirement to deliver additional support in terms of trauma informed and wider health is complex and demanding. Ensuring multi agency working, and updates around safeguarding concerns, or the police investigation are essential but time consuming. With increasing complex cases this funding means that we are able to offer more agency contact and proactively network with agencies and promote the ISVA role to wider partnerships.
Our Assurance team have had a valuable oversight of the work of Humberside Police and both supported and challenged the force in their work throughout the pandemic.
All our team have all worked well from home and we are now conducting an assessment to ensure some staff can return to working from our office safely and securely, while others will continue to work from home to limit the numbers in the building.
Specifically, some of the projects we have worked on in the last three months are below.
Safeguarding Young People
We are proud to have historically been the primary funder of Not In Our Community investment and new arrangements were introduced from April that saw the campaign come under our increased oversight. Whilst not planned for, this of course coincided with the start of the Covid-19 lockdown across the UK. There has been much activity over the past few weeks to drive forward the Not In Our Community (NIOC) campaign and brand in response to these ever changing times of threat and vulnerability.
In May, in quick-time response to the pandemic and the restrictions imposed, we reacted to concerns raised both locally and nationally of the risk facing our young people as a direct result of lockdown – more time indoors, boredom, vulnerabilities, mental health impacts, family pressures and simply more time online for those children with access – by introducing a ‘home learning’ section on the NIOC site. The appetite and success we have seen for the ‘home learning’ section of the site (see our 11 May media release and also our blog from 27 May) has helped to support and strengthen our resolve and we are now looking to make improvements to the site that will see the full NIOC offering more tangible, targeted and accessible.
In addition to these planned improvements, an application has also been made to the Youth Endowment Fund to further develop the website and bolster our NIOC resource and we are expecting a decision to be communicated to us on this over the next couple of weeks.
The improvements will be made to the site over the next few weeks with the support of our team. Please visit the NIOC website at www.notinourcommunity.org and help us to spread the news of the improvements and the resource available for our communities. We have lots of ideas and plans for the coming weeks and months and need your support in helping us to share this unique, Humber-focused resource.
Domestic Abuse - Don't Suffer in Silence
Our social media campaign during the early weeks of the lockdown reached over 380,000 people. If you, or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse, you can find contact details for support agencies in your area HERE
Coronavirus Information where you live
For links to local council advice sites and other information CLICK HERE
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, in which over 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered in the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War, simply because of their religious identity. As an organisation that works to support our diverse communities we believe that we must ensure we never forget the genocide and reaffirm our commitment to standing up against all forms of hatred and prejudice that targets groups based on their religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or any type of difference.
It is now more important than ever for us to come together as people in the UK, no matter what our background, to celebrate diversity and to stand together in solidarity against hatred and discrimination. We hope you will join us in mourning the loss of those who died at Srebrenica and reflecting on how we as individuals, groups and communities can come together to build a better future without hatred.
Let us mark the 25 years since the Srebrenica massacre to make a pledge both individually and organisationally to move forward in celebration of our differences and at peace with our neighbouring communities. The National ‘Remembering Srebrenica’ Board have a comprehensive website sharing Survivor’s stories, free educational resources and offering solutions to reducing hate and intolerance. We would urge you to visit their website and encourage friends and family to also know and remember the lives lost and help us all learn the lessons from this atrocity. Click here to find out more
If you're targeted because of the colour of your skin, your ethnicity or your faith – please report it to Humberside Police HERE and help to prevent it from happening to anyone else.
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 CLICK HERE to get started.
Posted on Thursday 2nd July 2020