Commissioner's Blog and Office Update - 3rd June
This past week has seen the terrible and tragic killing of George Floyd in the USA at the hands of the police and subsequent protests, turning into riots, spilling across that country. In the UK we have seen, in the wake of this, some protests in this country, with more planned, supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign and reflecting the disgust, anger and pain felt by so many in the USA and across the world. I stand with everyone who condemns a society where people of any ethnicity or persuasion suffer disproportionately simply because of the colour of their skin, their religion or any defining feature that makes them who they are. I hope that without further loss of life, serious injury or damage to property, the issues at the centre of this outpouring of grief and anger are properly addressed. I fear, watching the news, that conflict and opposition are more likely in the short-term than the discussion, understanding, acceptance and subsequent addressing of fundamental issues that this situation requires. Threats and ramping up of the level of force will never solve an issue.
Although we absolutely still have fundamental issues of inequality to address in this country the police do operate under a different system here, with a number of safeguards that don’t exist in the USA. Police and Crime Commissioners have a very important part to play in the governance of policing now, acting as the voice of the public in shaping the priorities and style of policing delivered to communities and great strides have been taken in recent years to ensure police forces more accurately reflect the communities they police. Locally, my office the OPCC, hosts a number of scrutiny meetings where independent members, representing a broad cross-section of the public, look closely at both the police use of force and the application of stop and search. Any sense of a lack of balance or failure to follow proper procedure will be flagged to me and I will hold the Chief Constable to account on addressing the issues raised.
The founding Peelian Principles of UK policing state ‘the public are the police and the police are the public’. That is simply not the basis upon which policing in the USA is founded. British police seek to do so with consent. That consent is based upon confidence created by the actions of police officers, PCSOs and police staff every day, working to make us all safer. During this pandemic the one issue I have stressed to the Chief Constable is that the policing of this crisis must be done in such a way that it does not undermine the confidence of communities for when we emerge from the imposition of the additional rules and laws governing our day to day actions. I believe Humberside Police have acted with the correct balance between enforcement and engagement and that they have actually boosted public confidence during this period, which is a massive endorsement of their approach.
Does all this mean we in the UK will never experience again something as tragic as the George Floyd killing? Unfortunately, the answer is ‘no’. Nothing can provide complete assurance that individuals will not commit serious crimes or make mistakes with serious consequences whether they are police officers or members of the public. What we all can do, and in my position I am working hard to achieve, is to promote an environment where tolerance and equality are the very basic expectations of all our lives, not projects applying for a limited period or only to certain people. Also, that everyone knows if anyone shows the inclination to step beyond the high standards we expect, they will face investigation and justice.
As we are still very much in the grip of this Covid 19 pandemic I would stress that whilst I understand the wish to show solidarity with those suffering in the USA and also raise the issue of equality in the UK, I ask everyone to seriously consider your involvement in any protest where social distancing cannot take place and in any event which breaches current guidance. More tragic deaths, which will occur if people ignore the rules, will not assist anyone or promote any agenda for change.
Although lockdown rules have changed and eased considerably in some respects, current guidance and law still requires us all to maintain social distance and limit the number of people who can meet together to 6 and they specify the circumstances in which they can meet. This past week the media have highlighted many occasions where crowds have gathered for a number of reasons, including protests but also on beaches and other communal areas as people enjoy the good weather. Every occasion this occurs places people at risk of spreading the disease and hence risks others’ lives, including those of health and care workers who we have honoured during these trying times. Regardless of whether you think that the Government are moving too quickly, slowly or at the right pace, regardless of any suspicion about the motive or timing of some announcements, or whether you think stories about driving to test your eyes undermine government messages, our very best chance to emerge from this pandemic remains everyone following the guidance that is in force at any given time. Consistent application is the key to beating this. Pointing to someone else acting outside of guidance as though that provides you with a protective cloak against infection, or passing on infection, is the route to another spike in the disease and another enforced complete lockdown. I urge everyone to use their common sense and not be provoked by the actions of others who should know better.
In preparation for lockdown easing Humberside Police had prepared a plan of action to try and disrupt the re-emergence of serious criminal behaviour. This was flagged under the Operation Galaxy banner and so far, at the time of writing, this has resulted in 133 arrests in 6 days. This is a great effort and shows what the 500 plus additional officers recruited since I was elected can do once trained and out on the streets. We should be seeing more of this activity as the force continues to grow and seeks to recover more of the public space for the law-abiding. I want the Humberside Police area to become a really unwelcoming place for those wanting to commit crime and disrupt the lives of others.
Even before this operation started the national statistics being tracked by the Home Office and the government, to understand how police forces are coping during this period, showed Humberside Police to have consistently the highest arrest rate per head of population in the country. The national image of Humberside Police has changed beyond recognition. The Chief Constable has recently advertised for officers to apply for Chief Inspector and Superintendent vacancies in the Force and even he was taken aback by the level of interest from candidates in other forces. This really is a great vote of confidence from within UK policing as the inside information officers have about the culture and effectiveness of forces can be a better endorsement than that of the Inspectorate, which was good in any case. It can be all too easy to forget where Humberside Police was 4 years ago. Literally at the bottom of the pile, inadequate and lowest morale. What a turnaround it has been. But let me reassure you, our ambition for further improvement knows no bounds and I expect and will work for good news to be the norm going forward.
Finally from me this week, although there is more general information attached below, I want to mention the fact it is National Volunteers Week, where we recognise those who give something back to their communities and thank them for their efforts. In the OPCC we use the services of volunteers in the scrutiny groups I mentioned earlier and as custody visitors and appropriate adults for those held in custody, along with audit, diversity and ethics panels. The Force have a joint volunteer group, together with Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, which provides so many additional services to the public and of course there is the Special Constabulary, volunteer police officers who hold the same powers as regular officers. During the policing of this pandemic special constables have worked significantly more hours to ensure our communities didn’t suffer as the Force felt the strain. This week is also National Specials Weekend where we will recognise their efforts. Let me please say a personal thank-you to all those volunteers in the policing family but also to those other volunteers who work largely unsung in our communities, adding real value to the lives of others. It is you who put the ‘Great’ in Great Britain these days.
Police and Crime Commissioner
Office work update
Protecting Children Online
Locally, there was a story in the news this week about a primary school child who was a victim of online grooming. 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 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.
Happy Pride Month!
June is recognised by many as Pride month with organisations marking this by displaying the Rainbow flag, either via logos or in office windows and online, as a symbol of LGBTI+ pride and social equality. Pride is about communities coming together in celebration, protest, solidarity and unity. We wish to offer support for all our communities, from every culture and background.
Like many other public events, Pride events for 2020 have been cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. However, for those who wish to attend a virtual event on Saturday 27 June, Pride organisations from across the world will celebrate Global Pride 2020: streaming “24 hours of content that reflects and celebrates the beautiful diversity of LGBTI+ people everywhere”: visit www.globalpride2020.org for more information.
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.
Volunteers Week 1st-7th June - To all our volunteers who help us to make our communities safer; Custody Visitors, Diversity and Scrutiny Panel members, Appropriate Adults and Audit Committee members....THANK YOU! Read PCC Keith Hunter's statement HERE
Independent Custody Visiting Scheme
Due to the Covid-19 Lockdown, our Independent Custody Visitors are unable to visit police custody in person so they are now making weekly telephone calls as an alternative form of monitoring. Two of our volunteers called Humberside custody suites this week to discuss conditions with the staff. A detainee was also able to answer some questions via telephone link. We are grateful to the Custody Sergeants and Officers who were helpful and accommodating despite managing very busy custody suites.
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
Coronavirus Information where you live
For links to local council advice sites and other information CLICK HERE
Domestic Abuse - Don't Suffer in Silence
If you, or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse, you can find contact details for support agencies in your area HERE
Posted on Wednesday 3rd June 2020