Presentations will be given by the Chief Constable of the Thames Valley Police, and by the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, after which there will be an opportunity to ask questions.
Members welcomed John Campbell QPM, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, and Superintendent Michael Loebenberg (Local Police Area Commander, Aylesbury) to the meeting. Apologies had been sent by Mr Anthony Stansfeld, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Chief Constable gave a presentation during which the following main points were noted:-
· The Thames Valley Police (TVP) had recently been inspected by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) for 2018/19 and been graded as good against the important areas of effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy.
· That the TVP aimed to deliver an excellent service and be regarded as an outstanding force. This would include:
o Focussing on crime reduction and the disruption of criminal activity, creating a hostile environment for those that would do harm.
o Providing a caring, effective and swift response to those in need when people called for help.
o Where crimes were committed, investigating them appropriately and relentlessly to seek justice for victims.
o The response to major and serious incidents and policing operations being first class.
· That the priority outcomes for 2019/20 were to:-
o Reduce crime and incidents through targeted and effective problem-solving.
o Bring more criminals to justice by improving the quality and timeliness of investigations.
o Improve how TVP protected the vulnerable by proactively identifying, understanding and reducing risk and harm.
o Increase the satisfaction of victims and other people in need by responding appropriately and improving communication with them.
· Some of the various actions that TVP would be focussing upon to achieve these outcomes, e.g. problem solving would include a focus on knife crime, the disruption of organised crime groups (including rural crime), County drug lines and making the best use of time and resources by effectively reducing need.
· Information provided on call volumes. The average time to answer 101 calls during April-September 2018 had been 8 minutes, but this had reduced to an average of 3 minutes as of September 2019.
· Information on Officer assaulted during 2019, as follows:-
o 589 officers assaulted during use of force incident Force wide (26 in Aylesbury Vale).
o 216 officers had been spat at Force wide (5 in Aylesbury Vale).
o 23 officers exposed to blood borne virus risk Force wide (1 in Aylesbury Vale)
· Key crime figures over the last 12 months for assault (GBH), rape (domestic), burglary (dwellings and sheds/garages) and theft of vehicles.
· That some of the crime prevention programmes had included a Summer Burglary Campaign and targeting Knife Crime
· Information on Community Resilience initiatives including the Specials Rural Crime Team, Community Speedwatch and the Farmer Resilience Network.
· Information on local issues including County Drug Lines and Organised Crime.
· Information on local Problem Solving including responses to street drinking and begging in Kingsbury, operations that had targeted tactical burglary in the north of the Vale and on the Nash travellers’ site.
Members were informed that since 2010 the TVP had seen the force’s size reduce by 700 uniformed officers and 600 back office staff. The Government had recently announced the recruitment of an additional 20.000 officers nation wide. The first tranche of this recruitment had started although it would take some time for new recruits to be trained.
The Chief Constable and Aylesbury Vale LPA Commander then responded to various comments/questions from individual Members on a range of issues, including:-
· that Police Stations were not usually staffed overnight as all available officers would be out on patrol. TVP would endeavour to respond to all calls, serious ones in particular, as soon and as fast as was possible.
· that there had been a reduction over the last few years in the number of dog handling units that corresponded to reductions in other policing areas such as staffing.
· an explanation of the circumstances under which TVP would be able to issue cautions. However, for many serious types of offences this was not possible and matters had to be decided by the courts.
· an explanation of how TVP managed policing of homeless and vulnerable people.
· that it was recognised that there were likely too many (43) police forces across the UK, although there weren’t currently plans for any mergers.
· that the Crime Survey for England and Wales was an important monitor of the extent of crime in England and Wales.
· that while TVP were supportive of Community Speed Watch, e.g. speeding and speed limits through villages, it was also a difficult area to police.
· on the initiatives being undertaken to combat rural crime that included a rural Whatsapp. This was assisted by Aylesbury Vale also having the largest social media following of any policing area in the Thames Valley.
· that hate crime was not a significant issue for Aylesbury Vale, although there did tend to be spikes following terrorist attacks and when there were Brexit votes.
· acknowledging that there was a likely link between fraud targeting vulnerable people. The police were open minded to exploring new ways of working such as the establishment of a National Anti-Fraud Organisation to take some workload/responsibility away from police although it was also important for local police to be aware of what was happening in their areas.
· that it was unlikely that people who were subjected to domestic violence would be more likely to lose custody or access to their children.
· that the TVP had established a team in September of a Sergeant and 5 officers who were specifically looking at the recruitment of people who came from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
In conclusion, the Chairman and Members expressed their sincere thanks to the Chief Constable and the Aylesbury Vale Local Police Area Commander for the opportunity to engage in a frank and informative exchange of views.