Update from Surrey Police Chief Constable Lynne Owens
Issue 39: September 2015
I want to dedicate most of this month’s bulletin to sharing with you how the nature of policing is changing and what that means for us here in Surrey.
To give you some context, we currently receive around 1,500 requests for service every day and to fully understand what this is made up of the Force has undertaken an in-depth six month analysis.
The results will be used to help us develop a sustainable and scalable local policing model that better enables us to focus on the right priorities and demands and has the flexibility to respond to new opportunities, threats and risks as they emerge. This is about making sure can make the right decisions in the best interests of the public for now and into the future.
There have been some interesting findings from the analysis and I think it is important to share some of these with you to really highlight what the policing picture in Surrey currently looks like.
What is changing?
We know the nature of reported crime and offending patterns are changing. More is happening behind closed doors and online which means we are seeing increases in reports of crimes like domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation, sexual offences and cybercrime, and a reduction in traditional volume crimes such as burglary and car crime.
hese are crimes which are more complex to investigate and often involve physical harm to the victims. It is imperative that our response can support this increase in vulnerable victims and bring their offenders to justice.
At the same time, funding for public services continues to reduce.
We already face significant financial challenges, with further cuts to the police budget likely for the next five years. We are currently awaiting the unveiling of the government’s spending review in November with bated breath.
We want to make the best choices we can so the public get the right services from us as we face even less funding and changing and growing demands on us. To get to the heart of this we have been examining the services we can and should provide so that we can be clear about what will have to change. We are calling this the Policing in Your Neighbourhood (PIYN) project.
So what has been keeping us busy?
Many would assume that town centres would feature in the top five locations that the police are routinely called to. In Surrey this has proven not to be the case as the top five locations are all hospitals. We need to continue our work with health care providers to understand how we can prevent and reduce this in the future. Of course we should and always will attend those situations where a police response is required, such as if a member of staff is assaulted, but often the calls are not of that nature.
Our next busiest places for police attendance were Woking, Camberley and Guildford town centres, the A3 – in particular around Wisley services north and south – and Sunbury Cross shopping centre.
Our two busiest times of the day are around 4pm and 11pm when we see the biggest spike in calls. For the latter, callers sometimes don’t have anywhere else to go for non-police concerns out of hours and this will need to change.
We know that both the police Safeguarding Investigation Units and Surrey County Council’s Social Services are increasingly stretched – in the last year alone 1,000 strategy meetings were held.
We have a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub which sees officers working closely with social workers and other partners to respond to concerns around young people and vulnerable adults. Last year it received over 20,000 referrals that required risk assessing. Any concerns for safety lead to a co-ordinated response which puts a stretch on all of us involved but is important as it’s often focused on the most vulnerable.
Calls to deal with missing people are rising – last year we responded to almost 3,000 more than the previous year. We need to work with partners such as hospitals and children’s homes to see if more can be done to reduce this in the interests of the individuals needing help and the impact on our services.
Nearly half of those detained in custody in the last year had mental health or wellbeing issues. Work is already underway with partner organisations to ensure the right agency responds in these instances and people can access the most appropriate service.
In a world where police funding is reducing, it is critical we get this right. Without the required cross service reform it will be the public, most notably the more vulnerable members of our society, who will otherwise suffer as a consequence.
We will be holding a series of events online and via our social media channels in the coming months to have conversations with the public about these issues.
Many of you are partners who are also affected by these changing pressures and are likely to want to understand more about what we have found and how together we can reduce them. Therefore, Assistant Chief Constable Gavin Stevens will be sharing more detail with those of you most affected shortly. There will be the opportunity to come to Mount Browne for some partnership events where you can find out more and we can develop some coordinated solutions.
Reform of police funding arrangements in England and Wales
You may be aware that policing in Surrey receives a very small central government grant compared to other forces. The Home Office has recognised that the current funding formula needs to be reviewed and has been carrying out a consultation with Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables across England and Wales to get feedback on a new police funding model.
We have provided a joint response with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office to the consultation and we are now waiting for the Home Office proposals to be finalised on the back of the 1,700 responses they received to the consultation before there are further opportunities to comment on it.
Here is just a flavour of some of our policing activity this month – ranging from burglary and drink-driving to sexual offences and anti-social behaviour – all of it helping to keep the Surrey public safe.
A delivery driver from Mytchett has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for more than 20 serious sexual offences against children. He was also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and will remain on the Sex Offenders Register until further notice. This was a long and complex investigation which found that he had created five accounts on Twitter from which to access and upload indecent images of children which were distributed via the social media channel.
A man found guilty of the murder of his younger brother in Farncombe earlier this year has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum tariff of 12-years.
The power of social media was demonstrated earlier this month when the life of a highly vulnerable missing woman was saved as a direct result of a member of the public seeing our appeal on Facebook and reporting her sighting to us so we were able to find her.
A drink-driver from Woking has been banned for three years after being caught over the limit – coincidentally by the same two Roads Policing officers – twice in two weeks. He was initially stopped on the A3, charged with drink-driving and released on bail. However while on bail he was stopped again when his vehicle was found to have an expired MOT certificate and found to be over the drink-drive limit again.
A 25-year-old man has been given a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO), banning him from the Spelthorne area for three years. He has also been banned from acting in a threatening or aggressive manner, inciting others to act in a threatening manner, or cause alarm or distress towards any person within Surrey. The series of offences which led to the CBO being issued included assault, theft, criminal damage, burglary, robbery, drugs offences and public order offences. Tackling his drug dealing activity also led to a crack house closure in Cadbury Road, Sunbury last year.
Surrey Police has used new powers to obtain its first Interim Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction against a 29 year old woman to put a stop to the nuisance and distress she caused to the residents of Runnymede until a trial date is set.
A man has been arrested on suspicion of distraction-style burglaries in which vulnerable adults in the Woking and West Molesey areas were targeted.
A 23 year old man from Basingstoke who was responsible for the theft of large numbers of DVDs and video games has been sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to a string of thefts from shops across the county.
We have arrested two men following an armed robbery at a Co-Operative store in Smallfield on 26 September. Three members of staff were working in the store at the time and were left extremely shaken after being threatened.
Key diary dates
Anti-Social Behaviour Awareness Week: This partnership campaign running during w/c 28 September aims to ensure residents know which organisation deals with each type of ASB and what can be done to tackle it, enabling local problems to be solved earlier and hopefully resulting in a better service to the public.
Epsom & Ewell Crime Summit: 6.30 – 9pm, 12 October, Longmead Centre, Espom
Reigate & Banstead Crime Summit: 6.30 – 9pm, 22 October, Harlequin Theatre, Redhill
Tandridge Crime Summit: 6.30 – 9pm, 3 November, District Council Offices, Oxted
For details of Neighbourhood Panel meetings, Police Surgeries and ‘Meet the Beat’ sessions in your neighbourhood, visit our website: www.surrey.police.uk