PROTECTING PEOPLE AT RISK OF HARM

Expand Paedophile On-line Investigation Team

Expand Paedophile On-line Investigation Team

Within 100 days of office, resources were allocated to the Paedophile On-Line Investigation Team (POLIT) to increase the number of officers proactively seeking out offenders.

POLIT is formed within CAIT (Child Abuse Investigation Team) and works as the Force’s specialist response to subjects who view and/or distribute indecent images of children (IIOC) - or who groom, incite and/or facilitate sexual activity with children through use of the internet.

Dorset is among a minority of police forces that were graded as ‘Good’ in the HMIC vulnerability inspection last year. It is important that the Force builds on this positive result to continue to ensure the best response in dealing with online child abuse.

 

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#RU2Drunk Pilot

#RU2Drunk Pilot

The pilot scheme, designed to target the culture of excessive pre-drinking and cut alcohol-related crime, saw breathalysers distributed to 29 pubs, clubs and bars across Weymouth.

The project was jointly funded by the OPCC and Weymouth BID. Throughout, Dorset Police worked closely with senior lecturers at the University of Exeter, who developed the analysis and carried out the evaluation of the project.

Owners set an alcohol limit for their premise and door staff were able to use readings that exceeded this limit as an additional tool, supporting their own judgement when refusing entry.

In December, typically one of the busiest times in the night time economy of Weymouth, there was a 15% reduction in violent crime compared to 2015 figures. However, with full and consistent support from owners of pubs and clubs involved, it is hoped that these early successes can be improved upon further.

Results so far

Scrutiny of spit guards

Scrutiny of spit guards

In his capacity as chair of the Independent Custody Visiting Association, the Commissioner wrote to the Home Office, the Home Affairs Select Committee and local MPs to call for further scrutiny, research and guidance before the further roll out of spit guards to frontline officers.

Having served as a police officer, the Commissioner has experienced the vile act of spitting and biting first hand. The principle that police officers and staff should not be spat at is beyond dispute; but what remains open to question is whether spit guards are the best method through which to ensure that this is effectively and safely achieved.

Questions raised included:

•What alternatives are available?
•What measures are in place to ensure appropriate use with regards to vulnerable detainees?
•How should officers alter tactics between a detainee spitting at the point of arrest and a person spitting in custody?
•Why are different forces using different equipment?
•Could tougher sentencing be considered to act as a stronger deterrent to spitting?
•What do other organisations that face such a threat do?
•Why are spit guards not also used in the NHS, Prison Service or Europe?

Read the full blog

Dorset ICV Scheme Performance

Dorset ICV Scheme Performance

ICVA has recently shared the benchmarking data for ICV Schemes nationally.

The Dorset Scheme managed to visit 5.1% of detainees held in custody suites in Dorset in the last quarter, ranking it second in the country.  

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are volunteers drawn from all walks of life whose main role is to provide an independent check on the welfare of people who are detained in police custody. They do this by making random visits in pairs to police custody suites throughout the county and reporting their findings.

Recruitment is currently ongoing for new Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs). Could you take on this unique volunteering opportunity?

Find out more

Modern Slavery Conference 2017

Modern Slavery Conference 2017

The Safer Poole Partnership hosted a conference at the Lighthouse in Poole on the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking. The PCC closed the event.

Speaking afterwards, the Commissioner said: "Modern slavery is a brutal form of organised crime, in which people are treated as commodities and exploited. The conference highlighted the role we must all play to tackle enslavement and exploitation in our communities.

"The Modern Slavery Act, enacted in March 2015, sent a strong signal to criminals that involvement in this vile trade will not be tolerated. It unified and simplified previous legislation. It gave law enforcement new powers. It increased sentencing powers and strengthened protections for survivors. It established the first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and most important of all, it underlined the UK’s commitment to eradicating modern slavery.

"But modern slavery continues to plague us nationally. It’s taking place close to home and Dorset isn’t exempt. Great strides have been made in our approach to dealing with this crime, but there is still a long way to go."

You can read the Commissioner's full reflections, including specific pledges he has made, by clicking the link.

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Campaign for compulsory Sex & Relationship Education

Campaign for compulsory Sex & Relationship Education

The Commissioner backed the campaign for legislative change to make sex and relationship education compulsory in all schools in England.

Acting upon the advice of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and others, Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening confirmed in March 2017 that this education will be put on a statutory footing by 2018.

Previously, schools that are not under local authority control - academies, free schools and private schools, of which Dorset has many - have not been obligated to teach sex and relationship education. Children attending schools that are under local authority control need only receive biology lessons to tick the box.

What this means in practice is that children’s conceptions of ‘normal’ relationships are being shaped, or perhaps misshaped, by what they experience at home, what they see online and what their peers deem to be acceptable.

This leaves children in a vulnerable position. Where child sexual abuse occurs, the perpetrators in 90% of cases are known to the victim and over half are family members.

The evidence demonstrates that pupils that receive PSHE lessons are more likely to report abuse and have consenting relationships. This is why we must do all we can to ensure children recognise inappropriate relationships as soon as they begin to develop and get the support and early intervention they need.

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Mental Health Provisions

Mental Health Provisions

As APCC Portfolio Lead for Mental Health and Custody Issues, the Commissioner, backed by over two thirds of PCCs nationally, wrote to Ministers to formally express reservations with regards to changes to the Mental Health Act 1983.

The Commissioner challenged the view that police stations or cells can continue to be used as places of safety for people in mental health crisis, in exceptional circumstances.

While the Commissioner welcomes the changes with respect of persons under 18 years of age, he continues to lobby Government to extend that same protection to all persons.

Read the full letter

Tackling knife crime

Tackling knife crime

The Home Office launched a new #knifefree campaign to reduce knife crime among young people on 23 March 2018.

We’re seeing an upward trend in offences involving a knife or sharp instrument being recorded by police nationally. While overall numbers locally are low, we must get to grips with the issue.

PCC Martyn Underhill, who has previously supported local charities to educate young people around the risks of carrying bladed weapons, issued a blog explaining his views on the matter.

He said: "While we are fortunate to live in a county infrequently affected by knife crime, a significant proportion of the incidents we do see are related to domestic abuse. 

"We need to change mind-sets on a number of levels and learn from the successes seen in Scotland where knife crime is viewed through a public health lens, which recognises that we must change attitudes towards violence more generally."

For the Commissioner's full views, click to read his blog piece.

 

Read the full blog

Awareness Week Campaign

Awareness Week Campaign

This Mental Health Awareness Week, which ran from Monday 8 to Sunday 14 May 2017, my Office organised a campaign with the support of Dorset Police, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, South West Ambulance Service Trust and Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust to take that pledge one step further.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, which ran from Monday 8 to Sunday 14 May 2017, my Office organised a campaign with the support of Dorset Police, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, South West Ambulance Service Trust and Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust to take that pledge one step further.

One in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem in any given year. Colleagues in the blue light community are even more likely to suffer with mental ill health than those in other professions, and are less likely to seek help.

Having been in policing for over 30 years, the Commissioner has personal experience of the risks facing emergency service personnel when it comes to maintaining good mental health.

The OPCC issued case studies from frontline police officers and staff, fire officers , paramedics and nurses on Dorset PCC social media channels. Blue light colleagues shared examples of personal techniques used to manage stress, anxiety and depression. The positive campaign focused on providing emergency service workers with practical advice and new techniques to try to stay on top of mental health.

Check out @PCCDorset social media channels and search the hashtags #ITookHome and #ItsGoodToTalk to find out more about the campaign.

Read the full blog

Protect the Protectors - Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

Protect the Protectors - Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

A blog from PCC Martyn Underhill at the end of Mental Health Awareness Week highlighting a focus on police officer and staff welfare as well as outlining some of the current mental health work in Dorset

The pressure on policing is well documented. Police officers and staff often face challenging situations in carrying out their duties to protect the public. We ask a lot of our officers and I thank them for their ongoing commitment and dedication.

But for all the good work that is being done in the community, there comes a time when empathy and thanks are not enough to tackle the personal challenges that officers and staff face. We must ensure that mental health and wellbeing is central in all we do. We must ‘Protect the Protectors’!

Since becoming PCC, I have appointed a Mental Health Coordinator for Dorset Police to work on ways to reduce the impact on officers and look at alternative mechanisms to ensure that front line officers and staff are supported. I have also worked closely with the Force to develop a Wellbeing Strategy and improve the early diagnosis of PTSD through a peer support system for those who have been exposed to psychological trauma and I am pleased that we now more have more support systems in place that ever before.

But there is still more to do and that is why I have given £250,000 to the new Chief Constable to bring together best practice and activity that is already underway from across both forces; and to deliver a clear, consistent strategy and action plan in order to find the gaps in service and provide effective solutions.

Read the full blog >

Getting tougher on animal cruelty

Getting tougher on animal cruelty

The Commissioner campaigned on the issue of animal cruelty and the implications for policing.

A recent report found than more than 92% of offenders avoided prison in the last decade following abhorrent acts of violence against pets. The PCC has urged the Government to consider the impact of these offenders slipping through the net.

In a blog, the Commissioner argued:

"Animal cruelty frequently occurs as a precursor or indicator of a tangled web of abusive behaviour. Researchers have found that perpetrators’ first target is often an animal living in the home, the second a spouse or child. Disturbingly, offenders often threaten to torture, injure or kill the victim's pets as a mechanism through which to emotionally control and coerce human victims. 

"There are real implications here for policing. Campaigners are calling for the creation of a register of animal cruelty offenders – similar to the sex offenders register - to better monitor the most prolific perpetrators. This could be beneficial when it comes to protecting people at risk of harm, a key pillar in my new Police & Crime Plan for Dorset, by enhancing the intelligence picture available to officers when attempting to identify perpetrators of domestic violence."

"I support the Government’s commitment to reviewing the maximum sentence for animal abusers. But this review must go further and treat the relationship between animal abuse and domestic abuse with paramount importance."

Read the full blog

NATIONAL SEXUAL ABUSE AND VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK

NATIONAL SEXUAL ABUSE AND VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK

In February 2018, the PCC marked National Sexual Abuse and Violence Awareness Week with a visit to the Dorset Rape Crisis Support Centre (DRCSC).

DRCSC began in the late eighties as a helpline for women and girls, but has evolved into a centre providing services to men, women, children and young people. It has had to develop in order to meet increasing demand, and OPCC funding has recently been secured for another Children and Young Person’s Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA).

Independent Sexual Violence Advisors offer practical and emotional support to individuals who have been affected by sexual violence, and their families. They offer advice on issues such as criminal justice procedures, witness statements, accessing special measures and informing victims about the progress of their case. They will assist in building a support network for individuals, including signposting family members to appropriate services and attending meetings with other agencies including GPs or housing.

PCC Martyn Underhill continued: “I am passionate about this area, so I was pleased when DRCSC approached my office to fund this post as the need is clearly there. Demand is increasing, particularly as we work to educate young people on healthy relationships and consent while also raising awareness of the support services available.”

If you have experienced sexual violence, or if you know someone who has, there are many organisations that can help. Visit www.dorsetforyou.com/dvahelp for details, or call Dorset Rape Crisis Support Centre on 01202 308855 or The Shores on 01202 552056. In an emergency – if a crime is in progress or life is in danger – please dial 999.

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Lobbying for enhanced port security

Lobbying for enhanced port security

The Department for Transport issued Maritime 2025, a consultation on the long term strategy for the maritime sector.

Security and resilience was one theme of the call for evidence and presented the opportunity for the Police and Crime Commissioner to share his views on what can be done to improve maritime security.

Martyn Underhill took the opportunity to lobby further for enhanced small port security and highlight innovations such as underwater drones, Capitainerie schemes and a National Coastal Network.

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HMIC report on policing and mental health - PCC response

HMIC report on policing and mental health - PCC response

A report released today by HMICFRS (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services) clearly shows the overwhelming demand placed on police services by dealing with people who have mental health issues.

The report ‘Policing and mental health: picking up the pieces’, states that people with mental health issues are being let down, placing an intolerable burden on police officers and staff.

 

Read the full response >

PCC commissioned service recognised as best practice for tackling stalking

PCC commissioned service recognised as best practice for tackling stalking

The Police and Crime Commissioner's commissioning of the You First Stalking Clinic has been identified as best practice in a report by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust published a report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Two Years On, on the local response to stalking and harassment. It highlighted Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner as an example of best practice for commissioning a specialist service for victims of stalking.

The Police and Crime Commissioner funded the You First Stalking Clinic to deliver a coordinated response to stalking across Dorset by working with police, probation, mental health and other services.

Figures also show Dorset Police as well above average in thier group for the number of recorded cases. This indicates good awareness and accurate crime recording for these types of crimes in Dorset.

Find out more about the Suzy Lamplugh Trust >

Times have changed - PCC blogs on policing and mental health

Times have changed - PCC blogs on policing and mental health

Times have changed when it comes to talking about mental health.

When I had my own mental health problems, just over a decade ago, I would not have been able to stand up in front of a roomful of police officers and speak openly about it.

As recently as the mid-2000s, it was still a taboo subject.

Something that happened to ‘weak people’. Something you just didn’t talk about.

Now, thankfully, it seems society has moved on. Perhaps thanks to campaigns like ‘Time To Talk’ and the good work being done by charities, perhaps thanks to more responsible coverage in the media, or perhaps down to the likes of Princes William and Harry speaking out, we now have a much more grown-up attitude towards mental health issues...

 

 

 

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Dorset Police publishes Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan

Dorset Police publishes Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan

Dorset Police publishes its Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan in support of the Commissioner's Police and Crime Plan objectives.

Protecting the public from harm is, and always will be, a core police duty. However, the demands placed on the police have shifted greatly in recent years and resources need to be effectively targeted on the basis of threat, risk and harm.

Tackling domestic abuse forms part of the Police and Crime Plan priorities under the pillar of 'Protecting People at Risk of Harm' and Dorset Police has published its Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan for the next year to demonstrate its commitment to tackling the issue, which is one of the Force priorities. 

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Young people and Hate Crime

Young people and Hate Crime

Support for an innovative video-based project promoting the reporting of hate crime experienced by young people.

Talented Bournemouth University graduates have created a series of hard hitting videos telling young people what to do if they want to report hate crime.

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Understanding domestic abuse in our rural communities

Understanding domestic abuse in our rural communities

Working with the National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) to better understand domestic abuse issues in rural areas.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “Domestic abuse can affect anyone – whether they live in the smallest village or the biggest city – but sadly not enough is known nationally about the experiences of those living in rural areas. The National Rural Crime Network is now running the biggest ever survey which gives residents the chance to have their say and influence national policy.

“I would encourage anyone to take part in the survey as it is vital we continue to work hard to find out more about how services can be improved to help people who have been affected by this damaging crime.”

Read the full article >

How the PCC is supporting our Armed Forces Veterans

How the PCC is supporting our Armed Forces Veterans

Exploring the range of work taking place with Veterans - some of it funded by the PCC's office.

My office has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes with charities and other organisations who help veterans, and over the next few months we will be supporting projects I hope will make a genuine difference.

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No quick wins for knife crime

No quick wins for knife crime

PCC blogs on the issue of knife crime and how to respond to it.

Stories about knife crime have become a depressingly frequent fixture in the national media.

It seems like it has become impossible to turn on the national news without hearing about a young life cut tragically short.

Families are ripped apart, friends and communities left devastated, often seemingly over some petty squabble that has escalated beyond all reasonable measure...

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The taboo around suicide

The taboo around suicide

Martyn's blog on suicide - the biggest cause of death among men under 49 - and how we need to break the taboo around the subject

"The majority of people looking at suicide prevention are health professionals, but this expertise needs to be spread much wider. We need to see other organisations, including large private sector employers, getting involved in this issue and helping raise awareness and training."

"We cannot and should not expect everyone to become counsellors or crisis support workers, but a basic understanding of how to spot the symptoms of depression, anxiety and other common mental health problems is a skill more people should develop. Knowledge of what to say to those who may be struggling and how to refer them to services who can help, is another important skill more of us should have."

"Taboos make problems easy to ignore. If we are ever to address the issue of suicide, and make significant reductions in the number of people who take their own lives every year, the single thing we need to do is to lose our fear of talking about it."

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