Upon re-election the Police and Crime Commissioner was mindful of not pledging to ‘cut crime’ in all areas, acknowledging that some crimes are under-reported and having a desire to see more victims confident about coming forward.
This commitment focuses on working with the police and partners to make it easier for victims to tell their story and increase trust and confidence in areas such as domestic abuse, sexual offences and exploitation.
The PCC is aware of the complex issues behind recorded crime data. This includes the reasons behind increases and decreases in crime trends and patterns, the ongoing drive to improve crime recording practices, and the significant funding cuts the police and others have experienced over a number of years.
Both the PCC and Dorset Police continue to encourage reporting of issues traditionally considered to be under reported – such as domestic abuse (DA), hate crime and abuse of older people.
Generally, recorded crime is up, including for DA and serious sexual assaults. This is partly because of better recording but also reflects a genuine increase, mirroring the national trend.
This table provides an overview of recorded crime and incidents for under reported areas:
Domestic abuse crimes
Domestic abuse incidents
Serious Sexual Offences
Dorset Police is inspected on its performance on Crime Data Integrity. The Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services’ (HMICFRS) latest Policing Effectiveness Efficiency and Legitimacy (PEEL) report in September 2019 rated Dorset Police as ‘Good’.
There has been a wide range of PCC and Dorset Police communication campaigns across this term of office to encourage reporting of crime including:
Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) – the Dorset Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Project was funded by the PCC and was featured in the Dorset Echo in February 2019, raising awareness of the issue and supporting children and families to report this crime.
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) – in March 2019 the PCC encouraged people to report this crime, along with tackling modern slavery and trafficking of children, in a Bournemouth Echo article in April 2019, and an item in July 2019 by Wessex FM.
County Lines – Dorset Police have raised awareness on the signs of vulnerable people who may be exploited by drugs gangs, and in a Wessex FM news article the PCC encourages people to report it.
DA and coercive & controlling behaviour – the ‘Cut Your Strings’ campaign, funded by the PCC, saw an increase in reports of coercive and controlling behaviour. The PCC helped publicise a report identifying how to improve reporting of DA in rural areas, which was featured in a PCC blog in July 2019 and has attracted national media attention.
Hate Crime – the PCC supported work by Bournemouth University who produced a video on reporting Hate Crime.
Sexual Assaults – the PCC promoted National Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week in February 2018. In May 2019 the PCC-funded Shores Sexual Assault Referral Centre was featured in a Bournemouth Echo article raising awareness of the facility to encourage people to report sexual assaults.
Abuse of older people – the PCC encouraged monitoring and reporting abuse of older people in a Dorset Echo article in March 2017. Due to the low figures of reporting of Cyber Crime by victims, including older people, Dorset Police’s Cyber Crime Prevention Officer has delivered presentations to groups made up of mainly older people.
Victim Support, commissioned by the PCC, run a number of drop ins around the county to promote their work and encourage uptake of practical and emotional support and reporting of crimes to the police.
This commitment acknowledges the duty placed on the Police and Crime Commissioner to work together with community safety and criminal justice partners in tackling and reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.
The police are not able to reduce and prevent crime in isolation and this commitment recognises the PCC as being in the ideal place to facilitate and coordinate efforts in response to local issues.
It also recognises the PCC role in lobbying and influencing at a regional and national level.
The PCC attends, or is represented at, a number of Dorset Police strategic governance boards, including the monthly Strategic Performance Board, to monitor and maintain oversight of police performance. This includes monitoring the local crime and anti-social behaviour picture and other non-crime demands on the Force.
The Commissioner has been able to challenge the Force on specific areas of concerns, such as firearms licensing or the use of bail, and instigate work to improve service in these areas.
The PCC also attends, or is represented on, the Pan-Dorset Community Safety and Criminal Justice Board (CSCJB), the Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) and the Dorset Criminal Justice Board (DCJB).
These groups allow organisations to work together strategically to tackle issues such as violent crime and domestic abuse.
The Commissioner is able to challenge issues through these partnerships, such as carrying out work to increase local court sessions and availability after this issue was discussed at the DCJB.
The PCC has also been able to contribute to the debate and consultation on the local government review in Dorset. Since the launch of the two new local authorities, he has influenced the arrangements for Dorset’s public sector leaders to make better coordinated responses to the county’s most challenging problems.
Regionally the PCC is engaged with the South West Regional Collaboration Board and the South West Reducing Reoffending Strategy Board, contributing towards more effective joint working on areas such as forensics and armed forces veterans in the criminal justice system.
Nationally, the Commissioner is the PCC lead for the Transforming Forensics programme and chairs the Independent Custody Visitors Association (ICVA). ICVA has recently successfully campaigned for changes to legislation, ensuring female detainees held in police custody are given appropriate sanitary products.
This commitment acknowledges the fluid nature of crime and community safety matters and the need for the police to be flexible and responsive to those challenges.
At the time of re-election the Police and Crime Commissioner was particularly concerned with a potential growth in elder abuse cases. More recently, county lines drug related activity and the criminal exploitation of the vulnerable has come to the fore as a major concern locally and nationally.
While austerity and cuts to police funding have clearly had a significant impact, the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) works closely with the Chief Constable each year to try and maximise available funding, targeting it towards key areas of demand.
Policing prioritisation in recent years has very much focused on threat, risk and harm in order to target resources most effectively.
In terms of the precept and budget decisions during the term of office:
Annual reviews of the Police and Crime Plan ensure our strategic priorities and objectives remain current and reflect any trends in crime or community safety challenges locally.
Our annual reports outline our progress against these priorities throughout the PCC’s term of office.
This commitment was originally set while the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) was the national lead for mental health, a role that he has subsequently stepped down from.
However, the PCC remains passionate about mental health issues and their impact on crime, policing and community safety.
The commitment reflects the desire to continue to work with partners to improve services to victims and keep vulnerable people safe.
The Dorset Crisis Care Concordat is a commitment from all health, emergency services and local authority partners locally to improve the care for people in mental health crisis. By working more closely together, a number of initiatives and improvements have been introduced in recent years.
Specifically, the Dorset Mental Health Forum has run education courses for victims and the availability of such courses has increased during the term of office. The courses help equip vulnerable victims of crime to reduce their risk of further offences being carried out against them.
More generally, the PCC has agreed (in principal) to support a successful Dorset Health University Foundation Trust (DHUFT) bid to Bournemouth University for a Criminal Justice Liaison & Diversion Service (CJLDS) linked PhD study which will explore the scope for expanding the service further. The CJLDS itself has been offered new contract by NHS England until 2022 (with an option to extend further).
The PCC has also concluded the process for re-tendering victim support services in Dorset, with a new three-year contract being awarded to Victim Support, commencing in October 2019. Whilst Victim Support provide support to victims of most crimes, specialist support and referrals can be made for those who are more vulnerable or have specific needs relating to their mental health.
The Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR) is issued by the Home Secretary and focuses on those areas where government has a responsibility for ensuring that sufficient capabilities are in place to respond to serious and cross-boundary threats and supports Chief Constables and Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in balancing local and national priorities.
First issued in 2012, the current version was revised in 2015 and contains the following national threats and key priorities:
• Serious and Organised Crime
• A national cyber security incident
• Threats to public order or public safety
• Civil emergencies
• Child sexual abuse (CSA)
Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables are required to have regard to the SPR in exercising their respective roles.
This commitment is essentially considered ‘business as usual’ and falls within the core PCC function of holding the Chief Constable to account for the delivery of an efficient and effective police service.
Through the existing governance structure, the PCC receives regular updates on policing performance, including Dorset Police capability and contribution towards the national policing priorities, usually by exception.
The PCC is also briefed on how the Force works with partners on a regional and national basis in tackling some of these most serious threats - for example the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU) in tackling organised criminality; Action Fraud in coordinating the response to online and other targeted fraud; and the National Crime Agency (NCA) in responding to CSA and other national threats that also translate to the regional and local.
The Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) has long held concerns over the safety and security of our ports, particularly given the 85 miles of coastline in Dorset and the potential risks relating to small and unmanned ports.
With that in mind, he pledged to continue to lobby Government for improvements to port security locally and nationally, continuing on from similar work undertaken during his first term of office.
The PCC can demonstrate many examples of where he has raised his concerns and sought to influence Government in providing more funding, resources and reassurances over port security.
These include letters to the Home Secretary and other relevant ministers raising general concerns and specific issues relating to Portland; the “Perfect Storm” blog following the detention of individuals at Poole Port; support for the launch of the South West Port Watch Scheme; and writing to the management company of Bournemouth Airport seeking reassurances after some identified security breaches.
In addition, the Dorset Police and Crime Panel have also supported the PCC in writing to the Home Secretary echoing his concerns and the lack of a satisfactory response in addressing them.
For his part at the local level, the PCC has also delivered on his commitment to increase resources within the Dorset Police Marine Unit, allowing for greater resilience and shift coverage.
Over the Police and Crime Commissioner’s second term there have been changes in the partnership work around safeguarding children and adults at risk.
The Local Government Review of councils in Dorset affected the ability to work strategically with partners and the PCC lobbied for better working practices, while supporting Dorset Police to tackle some of the issues.
The PCC has welcomed the new more streamlined approach by the new local councils and health partners to focus on prioritising work to safeguard children and young people in Dorset. Both Dorset Police and the PCC have been keen to highlight the wider vulnerabilities of adults at risk in Dorset, including the threat from county lines drugs gangs.
Arrangements are in place for the PCC to help partners learn lessons from Serious Case Reviews or Safeguarding Adult Reviews, in cases where a child or adult is seriously harmed or dies due to lack of safeguarding.
The PCC has lobbied and worked with partner agencies over the new arrangements for safeguarding children in Dorset. This included meeting the chair of the Dorset Local Safeguarding Children Boards and contacting the leads from the new Dorset Safeguarding Children Partnership to support the new strategic working arrangements.
The PCC has focussed on county lines in which gangs use vulnerable people of all ages to transport drugs across the country, and use vulnerable adults’ homes to deal drugs. The PCC hosted a problem solving forum, using experts from various agencies and charities to find innovative responses to the issue.
The OPCC has been working with the Dorset Community Safety Partnership (CSP), Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole CSP, the Dorset Safeguarding Adults Board and the Dorset Children Safeguarding Partnership to tackle the exploitation of children and adults.
This resulted in the PCC funding a Child Exploitation Transformational Lead to work across Dorset, identifying risk and implementing support for young people.
The PCC’s office has raised concerns that there are many adults, who agencies regularly come into contact with, with different vulnerabilities including drug, alcohol, domestic abuse and mental health needs.
These adults, often with chaotic and unstable lives, do not reach the high thresholds for social care and so do not receive appropriate support. As well as bringing partner agencies and voluntary organisations together to identify potential referral routes, the PCC has worked with Dorset Police on a range of interventions to support and safeguard people including:
Domestic Abuse (DA) – the PCC produced a news article in November 2018 to support the worldwide 16 days of action on DA campaign, highlighted the Cut Your Strings video that had national recognition.
In January 2019 the PCC wrote a blog on the new DA laws and promoted the support available for people affected by DA.
Mental Health – a range of initiatives funded by the PCC during his two terms including the Street Triage Scheme, the introduction of a Mental Health Coordinator for Dorset Police and the production of a Suicide Prevention Plan.
Women offenders – the PCC funded a scheme aiming to stop reoffending among vulnerable women. Led by the Footprints Charity, staff and volunteers will work with women who have committed first time low-level crimes. They will be referred by Dorset Police and will often have substance misuse or mental health issues or have been affected by domestic abuse.
The PCC is also piloting a scheme to introduce return home interviews for adults who have gone missing, similar to what already exists for young people, helping ensure they have appropriate support. This is now due to launch in early 2020.
The PCC provided funding to Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards, supporting their child sexual abuse training and mapping work. The project includes raising awareness of and improving responses to the issue – including providing bespoke training sessions to more than 240 frontline staff on the impact of trauma on victims and families as well as working with data to understand and monitor the scale of the problem across Dorset. It also includes partnering with the NSPCC’s PANTS campaign, featuring Pantosaurus to raise awareness of the issue.
A total of £16.5m was lost to fraud between April 2018 and March 2019 in Dorset alone, while victims lost £2.2bn across the UK. Phishing emails, scam phone calls, and malware are just a few ways people can be targeted online and the threat evolves every day.
While prevention and awareness raising activity is key to reduce the number of people affected by fraud, support for those who fall victim is a key concern for the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The PCC has built on the CyberSafe prevention campaign he funded and launched during his first term. In his second term he funded the Dorset Police Cyber Crime Protection and Prevention Officer in Dorset Police, providing a dedicated resource for advice and guidance to communities.
Using the Cyber-Crime Prevention Toolkit and other tools, this officer has given presentations to businesses and community groups.
Active social media accounts provide regular updates and advice and the Dorset Alert messaging system is used to provide information on the latest scams.
A series of guest blogs on the PCC website have been published to increase awareness, on topics such as Remember to Stay Safe from Fraudsters, How to Stay Safe on Social Media – Part One and Part Two, and How to Avoid the Summer Holiday Scammers. Dorset Police’s Cyber Crime Unit produced an article warning against romance fraud, and this work was highlighted by the Bournemouth Echo.
In 2017 Dorset Police launched the Banking Protocol, a partnership between the police, finance industry and trading standards. It is a fraud prevention scheme to identify and protect potential fraud victims when they visit a bank or building society, by training bank staff to spot when someone is about to fall victim to a scam and try to prevent them withdrawing cash or transferring money to a fraudster, with an immediate police response to the bank.
An internal Fraud Triage Team (FTT) has also been developed, to support investigations and offer guidance and advice to officers attending incidents of fraud.
The Business Crime Strategy developed by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner identifies fraud as a key focus. Businesses have communicated their frustrations to the PCC and Chief Constable on the increased threat from cyber fraud and inconsistencies of safety messages, so this strategy will see Dorset Police work with business leaders to address these concerns.
The PCC is responsible for commissioning victim support services with a new contract awarded in 2019, and also continues to work with the City of London Police and National Fraud Investigation Bureau (NFIB) to improve the national Action Fraud centre, particularly regarding victim care. He has signed up as a SCAMbassador as part of the National Trading Standards Friends Against Scams initiative and receives NFIB Cyber Crime and Fraud Profiles for Dorset which assist in monitoring issues locally and scrutinising the Force response.
More recently, through his Safer Dorset Fund Community Grant Scheme, the Commissioner has supported the Prama Foundation in funding the purchase of 750 ‘Scampaks’ for distribution to vulnerable elderly people to raise their awareness of fraud and assist in protecting them against scams.
Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking have come more to the forefront during the current term of office and the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) added this commitment to ensure sufficient focus was placed on such crimes locally.
The PCC is represented at the Dorset Anti-Slavery Partnership (ASP), which is the main body responsible for tackling modern slavery and human trafficking and links with regional colleagues – particularly the Regional Organised Crime Unit overseeing the policing response across the South West.
In terms of awareness raising, the PCC provided funding toward a successful conference in 2017 organised by the former Borough of Poole council.
The National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network (NATMSN) also offers PCCs the opportunity to bid for small amounts of funding to support local work. The Commissioner has been successful with three bids, including:
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has been engaged with NATMSN in the development of a national PCC Modern Slavery Toolkit which has now been finalised and published, assisting PCC’s in their scrutiny function for this area of policing and community safety. More recently, the Commissioner has also agreed to provide funding towards the running of a national Modern Slavery helpline, delivered by the specialist charity Unseen.
In addition, Dorset Police are actively engaged in specific operations such as Op Aidant, co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) but implemented locally with specific weeks of action. In January/February 2019 this focused on labour exploitation through the agricultural and fisheries industries.
This commitment was originally set while the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) was the national lead for mental health, and he remains passionate about mental health issues and their impact on crime, policing and community safety.
Essentially, this measure was designed to improve and enhance the information, support and guidance available to police officers and staff ‘on the ground’ through scoping the potential development of a mobile device app.
While a specific app for Dorset Police has not been developed, the dedicated Strategic Mental Health Co-ordinator within the Force has overseen the introduction of a dedicated operational support portal, drawing together a range of material, guidance and links in support of frontline officers and staff.
This information is available and accessible remotely via smartphone and tablet devices and so, achieves the original outcome sought by the commissioner, albeit through a different use of technology.
In addition, the Force is also exploring the potential for adopting the existing ‘Backup Buddy’ mental health support app that was originally developed for Sussex and Surrey Police. The Force and PCC will continue to seek best practice in this area.
This commitment was originally set whilst the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) was the national PCC lead for mental health, a role that he has subsequently stepped down form. However, the Commissioner remains passionate about mental health issues and their impact on crime, policing and community safety.
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 contained a wide range of measures, one of which was to “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces, including through closer collaboration with other emergency services.” As a result the PCC was keen to ensure that existing collaboration arrangements were developed further and were also mindful of improving joined up in responses to those suffering from mental ill health.
The Dorset Crisis Care Concordat is a commitment from all health, emergency services and local authority partners locally to improve the care for people in mental health crisis. By working more closely together, a number of initiatives and improvements have been introduced in recent years.
Such services include Street Triage, where police officers have access to trained mental health practitioners to support and advise them when encountering individuals with poor mental health.
Similarly, the Criminal Justice Liaison & Diversion Scheme assesses individuals detained in police custody and refers them onto specialist services where mental health or other issues are present.
Dorset Police have also employed a dedicated Mental Health Strategic Coordinator; supported by dedicated Mental Health Single Points of Contact (SPOCs) across the Force, to ensure that officers and staff receive the training, guidance and information that they need, along with engaging with partners to develop and enhance joint working arrangements.
The Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) identified this commitment as a priority area during the term of office. This was in recognition of the significant number of veterans in Dorset and their vulnerability due to their disproportionality in the criminal justice system. Other significant issues that they experience in transitioning to civilian life also include mental health, addiction, homelessness, training and lack of employment opportunities.
Ideas generated from the Homelessness Problem Solving Forum were also identified as suitable for exploring with the homeless veterans cohort in mind.
A number of strands have been pursued under this commitment and particularly highlight the effectiveness and ability of the Police & Crime Commissioner/Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) to act as a facilitator and instigator in pulling together a number of partners with shared aims to work together more effectively and efficiently.
The OPCC has worked across several areas that directly affect veterans, including accommodation, training and funding.
Initial ideas around the provision of accommodation were centred on containerised living units/pods. This option was researched but not considered viable due to costs and other practicalities. Instead, the OPCC has worked with accommodation providers, the YMCA and Pivotal Housing to establish a pathway for initial and move-on accommodation, with support, for homeless veterans in the Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole (BCP) council area. It also includes support and training from a wide range of agencies, including Above and Beyond. The pathway went live in June 2019 and will run for an initial 12 months and all aspects of the scheme will be reviewed in October 2019.
The PCC, through the Armed Forces’ Covenant, supported a very successful Armed Forces Career and Lifestyle event which led to the identification of a training company called Best Training who are able to deliver specific training for veterans, including IT skills and CV writing.
The PCC has lobbied hard for a Veterans Prison Wing (the Collingwood Wing) at Portland Prison to enable veterans to be placed together and allow for peer mentoring and specific support to be delivered whilst in prison. The Ministry of Justice have endorsed a Veterans’ Community approach, work continues with partners to deliver this scheme.
Following a recent relaxation in the rules regarding Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL), the OPCC is also working with local prison governors and employers to identify opportunities to assist with the reintegration of offenders into the community to enhance their skills and broaden their experience and ultimately increase their chances of securing and maintaining employment after release. An exciting ROTL opportunity has been developed with HeliOperations at Portland for veterans.
The OPCC has issued a number of community grants to local veterans support services, including funding for gym equipment at the Weymouth Hub, a garden renovation at Alabare veterans housing project, and contributing towards the relaunch of the Jailhouse Café initiative. The OPCC has also funded Above and Beyond to help them support the BCP homeless project.
The OPCC continues be to an active contributor to the Dorset Armed Forces Covenant Board, which provides oversight and direction to a number of key priority areas concerning veterans locally.
At the request of the Commissioner, veterans have also been included as one of the four key priorities for the newly convened South West Regional Reducing Reoffending Board. This will provide us with the opportunity to share learning and good practice from our work within Dorset, and also to work with regional colleagues to find longer term solutions to shared challenges presented by our veterans communities.
After attending a meeting of the Poole Forum in 2018, the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) agreed to explore the idea of scoping and potentially funding a Hate Crime conference. The purpose would be to increase awareness of hate crime issues locally, including those experienced by people with learning difficulties.
Hate crime is widely recognised as an issue that is currently under-reported to the police and other relevant agencies.
This has evolved from the original idea with scoping identifying challenges around the practicalities of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner being able to organise such an event itself. However, the opportunity arose for the Commissioner to partner with Prejudice Free Dorset - an organisation that promotes inclusive communities - in hosting such an event, at which the Dorset Hate Crime Charter would be launched.
The PCC agreed to provide funding and support for the ‘No Place for Hate’ conference which was held on 15 October 2019, organised by Prejudice Free Dorset.
The event was a great success with over 400 attendees invited to listen to an array of informed and experienced guest speakers. The conference was used to formally launch the Dorset Hate Crime Charter.
The Charter sets out co-signatories commitment to work together to tackle hate crime, by setting common goals and standards, which aim to provide a consistent approach.
Signatories want to ensure that the impact of hate crime is fully understood so that they can in turn encourage people to report incidents either as victims or witnesses. The Charter also sets out ways of sharing best practice across the local community.
In response to national and local concerns over the recent increase in knife-related crime, and 2016 survey information regarding young people’s fear of knife crime in Dorset, the Police and Crime Commissioner is keen to explore proactive preventative initiatives to stop any escalation locally.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner had been liaising with Dorset Police and other partners to better understand the knife crime picture locally and to inform appropriate responses. Whilst incidences of recorded knife crime locally have been increasing it is important to recognise that they still remain relatively low and only a small percentage of incidents relate to an actual knife being used to cause injury.
Where injury has occurred, half of these cases relate to self-harm and a quarter to incidents within a private space eg domestic abuse related. However, it is likely that knife crimes relating to County Lines are more prevalent than are being reported, primarily due to a reluctance in victims coming forward given the criminal nature of the activity that they are involved in.
Drug use and/or mental health issues also tend to be a common theme among both knife crime victims and suspects.
Research shows that the 13-17 year old, 18-25 year old and taxi driver groups are over-represented as victims of knife crime - albeit they are still in low volumes overall.
Similarly, the 13-17 and 18-25 age groups are over-represented within the suspect cohort – in terms of possession, use of knives to threaten, and use to cause injury. The greater risk of harm relates to the 18-25 group due to the prevalence of drugs activity.
There are also a handful of ‘hotspot’ locations within the County which show a higher proportion of knife crime.
Supported by funding from the Commissioner, the Safe Schools & Communities Team (SSCT) has long delivered education and interventions to a range of school-age children and young people, including their Gaining Respect in People road shows for year seven students that cover diversity, weapons, preventing gang culture and Anti-Social Behaviour. More recently, in line with the local Problem Profile, SSCT intends to take a targeted approach to knife crime education, focusing on areas of high reported levels of knife crime/weapons incidents and social deprivation.
The PCC also provides funding and support to Safewise, the interactive and practical ‘skills for life’ facility available in Bournemouth and Weymouth. Crime prevention and citizenship are two elements of the wider work undertaken by Safewise and the Commissioner is currently exploring with them the option to deliver some additional bespoke knife crime inputs to local young people.
With the extensive work that has been undertaken to understand the situation locally, and associated discussions with partners and key stakeholders, it has become clear that the focus of future work should be on the broader issue of serious violence, rather than just being limited to knife crime per se. This also links in with other key PCC commitments, such as vulnerability and youth diversion – and particularly in tackling the threat, risk and harm posed by County Lines drug-related activity.
The need to commission more specific work to address this will therefore be taken forward into the next PCC term of office.
It is a statutory requirement for Return Home Interviews (RHI) to take place with children and young people who go missing in order to try and understand the context and reasons behind the event and also help identify and reduce vulnerability, to try and prevent a reoccurrence.
The Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) is keen to replicate this for adults who go missing, linking in with wider mental health and suicide prevention work locally. This initiative links both with other commitments around County Lines and establishing a multi-agency vulnerability directorate.
Currently Dorset Police receive approximately 200 reports a month of missing adults.
Dorset Police report that in the year from 1 February 2017 to 31 January 2018 there were 1509 adults who went missing, of these 224 were repeat missing adults ranging from two incidents to 13 incidents. In comparison in Dorset from 1 February 2017 to 31 January 2018 there were 1,006 children who went missing, of these 321 were repeat missing children ranging from two incidents to 105 incidents.
In September 2019 Dorset Police reviewed records of suicides to establish how many had previously been reported missing, it was highlighted that 21 of 86 had a history of going missing, of these:
• Twelve people had one reported episode of missing prior to their suicide - however two of these had occurrred 10 years previously.
• Three people had two reported episodes of missing prior to their suicide
• Six people had three or more reported episodes of missing prior to their suicide.
The OPCC has liaised extensively with Dorset Police and other partners to establish the most appropriate way to pilot a scheme for adults. Given the levels of demand placed upon the Force by responding to Missing Persons cases, and the persistence of the Commissioner in arguing the case for an enhanced response to people who go missing, Dorset Police have made a successful case to the Innovation Fund for the creation of a Missing Persons Co-ordinator post.
Part of this role involves the oversight and development of a return home interview initiative although it is recognised that the Co-ordinator will not have the capacity to conduct the interviews themselves. As a result, the Commissioner has agreed funding for one year to support the recruitment of two Return Home Interview Caseworkers and associated administrative support to help establish this much needed service.
The Adult Return Home Interview Service (RHIS) will contact adults who have who have been located or have returned having been reported as missing, to arrange and conduct an in-depth interview – providing they have been identified as appropriate following the triage/risk assessment process – to:
It is anticipated that the service will launch in early 2020.
Understanding the impact of austerity on prevention and diversion activity, amplified more recently by growing concerns over local youth anti social behaviour, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is seeking to explore ways to expand youth diversion activities across the county.
The PCC has supported a range of initiatives throughout this term of office.
The Commissioner has supported the AFC Bournemouth ‘Own Goal’ programme, working with children and young people on the fringes of, or at risk of entering, the criminal justice system and is currently exploring broadening the project out more widely across the County.
The OPCC has been instrumental in establishing a Police Cadets Scheme for Dorset. The scheme was successfully launched in June 2019 and due to levels of demand will be expanding further later in the year.
In response to an increase in youth anti social behaviourin and around Poole bus station and the Dolphin Shopping Centre, a group was created to explore the issues that lay behind the increase and try and find some intervention strategies to help address the problem.
The PCC agreed to back both the ‘Pop-Up Youth Clubs’ and partnership Youth Justice Co-ordinator initiatives and work is ongoing to deliver these projects. The Pop-up Youth Club project started in June with sessions being held weekly and BCP and Dorset Police are now exploring the potential of a Winter Youth Club scheme in the area.
To increase training and diversionary activities on offer to first time entrants to the criminal justice system, three groups have submitted successful bids to work in partnership with the Dorset Combined Youth Offending Service (YOS) to ensure appropriate referrals are made to the projects.
Action for Children, AIM Community (Frontier Youth Trust) and Best Training will all be providing diversionary programmes to help mentor and train those who are in the YOS system. These programmes are due to begin the late Autumn of 2019.
Following an unsuccessful bid to the Government’s Youth Endowment Fund in 2019, the Commissioner continues to explore the scope for directly commissioning services locally with a focus on early intervention, prevention and diversion in addressing serious violent crime concerns. This work is being carried forward in conjunction with the YOS and Safe Schools and Communities Team (SSCT).
The national Volunteer Police Cadet (VPC) Scheme aims to encourage good citizenship in young people by providing them with an opportunity to engage with local policing priorities and support the communities in which they live.
Young people from all backgrounds are encouraged to join, including those who may be most vulnerable to the influences of crime and social exclusion. For this reason, VPC schemes can provide Forces with an opportunity to provide key crime prevention advice to young people, as well as the potential to positively influence behaviour. Dorset Police was the only remaining Force in England and Wales without a cadet scheme.
The Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Chief Constable for Dorset were committed to introducing a VPC Scheme within Dorset, having been impressed with the results from other areas. This was supported by the principal of Bourne Academy, who had identified a growing interest among pupils, parents and other residents of the local area.
Starting in autumn 2018, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) set about introducing the county’s first unit, with the assistance of the national VPC team and in close liaison with staff at Bourne Academy.
The OPCC successfully secured start-up funds from the national team, agreed use of an exceptional venue and recruited adult volunteers to lead the unit. It was intended to launch the scheme with a unit of around 30 young people, however twice that number applied within the first few weeks. Consequently, a decision was taken to immediately implement a second unit.
The OPCC, ably assisted by the adult volunteers, ran induction sessions during the early summer of this year and a number of the cadets attended the Force’s Family Fun Day in July 2019. The early feedback from the cadets, as well as their parents and guardians, has been universally positive. The units were formally launched in September 2019, and the OPCC has now handed the scheme to the Force so that it can become part of business as usual.
The intention is that, in the months ahead, the Force will identify further locations for new units.
At the start of his term the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) had identified the changing nature of crime in recent years, including cyber-crime and child sexual abuse, continuing to increase and placing significant demand on policing.
Specialist teams and capability are needed to investigate such offences. Having facilitated the creation of the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) during his first term of office, the Commissioner pledged to increase the size of the POLIT to help meet the huge increase in demand for Dorset Police.
The POLIT sits within the Child Abuse Investigation Team and works as the Force’s specialist response to subjects who view and/or distribute indecent images of children, or who groom, incite and/or facilitate sexual activity with children through use of the internet.
POLIT officers proactively seek out offenders whilst also having responsibility for reactive referrals from the community, National Crime Agency (NCA) and other law enforcement agencies throughout the world. Their work also contains referrals from companies such as KIK, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter regarding users sharing IIOC, alongside national operations targeting known nominals and organised crime groups.
The PCC highlighted this as one of eight commitments to have been delivered within the first 100 days of his term of office and three additional officers had joined the POLIT by September 2016.
The Safe Schools & Communities Team (SSCT) is a well-established partnership between Dorset Police and the Dorset Combined Youth Offending Service, with a remit to prevent and reduce anti-social behaviour, crime and wrong-doing among children and young people, and help keep them safe in a digital world.
There are three main strands to the work of the SSCT, which can be summarised as follows:
Community safety education – in areas including online safety, drugs and alcohol, anti-social behaviour, child sexual exploitation, preventing gang culture, preventing violent extremism, domestic abuse and weapons.
Intervention service – working with schools to effectively manage and respond to school incidents and online safety incidents, including bullying and low-level assaults, personal safety, anti-social behaviour, low-level school thefts and criminal damage, behavioural issues and inappropriate use of language.
Youth Out of Court Disposals – the SSCT lead on the management of youth restorative disposals, youth cautions and youth conditional cautions. Officers also lead on Restorative Justice conferences dealing with bullying, shoplifting, possession of drugs and retail and drugs workshops.
The PCC committed to increase the strength of the SSCT by one post, with the focus being on working with schools and youth organisations to better inform our next generation of the dangers of sexting, online bullying and online abuse.
This commitment was one of eight which were realised within the first 100 days of the Commissioner’s term of office.
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has long been a champion of mental health related issues within the police and community safety environment, including a spell as the national PCC lead for mental health.
One long-standing concern has been the use of police custody as a ‘place of safety’ for individuals experiencing mental ill health crisis – often referred to as S136, the section of Mental Health Act that applies.
While the police are often the first to respond to individuals facing such crisis, it is essential that those vulnerable through mental ill health receive the appropriate care in the correct environment rather than being detained in a police cell. The PCC therefore pledged to lobby for an end to the use of police custody as a place of safety.
The Street Triage service launched by the PCC in 2014 continues to work effectively, providing police officers with access to support and advice from mental health practitioners, and resulting in significant reductions in the use of S136 locally.
Work with partners has also enhanced the levels of training delivered to police officers in responding to incidents where mental ill health is a factor. This work has seen significant reductions in the use of police custody suites for S136 incidents – used on just 10 occasions in 2015/16, reducing to four occasions in 2018/19.
In 2017, the PCC responded to the NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) public consultation on new proposals laid out in the Mental Health Acute Care Pathway review, supporting plans for additional inpatient beds and the creation of new retreats and ‘community front room’ services.
Ensuring adequate provision and appropriate care is vital to meeting the needs of the individual at risk and reducing the amount of police officer time spent managing cases rather than trained mental health professionals. These proposals have since been implemented.
Ongoing lobbying for legislation change, of which the PCC has been a vocal advocate, saw the announcement made in 2018 that it would no longer be lawful for a police station to be used as a place of safety for a person under 18 years of age experiencing mental ill health.
As a supporter of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act carried out in 2018, the PCC awaits the full Government response to the recommendations put forward relating to care for detained individuals in the proposed Mental Health Bill.
As the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ (APCC) lead on Mental Health, from 2016 to 2017, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) lobbied for more work to reduce the risks of suicide and was an active member of the National Crisis Care Concordat (CCC) Steering Group.
In March 2017 the PCC, through the Mental Health Coordinator post he had funded, participated in a multi-agency event to review the CCC in Dorset and to implement work on the Pan Dorset Suicide Prevention Strategy to meet the local and national requirement to produce a plan with agreed priorities and actions. The delivery of the Dorset CCC was via the Acute Care Pathway by Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Dorset NHS Trust, Local Authorities, Police, OPCC, Dorset MH Forum.
The Pan Dorset Multi Agency Suicide Prevention Strategy is overseen by the CCG.
The PCC lobbied and input to the consultation by Dorset CCG and this resulted in the following provisions:
Dorset Police and the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) have a Mental Health Strategy and Delivery Plan based on the recent national report produced by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
The purpose of the plan is to ensure that Dorset Police has procedures and processes in place to support and reduce risks for people they come into contact, who have mental health needs. The plan is reviewed and monitored quarterly by Dorset Police.
Some of the key actions in the plan are centred on training, recording data, ensuring current schemes are fit for purpose and working together with our colleagues nationally.
All police officers and staff are trained on mental health issues; this was introduced force wide in September 2019. The process for recording mental health data has also been revised and updated and Dorset Police have improved their compliance rate.
The plan ensures that there are timely reviews of the current Custody Liaison & Diversion Scheme and the Street Triage Scheme and there is a national ‘day of action’ where all forces collate their activity in dealing with mental health incidents.
The PCC has identified that policing alone cannot protect vulnerable people and an approach has to be made in partnership, potentially with partners pooling resources, budgets and staff to protect those most at risk.
A vulnerable person’s directorate, covering children and adults, remains a long-term aspiration and is something the PCC pledged to work towards during this term of office.
This chimes with the ambition of the Chief Constable and PCC for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire & Rescue (HMICFRS) to class Dorset Police as ‘outstanding’ in their support of vulnerable people.
While it was always anticipated that creating an all age vulnerability hub by the end of the PCC’s term would be unlikely, much work has been done to progress the local response to those at risk or vulnerable to harm. This activity has been at both the strategic and operational level and includes:
Pan-Dorset strategy – The Local Safeguarding Children Board for Dorset is working on a Pan-Dorset partnership strategy for protecting children and young people at risk of harm and exploitation. The PCC will continue to influence and lobby for this to be developed further into an ‘all-age’ approach.
Place-based approach to shared priorities – The PCC has written to the Dorset Public Services Forum requesting they adopt a unified, area based approach, which would see partnerships, resources and funding used as most appropriate to each area’s needs. Agencies would also better collaborate and share data. Currently, there is a lack of common understanding of the communities’ needs, with each agency spending too much time managing the same people, many of whom are vulnerable and have complex needs.
Criminal exploitation of the vulnerable – Much attention has been devoted to county lines drug networks and their exploitation of young people and vulnerable adults. The PCC helped fund Operation Galaxy in Bournemouth, targeting premises involved in criminal and anti social behaviour, and safeguarding vulnerable individuals whose properties have been taken over by drug dealers, in so-called ‘cuckooing’. The PCC also held a county lines problem solving forum and as a result funded a pan-Dorset child exploitation transformation lead post – now recruited by Dorset Council – to co-ordinate responses, including working with adult safeguarding leads as vulnerable young people reach adulthood.
Appropriate adult provision – With police and local authority colleagues, the OPCC has undertaken a review of the current Appropriate Adult (AA) provision for Dorset. Appropriate Adults are responsible people aged over 18 who must be called by police to be present when officers detain or interview a child or vulnerable adult. The review follows concerns over the availability and quality of AAs, particularly out of hours. The initial report and recommendations have broadly been accepted and include a proposal to pilot a short-term alternative model for the young people’s AA service. Ultimately, if the pilot proves successful, the PCC would like to explore with partners the scope for commissioning a pan-Dorset, pan-age service in the longer term.
PCC funding – The PCC has provided funding and support to a number of schemes addressing vulnerable communities. These include a Bournemouth street sex worker case manager, advisors to help victims of crime with learning disabilities navigate the criminal justice system, the drug and alcohol intervention programme led by Public Health Dorset, the Maple Project support for high risk victims of domestic abuse, as well as The Shores sexual assault referral centre and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors. Funding has also been agreed for a pilot project by The Horse Course to work with vulnerable individuals, including those regularly reported missing and victims of cuckooing.
Community grants – The Commissioner has also provided a number of smaller community grants to support local projects working in areas including homelessness, mental health, learning disabilities, abuse, drug and alcohol education, stalking, LGBT and vulnerable children and young people.