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.
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?
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
County lines is a national issue that affects forces across England and Wales, including our own. The term ‘county lines’ refers to gangs in major cities supplying drugs to other parts of the UK, usually using dedicated phone lines to facilitate it.
The gangs target and exploit some of the most vulnerable in our communities: those who are young; those who are suffering from poor mental health or addiction; those who have already suffered some form of abuse in the past.
It can have a devastating impact on the victims. Those who are coerced into helping the gangs move drugs around the country might be subjected to extreme violence or blackmail.
They may feel that they have lost control of their lives and their homes. Gangs will sometimes move into a victim’s home to use it as a local base for dealing drugs. This is known as cuckooing. County lines ruins lives...
Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill has issued a rallying call to the nation to “stand up and be counted” as part of a powerful anti-hate campaign.
The Commissioner, alongside fellow PCCs, Chief Constables and a wide range of partners, called on members of the public to condemn the scourge that is hate crime by taking part in a nationwide social media campaign...
Following his meeting with a group of people with learning disabilities, the PCC writes about tackling the unreported issue of disability hate crime.
Martyn Underhill writes about how, while everyone in the group said they had experienced disability hate crime, only one person had reported their experience to the police.
The PCC writes about public misconceptions of domestic abuse - and the psychological harm caused by coercive and controlling behaviour.
Martyn underhill writes: "Abusers manipulate their victims psychologically, sometimes making serious threats, such as saying that they will kill themselves if their partner ever leaves.
"The abuse can go on for years, with victim being ground down emotionally – their torment invisible to the outside world..."
The PCC welcomes proposed new laws which he says will help the police and other agencies tackle the impact of domestic abuse more successfully.
Martyn Underhill writes: "Three years ago I met with one of our MPs, along with three domestic abuse victims from our county who had suffered at the hands of their ex partners. They all reported the same issue to the MP - their ex partners, many of whom had injunctions against them, cross examined them in the family courts during divorce or access hearings.
"Now, the government’s new Domestic Abuse Bill promises to deal with one of the key issues facing victims by banning this practice..."
The PCC supports a campaign and a series of events held in Bournemouth to raise awareness about how sexual abuse and violence is not OK.
Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “Statistics showing that 80 per cent of sexual assaults were not reported to the police are deeply troubling, and show we sadly still have a very long way to go when it comes to talking openly about these offences.
“Nobody should ever feel like they have to tolerate any form of sexual assault or be afraid to come forward and report it. I would urge anyone who may be suffering in silence or who is concerned about a friend to come to this event and find out more about the support that is available.”
The PCC granted a significant extension of funding to a project tackling child sexual abuse across the county.
The additional funding will pay for work including bespoke training sessions for a multi-agency workforce on areas such as understanding the impact of trauma on victims and families.
It will also fund an NSPCC Pantosaurus campaign to be run in local schools and community events, helping parents and carers to talk to young children about the dangers posed by sexual abuse.
The PCC supports the county's first careers fair aimed specifically at those leaving the Armed Forces, as well as veterans and the families of military personnel.
Martyn Underhill said: “Veterans leave the services with an impressive wealth of skills and knowledge, and this event is a fantastic way of enabling employers to tap into that valuable resource – while also helping former Armed Forces personnel make the most out of their new civilian lives.
“The Armed Forces Community plays an incredibly important role in all areas of life across Dorset, and I’m proud to be supporting this project, which will provide a huge benefit to veterans, their families, as well as to the business community and to the county’s wider economy.”
Martyn Underhill writes about some of the work funded by the OPCC to tackle the problem of child sexual abuse.
The PCC writes: "Often, perpetrators are so manipulative that their victims do not speak up until adulthood – and those long years of living in silence lead to depression, failed relationships and suicidal thoughts.
"The shockwaves caused by abuse do not just effect the individual survivors. Their loved ones, spouses, and children can all go on to become damaged. Entire families can be ripped apart.
"Although clearly, those responsible for this destructive crime need to face justice, child sexual abuse is a problem that’s far bigger than just policing. We need to be able to provide support to victims when they come forward, we need to understand the extent of the problem and to educate people about it – particularly those who may be able to spot the signs..."
A project which has received funding from the PCC is helping rebuild families by getting them to spend time together in the countryside.
Longmead Community Farm works with families who are in crisis, such as those whose children are at risk of being taken into care or not completing their schooling.
Families spend 24 hours on the farm, near Bere Regis, and work together on activities from mucking out stables and looking after animals to picking vegetables which they then use to make their own meals.
Martyn Underhill said: “We need to find innovative approaches to help people in crisis. The psychological benefits of spending time in the countryside are well known and Longmead does an excellent job of helping families tap into these benefits before more serious problems occur.”
As part of a series of guest blogs, Andy Price, co-founder of Weymouth Veterans Hub, writes about how his organisation - which has been supported by the PCC - is helping former Armed Forces personnel.
Andy writes: "Our organisation is a community project that was set up as a part time venture in late 2017 with the intention of providing a safe and secure location for veterans and their families.
"The Veterans Hub, on Portland Road in Wyke Regis, enables them to come together and socialise in a non-clinical setting in order to provide peer-to-peer support.
"Despite Dorset having one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the UK there is, sadly, a distinct lack of veteran orientated support services in the county, especially regarding the mental and physical health side of things..."
As part of a series of guest blogs outlining work being done to help the county's veterans, Sally Cadet, Dorset branch chair of SSAFA, writes about how her organisation supports former military personnel.
Sally Cadec writes: "Across Dorset, caseworkers will work tirelessly with veterans, often for many months to help with whatever difficult or intractable problems they might face.
"SSAFA volunteers are also increasingly dealing with veterans who are encountering mental health problems related to their time serving in conflicts overseas.
"Homelessness is also an issue for many veterans within Dorset. The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the YMCA, Pivotal Housing and SSAFA are considering further ways to alleviate this..."