The Commissioner and Chief Constable for Dorset Police wrote to the Home Office in January 2017 to formally express their disappointment with the funding settlement provided to the PCC.
The provisional grant report for 2017-18 represents a cash reduction in funding for Dorset Police.
The implication of this decision is that the Commissioner is expected to increase the local precept by the maximum available simply to maintain funding at flat cash levels compared to 2015/16. This reduces the local control he has while still resulting in a real terms reduction in resources once inflationary factors are accounted for.
A significant part of our approach is working in a Strategic Alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police to maximise opportunities for improved service delivery and increased efficiencies but the settlement presents continuing challenges.
The Commissioner has previously backed reports calling for fairer funding for rural forces.
The Dorset Police website has recently been relaunched with a new, sleeker design to help users find information easier.
It is vitally important that Dorset Police continues to be an accessible, open and responsive force.
Dozens of menu options and unnecessary graphics have been removed to make the site simpler to use and it has now been optimised for smartphones and tablets so it is just as seamless when users are on-the-go as it is when being used on a desktop computer.
A key new feature of the website is the “Do it Online” section. You can now go online to report a crime, request a call back, message an employee, make a complaint, make a general enquiry, provide feedback, make a freedom of information request and email Dorset Police.
The 101 Improvement Panel was launched to review the service, identify ways to enhance processes and help make Dorset Police a ‘listening and learning’ organisation.
The independent Panel looks closely at a random selection of calls which have come into the 101 non-emergency number.They discuss whether the calls have been dealt with by the call handlers in a timely and appropriate manner. Feedback and suggestions for improvements are then passed onto the Force.
The panel is chaired by Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner, Colin Pipe, and panel members include councillors, voluntary groups and members of the public. The panel sits in rotation to ensure a wide selection of opinions are gathered to best inform the Force as to what improvements can be made.
The Panel also scrutinises the ways in which the Force encourage the public to contact them regarding non-emergency situations. With the re-launch of the Dorset Police website, the public are urged to use the “Do it Online” forms which are an alternative to using the 101 phone number.
By guiding reporting to other channels, 101 call handlers will be able to deal with calls in a quicker, more efficient way.
Sadly, we have seen three terrorist attacks in quick succession in the UK. Our thoughts go out to the innocent victims and to the brave first responders who lost their lives or were injured.
We need to try to better understand how we, as a society, can dilute the radical hate and come together as one. This is an important time, with the prize of any democracy, a general election, happening this week. Nothing or nobody must ever be allowed to deter, prevent or frustrate the inherent right of every UK citizen to vote in our free elections.
This is a complicated landscape and once the election is complete, we must address the factors that are feeding recurring terrorist attacks.
Firstly, we face greater online radicalisation, and I support the drive to hold social media companies to account for policing this.
Secondly, there appears to be a clear increase in home grown radicalisation. Police and security services cannot be everywhere all the time. The more people that become radicalised, the increased likelihood that terrorist incidents will occur.
The third challenge is that attackers can quickly change their modus operandi at will. Security services, policing and society must not only keep up but stay ahead of the curve. That is why the Chief Constable and I are examining the option and cost of offering Taser to every police officer who requests one and who successfully passes the training.
Finally, a thorough review must be undertaken to establish whether the current counter-terrorism strategy is working.
Meanwhile, it is an undeniable fact that resourcing across the totality of policing has changed and reduced. During the last decade, the citizen to police officer ratio has increased by 23%, rising from 381 citizens per officer in 2006 to 461 in 2016. This is due to both an increase in the overall population of 7% and a decrease in police officer numbers by 12%. Coupled with this has been a loss of a third of the PCSO establishment.
These numbers are eye watering – 70,000 policing posts lost in a decade, at a time of increased demand and the now omnipresent terror threat.
Irrespective of who takes power, the need to re-invest in the totality of policing, not just in counter terrorism or urban conurbations, has never been a higher priority.
With current resourcing levels, most rural forces across the UK would struggle to respond as quickly and as fully as the Metropolitan Police did on Saturday night. Policing needs more money and more resources in order to build a safer and more secure future.
I would urge people to remain vigilant. If you have concerns about radicalisation, report this to the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 or 999 in an emergency.
A report has been commissioned to inform the PCC and Dorset Police about what energy efficiencies can be made across the Force every year and to improve their carbon footprint.
Dorset Police has a responsibility to minimise the impact they have on the environment which they take very seriously. They work hard to balance the needs of the environment with operational obligations and available resources.
This report was commissioned in line with the 8 pledges that the Commissioner committed to achieving within his first 100 days in office.
This builds upon the good work which was started in July 2015, when Blandford Police station became powered by solar panels. The solar panels on Blandford Police Station save around £1,500 per year in electricity costs. We await the findings of the full report to guide future efforts to achieve further energy efficiencies.
A targeted rollout of body worn cameras for Authorised Firearms Officers across the alliance will begin from 15 May 2017.
BWV is an audio and video recording device. The Commissioner pledged to introduce BWV to Dorset and provided funding for a large-scale trial involved 100 plus cameras at Bridport, Weymouth and Bournemouth from the summer of 2016.
While this roll out is limited to firearms officers, the cameras will also be used for general policing duties, which will increase the number of incidents and encounters where they can be deployed.
The Commissioner's goal is to eventually see cameras rolled out to all operational frontline officers.
The Commissioner is a strong proponent of BWV as a tool to increase the evidence gathering ability of the police, especially in domestic abuse and public order scenarios. They provide an unbiased record of what an officer has experienced, making the police more transparent and officers’ actions more accountable.
He has long argued that cameras can help diffuse difficult situations as people behave differently when told they are being filmed, as well as proving extremely useful in court to assist officers who have been assaulted and in cases of complaints against police.
Public surveys undertaken by OPCC have shown consistent support from the public in introducing this tactic to the policing of Dorset. Find out more on page 2 of the Your Dorset. Your Police. Your View survey report.
Dorset's Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) has been recognised for its openness and transparency, and received an award.
CoPaCC - the independent body that monitors police governance - presented the office with an OPCC Transparency Quality Mark, meaning it hits a high standard in having accessible information for the public.
Transparency is an essential part of the democratic process. For the public to be able gauge how successful their PCC is in delivering their electoral mandate, they need access to information that is accessible, easy to understand and fit for purpose.
Dorset was one of 25 OPCCs nationwide to pick up the quality mark. Find out more here >
A combination of factors has led Police & Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill to take a step back from his national commitments
This includes Deputy PCC Colin Pipe's decision, after much consideration, to retire from the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner due to ill health.
The OPCC is not seeking a replacement deputy commissioner at this time. Rather, the PCC has opted to reduce the number of national portfolio areas that he is engaged with in order to spend more time focusing on local issues.
On 19 December 2017, the Policing Minister announced the proposed level of core funding that will be made available to policing in 2018/19, leaving forces nationally in a difficult position.
With police budgets having to absorb unprecedented demand, growing inflation levels and the cost of Government awarding a police pay rise without providing any additional funding, the proposed flat cash settlement means that PCCs face a central Government funding reduction in real terms.
PCC Martyn Underhill said: “As we look ahead, Dorset Police expects to have to make further substantial savings, while the genuine rise in crime being seen nationally shows no signs of abating. We have already had to make a number of incredibly tough decisions and this settlement does us all a disservice.”
To compensate for this, the Government has given PCCs additional flexibility to be able to raise their local policing precept by £12 a year. This would generate around £3.4m of additional funding in Dorset.
The Commissioner continued: “It cannot be right that the Government keeps asking my constituents, the taxpayers of Dorset, to pay more for policing every year. My dilemma is that if I do not consider a precept rise, Dorset Police will struggle to keep up with demand and to deliver an acceptable service.
“The Government has forced the hand of all PCCs, but the police funding formula places rural forces like Dorset at a distinct disadvantage. Many forces receive around three quarters of their overall funding from central Government while Dorset receives roughly half.
“Like other PCCs, I therefore have no choice but to ask whether residents are prepared to plug the hole left by the core funding settlement in order to protect frontline policing. While I welcome the ability to provide more funding for an overstretched police service, I am taking this matter to public consultation with a heavy heart.”
Throughout this year’s consultation, the Commissioner will be asking whether residents are prepared to pay an additional £1 per month to support policing in Dorset. Visit www.dorsetpoliceprecept.com to have your say.
How does the PCC scrutinise the police – and why?
When people ask the question 'what does a Police and Crime Commissioner actually do' one of the most common responses my colleagues and I often give is we're there to hold the police to account.
What does that actually mean? It's a good question, and an important one.
There are very good reasons why the police need to be scrutinised by an independent organisation.
Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill has visited Tolvaddon in Cornwall to see how a new integrated approach to CCTV is being taken.
Across the County, an alliance between local towns, the fire service, Cornwall Council and the Office of the Devon & Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner is finding solutions.
The Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner said: “One of the main reasons I have come here is because of the fire involvement in this project.
“Dorset is quite similar to Cornwall in its make-up and I see a synergy between both. We do have a CCTV project in Dorset but fire are not involved and as PCC I want to try and bring the whole of Dorset into one CCTV system.
“It’s all about public safety and getting the best use out of our resources.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon & Cornwall, Alison Hernandez said: “Safe, resilient and connected communities are the focus of the Police and Crime Plan and CCTV in our communities plays a fundamental part of that journey,”
“We are in an alliance with Dorset and we are trying to show off the excellent work being carried out in Cornwall to see how we can help them achieve similar aims as we have here.”
The audit of the annual accounts for 2017/18 has concluded and final accounts published.
The accounts also include the 2017/18 Annual Governance Statement.
New network launched on International Women’s Day.
I'm proud that Dorset Police is launching its new Women's Network today - on International Women's Day.
The new group is being called WIN - Women Inspire and Network - and is being set up to represent all women within the Force.
It aims to champion gender and equality within both policing and society as well as to provide a voice challenging practices and proposals in the Force.
Dorset’s Police and Crime Panel has confirmed that current Chief Constable James Vaughan will continue the job in a permanent capacity.
James Vaughan, who was awarded a Queen’s Police Medal in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list, was appointed to the role at a Confirmation Hearing by the panel at County Hall in Dorchester on Thursday 7 February.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill, who interviewed Mr Vaughan for the role and proposed him to the panel, said: "I am delighted with the decision to appoint James Vaughan as the permanent Chief Constable of Dorset and I would like to congratulate him."
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset has won a prestigious gold national award for the quality of its independent custody visiting scheme.
The inaugural Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) Quality Assurance awards were presented at a ceremony at the House of Lords on Wednesday 15 May.
ICVA is the national organisation which supports, leads and represents locally-run custody visiting schemes. Schemes manage teams of independent volunteers who visit those detained in police custody.
Dorset took gold in the awards – given to schemes that could provide an excellent standard of custody visiting and volunteer management.
This is the second highest of the four levels, with only platinum above it.
Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, has set the annual policing budget for 2019/20 including raising the Policing element of the council tax by £24 a year* (Band D).
Each year, it is my responsibility to set the part of your council tax that goes towards funding Dorset Police.
The Government have, once again, placed the responsibility for the majority of this year’s settlement with Police and Crime Commissioners. Rather than providing a much-needed, balanced funding settlement for policing, the Government advice was to increase the policing precept up to the maximum of £24* per year.
This is the amount that I therefore took to consultation with you, the people of Dorset.
The PCC writes to explain his view of spit guards, and how he intends to closely monitor their use as they are introduced by Dorset Police.
He writes: "It is quite clear that the people of Dorset, my constituents, support officers being protected from such attacks and spit guards will now form part of their kit, just like body worn video.
"That said, as the person elected to hold the Force to account, I give the people of Dorset my assurance that I, together with the independent "Use of Force Scrutiny Panel" will monitor and scrutinise the introduction and use of spit guards by Dorset Police as the roll out progresses."
Dorset Police is working together with Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, and Dorset and Wiltshire in a South West Forensics Collaboration.
Since this was formed, the forces have overseen improvements to crime scene investigation, digital forensics and identification services, through a model which sees staff remain locally based.
Writing in Police Professional, the PCC and Dorset Chief Constable James Vaughan describe the need for an ambitious programme of reform across policing.
He writes: "Given the national picture we have described, the nature of the challenges faced by a good force such as Dorset, and the growing body of opinion that the system as it stands is not fit for purpose, it seems to us that we are led to an inescapable conclusion.
"To achieve the changes required, particularly when it comes to force mergers, the Government needs to provide leadership to achieve the Home Secretary’s objective of 'a smarter and better police system which is more collaborative'."
Martyn Underhill joined a growing chorus of PCCs and Chief Constables calling on the government to provide more central funding for policing.
Dorset Police Chief Constable James Vaughan also made a similar declaration. This was the first time that Dorset spoke out against the impact that austerity is having on policing.
The PCC calls for a wide range of people from across Dorset to sit on a series of Independent Scrutiny Panels.
Martyn Underhill said: “These independent panels provide an absolutely vital job of assisting me to hold the Chief Constable to account and come up with suggestions for how they can do things better."
PCC Martyn Underhill reluctantly asked members of the public to pay the equivalent of an additional £2 per month to help fund policing.
A consultation was launched into raising the policing precept after the government placed the responsibility for the majority of the following year’s settlement with Police and Crime Commissioners.
A roadshow was held to ask members of the public for their views on paying £2 a month to fund police.
The PCC, members of his team and volunteers visited 14 locations across the county to seek the public's views on the move, following the announcement of the government's 2019/20 funding settlement.
Following an extensive consultation, the majority of Dorset residents supported raising the policing precept by £24 per year.
More than two thirds of those interviewed - 69% - said they would pay an additional £2 per month, per band D property, for policing services.
The Police and Crime Panel approved plans to raise the amount of money households pay to fund Dorset's police service by £2 per month.
Members of the panel approved the decision following a six week consultation with the public.