Recognising the statutory role and function of the PCC to act as a bridge or link between the police and the public, this commitment seeks to enhance the way we engage and consult with our communities, to ensure that decisions are informed by the issues and concerns that matter to them.
PCCs have a statutory responsibility to effectively engage with the public and obtain the views of the community. They serve as the voice of local people and aim to ensure the police are held accountable on behalf of the public.
Since 2016, the OPCC has strived to improve the ways in which it engages with the public. This work has culminated in 2018/19 being our best year so far for engagement.
In 2018/19, we engaged with more than 5,000 people face-to-face at summer events, speaking engagements, conferences, community meetings, PCC surgeries and online via the Precept survey.
We have reached more than four million people via our social media channels.
To achieve this commitment, the OPCC has strived to improve upon the ways in which it engages with local communities and more specifically, with some groups across Dorset that might not actively seek out engagement with the police. These groups, upon which our progress to this commitment is also measured, are Black, Asian and minority ethic (BAME), youth, rural and older people.
The work with these groups has developed and progressed over the last four years and some significant improvements have been made. For example, we have worked hard to ensure that OPCC is more representative of Dorset’s communities.
The OPCC now have more BAME volunteers than ever before. Around a third of all of OPCC community engagement volunteers now identify as having a BAME background.
The OPCC is also a member of Prejudice Free Dorset and as such has a direct link to hear from representatives of a large number of community groups – all of which provide a valuable opinion resource for us. Listening and including insights and opinions from across a diverse range of community groups enhances both our understanding and approach to community engagement.
2019 has seen the launch of the first Dorset Police Cadet Scheme – giving OPCC and the Force the opportunity to engage directly with a range of Dorset’s younger people, and tell them more about the work of the OPCC. Engaging with young people has been a challenge for us, so we are keen to utilise the opportunity provided by the Cadet scheme to capture the views and thoughts of our younger residents. Plans are developing to involve the Cadets in several work streams, including cyber-safety, violent crime reduction and child protection.
The PCC and his office have attended numerous events throughout this term of office, including PROBUS, Discussion Clubs, Neighbourhood Watch groups and U3A groups in order to both listen to the thoughts of our older communities and to give updates on the work of the OPCC.
Those engagement opportunities gave us the chance to identify gaps in services and information and, as a result, we have been able to introduce the work of our colleagues within the Force to address those needs.
We have continued to support the work of the Rural Crime Team and the OPCC has supported a number of national surveys. This includes the annual National Rural Crime Survey – the largest ever survey into crime and anti-social behaviour in rural areas in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to find out how the police can better serve rural communities.
More detail of our engagement with these specific groups is published in the Annual Engagement Report which is available online via the OPCC website.
As part of his election manifesto in 2016, the PCC stated: “I will publish an annual community engagement report, highlighting the views of the people. This report will inform the Chief Constable, the Force and myself.”
In line with this commitment, Annual Engagement Reports have been published for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years. A 2019/20 report will be published in 2020.
Reports are published online and available via the following link:
The Annual Engagement Report allows for greater transparency, accountability and public scrutiny of the PCC’s current engagement approach, empowering residents to become more involved in generating new ideas to more effectively bring policing to the heart of all communities in Dorset.
Information contained within the 2018/19 report highlights our key consultation and engagement activities across the year, covering issues such as the annual policing budget and precept; the merger proposal between Dorset Police and Devon & Cornwall Police; our summer event programme; Scrutiny Panels; public contact and correspondence; PCC Surgeries; online and social media reach; and progress against our specific objectives regarding engagement with four specifically identified groups – Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME), Youth, Elderly and Rural.
Upon re-election the PCC sought to adopt a new approach to targeting specific crime or community issues that continue to challenge a number of public service partners through establishing a series of problem solving forums.
The three forums that have been held during the PCC’s term of office have all sought to focus on particularly ‘wicked issues’ affecting the police and a range of other partners – homelessness, fly tipping and County Lines drug activity – and more detail is set out elsewhere on each of these individual forums and the action that has occurred as a result.
Ultimately, the PCC Problem Solving Forums have proven that, through the range of attendance and engagement, the nature of the discussions, the ideas generated and the volume and variety of shared actions agreed and subsequently implemented, such an approach can be successful and have a long-term impact on addressing deep rooted problems and issues.
Three Problem Solving Forums have been held during the term of office and since the publication of the Police and Crime Plan in March 2017. These covered Homelessness (October 2017), Fly Tipping (June 2018) and County Lines (November 2018).
Homelessness: This event took place in partnership with the Bournemouth and Poole Council for Voluntary Services’ Criminal Justice Forum and was attended by representatives from 22 voluntary sector organisations. Attendees included housing associations along with a range of organisations providing advice, support, mentoring and advocacy, emergency provision, drug and alcohol services, funding, outreach work, and specialist work with offenders and ex-offenders.
There were presentations from a range of voluntary and statutory sector organisations, followed by workshop sessions across themes of health, housing, support and finance, education, employment, training and benefits. The workshops identified issues, including gaps, and identified potential actions/solutions to address the issues. A range of activities were identified and details of these are shown here.
Fly tipping: This Problem Solving Forum included presentations by the PCC, Dorset Police, Dorset Waste Partnership and the Environment Agency. These were then followed by two workshops to solve the identified issues from both rural and urban perspectives. The groups were asked to identify what they perceived the main actions should be and appropriate ones would be taken forward and funded where required, through a business case. A range of activities were identified and details are shown here.
County lines: Around 60 local representatives from the statutory and voluntary sector attended the Problem Solving Forum on County Lines at the Queen Elizabeth School in Wimborne Minster. ‘Scene-setting’ presentations were given by Dorset Police, the National County Lines Coordination Centre, Aster Housing Association and the St Giles Trust. Facilitated workshops were held to identify proposed actions. A range of activities were identified and details of these are shown in here.
Homelessness is a serious issue in Dorset, as it is in other parts of the UK, and this was the focus of the first PCC Problem Solving Forum.
The OPCC facilitated the event in October 2017, with help from the Bournemouth Council of Voluntary Services, who drew together a number of organisations to discuss ideas and innovations in relation to local homelessness issues.
Homelessness, particularly rough sleeping and associated issues like begging and street drinking, was a high profile issue in Bournemouth at the time, which has since escalated in other parts of the county.
At the time of the event, plans to reform the local government arrangements in Dorset were at an advanced stage, and these uncertainties made it difficult for local authorities to contribute to the forum.
The PCC identified veterans and ex-offenders as particular groups of homeless people and rough sleepers in need of further support.
The forum identified a number of ideas and proposals for further consideration and action. The following provides a summary of some of the key areas of progress as a result.
Enhanced partnership working – through the creation of a multi-agency homelessness reduction steering group, with an initial key focus on the implementation of, and ongoing progress against, the duty to refer element of the Homelessness Prevention Act 2018.
An offender housing strategic planning group focused on offender accommodation has also been established. This group specifically looks at the challenges facing ex-offenders in securing and maintaining stable accommodation which is an essential element of any meaningful rehabilitation.
Beyond the forum, and following the local government restructure in Dorset, the PCC has met the new local authority chief executives to discuss a number of areas of shared concern, including reducing re-offending through stable accommodation. The recent creation of the South West Reducing Reoffending Board in 2019 also allows for PCCs and other senior stakeholders to discuss approaches to resolving shared problems such as accommodation for ex-offenders
Veterans’ accommodation – an initial idea to explore individual containerised living units for homeless individuals evolved into a pilot scheme for veterans. This involves working with the YMCA to provide accommodation and associated support for homeless veterans, with move on accommodation available from Pivotal Housing once they are ready for greater independence, and early indications are that the project is working well. The veterans, some of whom have PTSD and alcohol issues and have been through the criminal justice system, are receiving appropriate help along with training and skills from the Above and Beyond Trust to assist with future employment. Further information on our wider work with veterans can be found under Pillar 1 – Protecting People at Risk of Harm.
Prison through the gate service – funding approved for 18 months for Circles South West to deliver a ‘through the gate’ resettlement service for prisoners being released from HMP The Verne.
Exploring future ideas – other ideas that continue to be explored include the potential for establishing a multi-agency homelessness hub, consideration of a ‘passport’ scheme for homeless individuals to provide a comprehensive overview of their situation, and scoping an idea around ‘live and work’ units to support younger people into affordable housing associated with setting up their own small business. Much of this is reliant on the new councils finalising their homelessness strategies.
Improving housing standards – the forum identified improving housing provision and standards particularly within the private rented sector as a key factor. The PCC has supported Operation Galaxy in Bournemouth, a partnership approach to reducing anti social behaviour, criminality, housing disrepair, housing management issues and fire risk. The Commissioner has also lobbied in support of proposed selective licensing schemes for Bournemouth and Weymouth.
Community grants – during the term the PCC has issued a number of Community Grants to support local homelessness initiatives. This includes Street Support – online mapping of outreach and support services for the homeless and the Second Half Scheme which teaches practical carpentry skills to former rough sleepers. It also includes the Lantern Project in Weymouth – an ex-offenders housing and resettlement project providing advice and guidance on finding accommodation – as well as Friends for the Future – a drop-in advice session for homeless people in Boscombe. There have also been applications from the Lantern Trust, Faith Works and Julian’s House to support winter 2019/20 rough sleeping projects working with vulnerable homeless individuals.
Fly tipping is a blight that causes a nuisance to residents, makes areas appear run down and creates potential health hazards.
The PCC agreed this would be the subject of his second problem solving forum, held in June 2018. While often considered a low level matter, fly tipping is a persistent and ongoing problem affecting both rural and urban areas, and is also often linked to wider criminal activity. As well as being unsightly and damaging, it is also expensive and time consuming to address. There is often public confusion over which agency is responsible for dealing with concerns, the differences between fly tipping on public and private land, and the role of the police.
A partnership response is required to properly tackle fly tipping and the forum sought to bring these partners together to identify new thoughts and ideas that could potentially be implemented.
The forum provided an excellent opportunity to update on the current situation across Dorset, existing response and successes in dealing with fly tipping and lively discussions on potential new approaches and ideas.
While it was recognised at the time that some of these ideas were more aspirational and potentially less feasible to implement, they were considered worthy of exploration nonetheless. Key developments as a result of the forum can be summarised as follows:
A coordinated a multi-agency approach to fly tipping in Dorset – The OPCC has led on establishing the Dorset Fly Tipping Group (DFTG), bringing together partners to ensure a coordinated and more effective response to fly-tipping. Membership includes BCP and Dorset Councils, Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) – who delivers the waste collection services for Dorset Council – Dorset Police, Environment Agency (EA), National Farmers Union (NFU), Country Landowners Association (CLA), National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust.
Fly tipping coordinator - A key piece of work of the DFTG has been the recruitment of a dedicated fly tipping co-ordinator post. Funded for one year by the PCC, this post has been recruited by the EA and took up their post in December 2019. They will take ownership of the DTFG meetings and the delivery of the group’s action plan, which includes a co-ordinated approach to awareness raising, reporting, monitoring and enforcement.
Additional investigative support – For more serious repeat fly tipping offences Dorset Police have agreed to provide additional investigative support to assist in bringing offenders to justice. This has included forensic support, for example assisting the EA on repeat cases such as the dumping of illegal farming waste.
Exploring technological solutions – The DFTG are piloting the use of CCTV for identified fly tipping hotspots, having reviewed a range of suitable equipment for deployment in both urban and rural, often remote, settings. Cameras will be funded by the PCC and Dorset Police are currently working with DWP to identify suitable pilot locations. In support of this, Dorset Council has set up an online map showing all reports of fly tipping, pulling together data from multiple sources and refreshed on an ongoing basis. The new fly tipping coordinator will lead on developing these solutions further once in post.
Simplify and increase reports of fly tipping – Work has been carried out to streamline reporting processes to make reporting fly tipping as simple as possible for the public. Following the local government restructure, both BCP and Dorset councils have information and reporting tools for fly tipping on their websites. The Dorset Police ‘Ask Ned’ directory also includes a section on fly tipping, a new ‘front page’ website for the DFTG is in development and will make it easier to report incidents along with providing information and signposting to other websites.
Awareness raising – The DFTG has agreed to adopt a Hertfordshire developed campaign, already widely used across the UK, as a single brand to assist with communications and awareness raising activity. The fly tipping coordinator will oversee this work, with the first joint campaign scheduled to run over December 2019. The DFTG have already assisted with some local campaigns.
Exploring opportunities to increase enforcement – A number of initiatives are being explored to identify opportunities to increase enforcement measures against fly tipping offenders. In October 2019 Dorset Police began a pilot project inputting fixed penalty notices relating to fly tipping onto the police national computer to improve local intelligence and targeting of organised crime groups. The Force is also sharing information with partners where roads operations have identified suspect vehicles, which also assists with joint enforcement operations implemented by the DTFG. Meanwhile, work is taking place with the National Fly Tipping Prevention Group around ways to raise awareness with the judiciary about the impact of fly tipping and options for sentencing offenders and recovering costs for land owners. This includes exploring the use of community impact assessments and victim statements already in place for other rural crimes.
It is hoped this level of activity demonstrates a genuine commitment from the PCC and partners to provide a robust and sustainable response to the blight of fly tipping despite the demand and resource pressures currently faced by the agencies involved. The Commissioner has been in the ideal position to facilitate and bring partners together to co-ordinate their efforts, as well as providing initial funding to enable ideas and initiatives to be introduced. The OPCC will provide ongoing monitoring and scrutiny of this activity to gauge how effective it has been in tackling fly tipping locally. The Commissioner will also remain engaged with national partnerships such as the National Rural Crime Network to share any learning from our work while also being linked in to best practice developed elsewhere.
County lines is a major issue, in which drug gangs come into rural areas from big cities, often exploiting vulnerable people by practices such as cuckooing – in which they take over people’s homes to use them as a base for their criminal activities.
This has emerged as a significant national and local issue during the last few years, and Dorset Police has been proactive in recognising, acknowledging and responding to the threat – as acknowledged in a 2018/19 inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
However, a 2018 Joint Targeted Area Inspection identified concerns regarding the wider partnership response to children and young people at risk of exploitation and county lines in the then Dorset County Council area. The inspection looked at the multi-agency response to child sexual exploitation, children associated with gangs and at risk of exploitation and children missing from home, care or education in Dorset. The report identified the following areas for priority action:
• The local authority must ensure actions and decision-making for the most vulnerable children are robust and ensure the response matches the degree of risk.
• The local authority must put in place a mechanism to ensure children who are still at risk, or for whom the extent of the risk is unknown, do not have their involvement with children’s social care prematurely closed.
• The partnership must put in place a mechanism to ensure intelligence in relation to criminal exploitation and risks associated with county lines is collected, shared, analysed and acted on to provide an effective multi-agency response for children.
As a result of this, the Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCBs) arranged an awareness raising conference for partners in November 2018. Working with the LSCBs, the PCC also identified this as an opportunity to host an associated Problem Solving Forum to discuss ideas in response to the challenges
Following the county lines problem solving forum a significant amount of work has taken place.
Improve co-ordination and information sharing – Initial work by the local Community Safety Partnerships, the new pan-Dorset Safeguarding Children Partnership, Adult Safeguarding Boards and the OPCC has supported the implementation of the Children At Risk Or Linked to Exploitation (CAROLE)model. This has implemented new partnership structures to identify risk and share data to enable more effective support for children and young people affected.
Child Exploitation Transformational Lead (CETL) – Crucial to these new arrangements is the CETL coordinator posted, funded for one year by the PCC. The new lead reports to the Dorset Safeguarding Children Partnership and oversees the arrangements across partner agencies to prevent or reduce the risk of exploitation of children and adults. The post has been funded for one year by the OPCC.
Early engagement and diversion – As identified in separate commitments, the PCC has undertaken work to explore and commission youth mentoring and diversion schemes. These have the dual aims of diverting young people at risk of offending from entering the criminal justice system, while identifying and working with young people at risk of exploitation. Work with the Dorset Combined Youth Offending Service has also resulted in BCP and Dorset Councils reviewing their services as part of restructures and establishing a ‘lead professional’ approach, ensuring the most appropriate agency is providing proper support to vulnerable young people.
In addition to this, the PCC continues to work with partners to improve responses to vulnerability, including those relating to county lines.
This includes continuing to promote and raise awareness of the issues and how they affect Dorset, and engaging with partners to develop a multi-agency child exploitation strategy which the PCC hopes will eventually become an ‘all-age’ strategy.
It also includes exploring technological solutions that may assist with managing vulnerability, such as a digital platform for sharing information, and continuing to explore what support is available, particularly from the voluntary and community sector, to ensure these resources are used most effectively.
This commitment specifically related to the CyberSafe campaign that was live at the time of the PCC’s re-election in May 2016. However, activity has subsequently changed and evolved, particularly with the introduction of a dedicated Cyber Crime Protect and Prevention Officer within Dorset Police.
While the specific CyberSafe campaign from the PCC’s first term of office has now finished, the appointment of a dedicated Cyber Crime Protect and Prevention Officer has seen a number of initiatives introduced to promote cyber crime awareness and share crime prevention tools and advice.
The Cyber Crime section of the Dorset Police website has been developed to incorporate a number of free resources, provide advice and guidance on how to protect yourself and your devices, and signpost to further information on a variety of subjects from a range of sources.
A Cyber-Crime Prevention Toolkit is also available and the Cyber Crime Protect and Prevention Officer also undertakes a number of talks and presentations to businesses and community groups across the county throughout the year – often alongside PCC public engagement events. Active social media accounts also provide regular and current updates and advice.
A series of guest blogs on the PCC website have been published to help increase awareness, focusing on topics such as Remember to Stay Safe from Fraudsters, How to Stay Safe on Social Media – Part One and Part Two, How to Avoid the Summer Holiday Scammers and most recently, Don’t Let the Cyber Grinch Steal Christmas.
In addition to this, the PCC continues to work closely with the City of London Police and National Fraud Investigation Bureau (NFIB) to improve the national Action Fraud reporting centre, particularly with regard to victim care and support. He has signed up as a SCAMbassador as part of the National Trading Standards (NTS) Friends Against Scams initiative and receives six monthly NFIB Cyber Crime and Fraud Profiles for Dorset which assist in monitoring issues locally and scrutinising the Force response to them.
The PCC and the Chief Constable recognise the important contribution made by businesses of all sizes. Many businesses in Dorset are small enterprises of few employees or sole traders. If these businesses become victims of crime, it can have a devastating impact on the prosperity of the business and the welfare of owners and staff.
When the PCC was re-elected in 2016, businesses had communicated their frustrations regarding a lack of police focus, engagement and information relating to the crimes that affect businesses the most. Business leaders felt business crime was a low priority for Dorset Police.
The Commissioner therefore committed to raise awareness and the profile of business crime and improve the police focus and engagement with the business community.
To address concerns raised by business owners, the PCC allocated resources to provide a business crime lead within the OPCC to engage with the Force and business leads, improving the focus on business crime. Following discussions with the Chief Constable, a Force Business Crime Champion was appointed to oversee the operational focus and drive improvements across Dorset.
At the beginning of the PCC’s term, there was no overarching business crime strategy to provide the focus for business crime and engagement in Dorset and a decision was made to develop a business crime strategy to prioritise the needs of Dorset businesses.
The OPCC carried out strategy consultation with a wide range of business leads across Dorset, to identify how the OPCC and Dorset Police could improve how it engages and provides information to businesses as well as how crime is reported.
The final version of the Business Crime Strategy was approved by the Dorset PCC and Chief Constable. It provides set priorities, focuses energy and resources, and strengthens operations to ensure everyone works towards a common goal.
Within the Business Crime Strategy the approach is:
Supporting this work, a business engagement structure has been established to improve the relationships between the police and local business communities. This has consisted of the development of:
NPTs provide the day-to-day liaison and problem solving while more challenging issues or common themes are escalated to the Business Co-ordinating Groups for consideration and action as appropriate.
The Business Co-ordinating Groups take responsibility for the issues but will escalate issues to the strategic Business Safety Partnership if they are unable to resolve or if issues require a wider partnership or national solution.
The strategic Business Safety Partnership is attended by the Business Crime Champion, the OPCC Business Crime Lead and Lead Dorset business organisations. It also links in with a wide range of local and national bodies.
Underpinning this structure is a range of ongoing activity and interventions that support our local business communities, including:
All of this is in addition to longer standing community initiatives such as Shop Watch, Hotel Watch, Pub Watch, Farm Watch and Horse Watch which all increase engagement, information sharing, intelligence gathering and crime prevention.
A series of themed Business Crime Seminars are also being planned to further increase engagement, awareness raising of key issues and approaches to tackling crime.
One of the commitments made by the PCC relating to business crime concerned continuing to maintain and develop relationships with local business leaders and organisations.
As with many areas of crime and community safety, a partnership approach to business crime provides the most effective response to identify ways the police and businesses in Dorset can work together to reduce crime and reduce the impact this has on the community.
The Commissioner and Chief Constable are both keen to ensure that businesses have the confidence to report crimes and incidents as intelligence and information sharing is vital for understanding the true picture of business crime locally. Whilst policing continues to face challenges around demand and levels of resourcing, an accurate picture of crime locally helps to inform appropriate responses and resourcing.
The PCC has continued to meet regularly with local business groups and leaders across the term of office, including representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), National Famers Union (NFU), Country Land & Business Association (CLA) and Castlepoint Shopping Centre. This ongoing contact has allowed the Commissioner to remain up to date on the issues and concerns affecting businesses and to assist in his role of scrutinising the police response.
As mentioned elsewhere in the commitment relating to improving the response to business crime, the office of the PCC has also been instrumental in developing a new Business Crime Strategy and represented on the working group responsible for implementing a new engagement structure, ensuring linkage and coordination between Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) ‘on the ground’ and the police and business groups at a more strategic level.
We continue to develop these arrangements and expand representation to ensure that the business ‘voice’ is fully heard.
In setting this commitment, the PCC was mindful of the need to reach beyond only educating drivers caught breaking the law, such as by speeding or jumping red lights.
Instead, he sought to reach a wider pool of drivers to educate them, refresh and enhance their skills, and ultimately improve the standard of driving on our roads and reduce road traffic casualties.
Dorset OPCC is an active member of Dorset Road Safe. Dorset Road Safe is a partnership designed to reduce the numbers of road traffic casualties on Dorset’s roads, with a focus on education, enforcement and engineering. Education continues to be developed and includes:
Dorset Police also continues to run their annual summer and winter drink and drug driving campaigns, alongside ideas such as the recent ‘Choices for Humanity’ campaign encouraging road users to make better choices.
Injuries occur on Dorset’s roads on average five times a day, and these incidents can potentially have tragic consequences – for those involved, their loved ones and the wider community.
Road safety is one of the main concerns of the county’s residents and the public rightly expects agencies to work together to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the road. Because of this, road safety is a major theme in the 2017-2021 Dorset Police and Crime Plan.
The response to these concerns is considerable. The statutory Dorset Road Safety Partnership was established in 2002 and is led by Dorset Police with representation from organisations including the OPCC, Local Highways Authorities, Dorset & Wilts Fire & Rescue Service, Public Health and Highways England. The strategy recognises the need for a coordinated and evidence-based approach – bringing together education, enforcement and engineering to address safety issues.
In Dorset, this partnership approach has led to a series of innovative and effective tactics that continue to enjoy the support of our communities. To support the work of the Dorset Road Safety Partnership, the PCC pledged to update the old website so it was more user friendly and kept up to date with relevant safety advice.
The website went live in early 2018 at the following address: www.dorsetroadsafe.org.uk
Feedback has been favourable and the statistics show a healthy level of engagement and activity on the website, as summarised below for the whole of 2018/19 and the available quarters so far in 2019/20:
Individuals visiting website
Total page views
Average time spent on website
How website was accessed:
How website was found:
Since 2012, there has been a significant reduction in the number of people killed and seriously injured on Dorset’s roads – from 393 in 2012 to 293 in 2018. Slight casualties have also shown a similar reduction.
The casualty reduction trend for serious and slight casualties has continued into 2019, however Dorset has seen an increase in the number of fatalities. In 2017, 27 people were killed on Dorset’s roads, falling to 16 in 2018, but sadly this appears likely to rise to 2017 levels again in 2019. Final figures for 2019 will be available in March 2020 once all the data has been verified. Dorset Road Safe continue to analyse the collision data and to identify any opportunities to address the rise in fatal collisions.
A partnership approach, focused on a combination of enforcement, education and engineering, continues to work hard to improve road safety locally.
One long standing campaign by Dorset Police has been 'No Excuse'. Relaunched in 2014 with a new, dedicated team of police officers and staff (supported by Special Constables), No Excuse concentrates specifically on areas where the public have expressed concerns, where there have been a high number of collisions, or where analysis has identified a particular risk. Education and enforcement efforts are then directed at tackling the ‘fatal five’:
• drink and drug driving
• not wearing a seatbelt
• driver distractions (eg using a mobile phone while driving)
• careless driving
The team operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The PCC recognises that whilst progress has been made, more needs to be done to reduce road casualties and protect vulnerable road users. The Commissioner therefore made a number of related commitments upon re-election, including a specific commitment to work with the No Excuse team to raise awareness and education around poor decision making and careless driving.
A number of ongoing No Excuse operations are in place targeting different aspects of road safety and road traffic offences. These include Operation Dragoon, targeting our most prolific and high risk road offenders; Operation Allied Wolf, an alliance across Dorset, Devon and Cornwall providing a highly visible roads police presence within a concentrated geographic area; and ‘Surround a Town’ operations concentrating on mass enforcement and publicity in a specific area.
In addition, the team work closely with the Dorset Strategic Road Safety Partnership (DSRSP) on other initiatives. For example, in April 2019 the Partnership launched the innovative ‘Choices for Humanity’ campaign aimed at getting all road users to think about their behaviours and to encourage them to make better choices. Partly funded by the PCC the campaign has been positively received and received a significant amount of attention, including national Government recognition.
Analysis has identified a total campaign exposure of 15 million road users through the various methods used, along with 104,000 individuals actively engaged with by the campaign.
The Commissioner also provided backing to Operation Close Pass, which sees the police targeting drivers who don’t give vulnerable road users such as cyclists or horses enough room when overtaking. Close Pass uses police officers patrolling the roads with cameras to record the behaviour of drivers who overtake them. If offences take place, the officer alerts colleagues who direct the vehicle into a checkpoint where the driver is offered roadside education using a mat illustrating the safe passing distance. Anyone refusing the 10-minute roadside education will receive a fixed penalty notice and three points on their licence. Operation Close Pass – Cycle Safe was launched in July 2017, followed by Operation Close Pass – Horse Safe in March 2019.
In supporting other national campaigns the PCC also actively promotes awareness raising, including the ‘My Red Thumb’ campaign in 2017 educating against the use of mobile phones whilst driving; support for annual road safety weeks of action, including a specific focus on bike safety and motorcyclists; and support for wider road safety initiatives including the promotion of Community Speed Watch and regular drink/drug driving campaigns.
The Commissioner will continue to ensure that Dorset Police are appropriately resourced in order to carry out road safety activity such as No Excuse whilst also working with partners to consider any new and innovative approaches that can potentially be implemented to make further progress.
As part of a range of commitments made to improve road safety, the PCC pledged to continue to lobby for a reduction in the drink drive limit to assist in reducing the number of fatalities and serious injuries occurring on our roads nationally and locally.
Regular lobbying and awareness raising activity has been carried out across the term of office. For example, in December 2017, the PCC wrote to the then Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, setting out the case for lowering the drink drive limit. He highlighted how out of kilter England and Wales were from the rest of Europe and how early signs in Scotland had been encouraging following a reduction in the limit north of the border. The PCC suggested new initiatives to tackle a problem that has seen the number of drink drive related deaths plateau over recent years.
In April 2018, the PCC undertook a public consultation to understand Dorset residents’ views on the drink drive limit. More than 2,000 people responded, with 72% supporting a move to reduce the limit in line with Scotland and much of the rest of Europe. These local findings were consistent with the British Social Attitudes survey’s findings of 77% support nationally for lowering the limit. These findings have been shared with a number of interested parties and used for further lobbying for change.
In addition, the Commissioner continues to promote and raise awareness of the perils of drink and drug driving, supporting the annual summer and winter Dorset Police drink and drug driving campaigns. The PCC blogged on this issue in December 2018.
In 2019, the PCC has engaged with the Transport Select Committee to further lobby for a reduction in the drink drive limit. In April 2019 a Committee consultation on road safety provided an opportunity to highlight drink-driving as one area where the current Government approach to road safety could be improved; and in August 2019 the Commissioner responded to a road safety consultation on young and novice drivers where he also took the opportunity to lobby in general for a more effective response to drink driving.
Drink and drug driving is one of the ‘fatal five’ main causes of road traffic collisions which can result in injuries or fatalities.
These five factors, which also include excessive speed, poor decision making, not wearing a seatbelt and using a mobile phone while driving, are the focus of education and enforcement efforts to make Dorset’s roads safer.
In agreeing the annual council tax precept and setting the Dorset Police budget each year the PCC, in consultation with the Chief Constable, aims to ensure resources are available to address key areas including road safety.
This commitment is also closely linked to the separate PCC commitment to expand the availability of drug driving kits to the Force during his term of office.
While the sustained period of austerity has had an effect on the resources available to Dorset Police, a significant amount of work has continued in response to road safety, the ‘fatal five’ and tackling drink and drug driving specifically.
Campaigns – These generally take place throughout the summer and during the build-up to Christmas. They are supported by the OPCC and include regular updates on the numbers of people arrested and charged.
While the 2019 summer drink drug drive campaign was cancelled nationally, messages were still delivered to members of the public in Dorset through social media and at engagement events, including at the regular car and bike gatherings at Poole Quay.
The Commissioner also provided funding towards a major new partnership road safety campaign – Choices for Humanity – designed to encourage road users to make better choices and decisions. Based loosely on the popular Cards Against Humanity game, messaging was aimed at all road users with messages aimed at resonating in a more impactful way.
Enforcement – Ongoing police roadside enforcement activity continues, with 5,520 breath tests undertaken throughout 2018, of which 847 returned positive results. Coupled with this, a successful ‘fast track’ justice pilot has been implemented which has seen drink drivers processed through the criminal justice system within a matter of days, removing some of the more dangerous drivers from our roads as quickly as possible.
In addition, Operation Dragoon continues to target our most prolific offenders and high risk motorists identified for offences such as drink and drug driving as well as speeding. The initiative ensures these individuals are identified as early as possible, with positive, persistent and proportionate action taken against them. High and medium risk offenders are allocated an officer who focuses on preventing them from escalating their behaviour through engagement with them, their family and friends. In 2018, 569 vehicles were stopped and 242 targets arrested under Op Dragoon.
More recently, Dorset Police have launched Operation Snap, providing a secure online facility for members of the public to submit video and photographic evidence of driving incidents they have witnessed. While not specifically targeted towards drink or drug driving, it will assist the police in the investigation of dangerous and careless driving and incidences of driving without due care and attention.
Education and Awareness raising – The PCC has continued to support and promote education and awareness raising activity relating to drink and drug drive issues. Specific examples include the public consultation on the drink drive limit undertaken in 2017, support for the BRAKE National Road Safety Week, and blogs in support of the Christmas drink and drug drive campaign.
The Dorset Road Safe team also continue to attend numerous public events across the year to engage with the public, promote road safety initiatives and educate on the risks affecting all road users. For example, at the summer 2019 Dorset Police Force Open Day the team issued advice, guidance and single use breathalysers.
Driving after taking drugs can be dangerous and, along with drink driving, this has been identified as one of the ‘fatal five’ factors behind road traffic collisions and the resulting serious injuries and fatalities.
While there has long been an impetus to highlight the risks associated with alcohol and driving, in recent years drug driving has become more prevalent.
Like alcohol, drugs can impair an individual’s ability to drive safely and it is illegal to drive if you are unfit to do so through the use of drugs – either legal or illegal. It is also an offence to drive with certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood even where this may not affect driving behaviour.
Education and enforcement by the police and partners now very much focuses on drink and drug driving and for that reason the PCC has supported activity across his term of office to highlight the dangers of drug driving.
Activity has traditionally focused on the annual summer and winter drink and drug drive campaigns, supported by the OPCC, and regularly updating on the numbers of people arrested and charged to reinforce messages and reassure the public on action being taken.
Social media allows for regular and ongoing messaging to the public and is coupled with direct face-to-face engagement – such as attendance at events like the regular summer car and bike gatherings at Poole Quay.
In 2017, Dorset Police also featured prominently in the ‘Gordon Ramsey on Cocaine’ documentary looking at the impact of the international cocaine industry and how law enforcement is tackling the issue.
As part of the documentary the chef was able to join officers on patrol for a special operation to tackle the issue of drug driving back – and witnessed firsthand the arrest of two drivers who tested positive at the roadside for having cocaine in their system.
Not only was this an excellent opportunity to raise awareness to a national audience of the prevalence and risks associated with drug driving, it also showcased the excellent work taking place locally to tackle this aspect of road safety despite ongoing resource and demand pressures faced by the Force
Building on his pledge during his first term to retain the Dorset Police Marine Unit and invest in new equipment, the PCC committed to funding an extra post within the unit to increase capacity and resilience.
The Marine Unit patrols Dorset’s 89 miles of coastline, from Lyme Regis to Christchurch, with a crew of specially trained officers.
As part of a number of commitments delivered during the first 100 days of office, the PCC agreed to fund an additional member of the unit, enabling coverage over two separate shifts and almost doubling the amount of time that the police rigid hulled inflatable boat can spend on the water.
In addition, and linking in with the PCC’s wider concerns and lobbying over port security, the PCC supported the 2017 launch of the South West Portwatch Scheme. This is a two-way regional messaging system that allows the police, partners and marine communities to share intelligence, report marine or ports related crime directly and manage threat, risk and harm more efficiently.
Finally, in recognition of the demands currently faced by the Marine Unit, and the age and suitability of existing equipment, a procurement process has been completed for the purchase of a new Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB).
Building on a number of rural crime related activities during his first term of office, the PCC sought to introduce a Rural Crime Team for Dorset during the first 100 days of his second term.
It was acknowledged that our rural communities often have greater concerns about crime and its impact than those in urban areas, so a dedicated resource to prevent, investigate and prosecute rural crime related matters would seek to address this.
The new team was launched at a Partnership Networking Event in August 2016. Opening the event, the PCC stated:
“My commitments upon taking office were focused on providing the best possible service to all the communities in Dorset. The launch of the Rural Crime Team reflects that commitment.
“I know from the many rural residents and business owners I have met in Dorset that the fear of crime is high in rural areas. I also know the severe impact rural crime has on victims and their livelihoods.
“Introducing a dedicated team will ensure that more proactive work is done to target this type of criminality, and that we can make people living and working in Dorset’s many rural areas feel safe. It also introduces consistency across intelligence, investigation and crime prevention.”The introduction of the team has led to a number of improvements including an increase in reports of suspicious incidents, suspicious vehicles and poaching incidents.
It has also enhanced internal training to call handlers, rural officers and special constables, as well as crime prevention advice and activity, including engagement and awareness raising activities encouraging the public to take simple steps like marking property and fitting trackers to expensive equipment and material.
This often takes place through initiatives that capture the public’s imagination, such as the ‘Robo-Crop’ police marked tractor and filming with Countryfile on the thefts of rare bird eggs.
Other successes have included a successful prosecution for poaching, a number of arrests relating to tractor thefts, and contributing to multi-agency operations to tackle fly-tipping.
More broadly, the PCC continues to be an active member of the National Rural Crime Network and has provided funding support for the 2018 National Rural Crime Survey as a means to increase knowledge and understanding of the issues most affecting rural communities at a local, regional and national level.
Ensuring that police are visible and accessible to the communities they serve is one of the most important issues in community policing.
Upon re-election in 2016, the PCC made a number of commitments targeted towards enhancing police visibility and accessibility, despite the challenges faced by austerity, funding cuts and a reduction in police officer and staff numbers.
One such way that this can be achieved is through the provision of a sophisticated online service – to include a modern, user-friendly website; strong use of social media; and the exploitation of new web technologies.
Shortly before his re-election, the Commissioner approved the creation of a new website for Dorset Police. The new website, which launched in autumn 2016 and replaced its decade-old predecessor, was built using a future-proofed software platform that is shared with Devon and Cornwall Police. The changes helped to reduce hosting and maintenance costs, improved security and compatibility issues, and allowed the Force to optimise content for mobile devices.
The latest stats on the Dorset Police website confirm that within the month of October 2019, there were 72,924 people that visited the website. Over 10,000 pages were visited by people seeking out help, advice and information on crime prevention and the Neighbourhood Policing pages were viewed over 8,000 times. Compared to October 2018, Dorset have had 19.33% more users who spent on average -0.39% less time on the site, however, they visited 27.99% more pages.
These improved figures help to realise the Commissioner’s ambition to better engage with Dorset’s communities and make sure that important public safety advice reaches more people than evert before.
More detail on the specific initiatives that are linked to the Dorset Police website are provided elsewhere, but users of the website will notice regular updates and enhancements – from the introduction of Ask NED, through to the inclusion of the Neighbourhood Engagement Plans that now sit on each Neighbourhood Policing Team page.
Behind the scenes, the PCC has invested heavily in technology so that the Force can continue to exploit online technologies – with the Force working on a number of ways in which information from the website can directly link with force systems. Web technology continues to move forward at an ever greater pace and the PCC will continue to work closely with the Chief Constable to explore further options for improving police performance, efficiency and outcomes for the public.
Despite the challenges faced by Dorset Police regarding increased and more complex demand alongside reductions in resources, the public continue to feel more reassured by a visible and accessible police presence in their area.
While officer numbers have reduced, there are undoubtedly ways that can be explored to maximise their time on frontline policing duties, including their contact with local communities.
Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) are much valued and operate at the heart of the communities they serve. Despite funding pressures, the PCC pledged to keep NPTs, and the Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) role, in Dorset during his term to maintain this valuable link between the police and the public.
Investment in technology by the Commissioner has enabled officers to work remotely more effectively, enhancing their visible presence. The introduction of the Neighbourhood Engagement Contract has also set out clear minimum standards for NPT officers in terms of how they will engage with the public and what the public can expect from them.
While there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to engagement, online communications such as web chats are one way to enhance accessibility and provide more flexibility for interactions with the police.
The PCC has held a number of successful online conversations, for example in launching the Police and Crime Plan or as a focus on a specific issue or geographical area, all including local officers with specific knowledge and experience.
Some NPTs have explored using web chats alongside a range of other communication tools such as meetings, social media, website updates and Dorset Alert. The Force will continue to explore the wider use of online communications and are currently exploring the best platform to facilitate this – possibly linked to existing social media facilities.
The OPCC is keen to ensure that officers and staff are able to adapt to the challenges and demands their roles provide, including tackling the challenge to work ever more efficiently and effectively in their roles and so the phased introduction of 1000 new laptops across the Force has been widely welcomed as a significant step toward a truly mobile workforce.
The laptops will give officers and staff the ability to use the full range of software away from police stations, effectively removing the need to return to stations to update records which in turn will save a substantial amount of officer hours. In addition, there has been an upgrade to the mobile phones used, which means mobile hot spots will be available to help enhance remote policing.
These improvements will ultimately, increase visibility of police in our communities and allow smarter working practices to evolve.
The OPCC has communication at the heart of everything it does. By communicating with our communities, we are able to deliver the priorities that matter to them and develop excellent relationships with members of the public, as well as organisations like local authorities, private and voluntary sectors.
Effective public engagement is a statutory responsibility of PCCs, who must seek the views of the community in order to act as the bridge between policing and the public. This is achieved through various methods, including public consultation, community meetings, surgeries and conferences.
The PCC has taken a position that no person or group is hard to reach, but that different approaches should be taken for different audiences. It is for this reason that the PCC wanted to introduce web chats as part of his engagement.
Since 2016, a number of web chats have been held in support of PCC engagement activity. These include the precept consultations, the Police and Crime Plan consultation and also recruitment drives for Independent Custody Visitors.
The number of participants has been encouraging and members of the public who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to speak with the PCC have been able to do so as a result of this tactic.
In January 2019, the webchat system was stopped by Dorset Police, due to the increase in costs from the provider. Although Dorset OPCC can use free facilities, these options do not come with the same level of options and can make for a less structured conversation. The OPCC Communications Department are now trialling two platforms as potential replacements.
The drive to re-establish engagement via webchat is driven by the feedback given to the OPCC by our previous webchat users. We have been told that many that ‘join’ the chat do so because they are unable to attend a public meeting in person, or simply prefer the convenience of being able to ‘be at home’ and find out more about policing in Dorset or raise a concern or ask a question of the PCC without leaving the house.
We want to make engaging with the PCC as accessible and welcoming as possible and we know that webchats give local people the opportunity to get involved in their community in a simple and convenient way.
The PCC has a statutory duty to obtain the views of the community about local policing, including a specific duty to obtain the views of victims of crime.
PCC surgeries enable the PCC to meet Dorset residents in confidence to listen to concerns they might have regarding policing, crime or community safety. PCC surgeries can also help identify themes or trends in public opinion, which can influence policing objectives or service delivery, commissioning and communications strategies, and gather opinion to inform future decisions.
Having offered these surgeries for several years, the PCC was keen that this process should not only continue, but be even more accessible – for that reason he wanted to ensure surgeries could also be held online.
PCC surgeries are held on a monthly basis at a variety of accessible venues and are now advertised on social media. Online surgeries will also be offered where circumstances allow. The PCC attends the surgery with a caseworker who helps facilitate the meeting, takes notes and records any actions identified as a result.
Surgeries are by appointment only, to ensure that the issues being raised relate to policing, crime or community safety, to enable any background research to be carried out and to ensure the PCC is fully briefed on the issue prior to the meeting.
The statistics for PCC Surgeries 2016 – 2019 (Jan to June 2019) are as follows:
2019 (Jan - Dec)
PCC Surgery Cases
PCC Surgery Attendees
PCC Surgery Days
Issues raised have been wide ranging and include anti social behaviour, police processes, community concern, theft, road safety, fraud, mental health, assisting with initiatives, hate crime, police community engagement, business crime, domestic abuse, child abuse, crimes against the church, stalking and harassment, bullying and harassment and sudden deaths.
One example of a surgery outcome is the PCC’s response to concerns raised about people with autistic spectrum disorders in police custody.
As with all detainees, people with autism or Asperger’s were being asked whether they had a mental illness when they were being booked into custody.
However, many said they did not, as they considered autism or Asperger’s to be a condition, rather than a mental illness. This potentially meant custody staff were not being made aware of information that would assist in providing safer and more appropriate management of detainees.
The questions asked in custody suites have now been altered to reduce this risk in future.
It is important that policing embraces new technology and technological advancements to improve the service it delivers to the public.
The PCC has invested heavily in this for Dorset Police – from behind the scenes case and record management systems, to mobile devices for officers and staff, body worn video and drones.
The public are increasingly used to carrying out transactions online now and policing should be no different. With the launch of a new Dorset Police website during the Commissioner’s term, online services and functionality have continued to develop and expand, expanding police accessibility beyond police stations and call centres.
The ‘do it online’ facility hosted via the Dorset Police website provides a range of options including:
The Ask NED service, which is a non-emergency directory provision, signposting members of the public to the correct agency for dozens of common issues.
Dorset Police have also launched Operation Snap to provide a secure online facility for drivers to submit video and photographic evidence of dangerous driving incidents they have witnessed.
All of this demonstrates the Commissioner’s backing for the Force to invest in new solutions to provide an enhanced service to the public and this is something that will continue to develop and grow over time
Building on specific initiatives completed during the first term of office, the PCC pledged to continue increasing police access, presence and availability within communities.
Melcombe Regis in Weymouth and Boscombe have been identified as specific priority areas by the PCC.
Police funding and resourcing has remained challenging throughout the term but the PCC has honoured his pledge to retain Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in Dorset.
More specifically, the PCC plays an active role on both the Boscombe Regeneration Partnership and the Melcombe Regis Board. Both bring key partners together to look at a range of issues relevant to each area – such as housing, economy, environment, health, crime and community safety – and develop sustainable problem-solving approaches to tackling them.
In addition, the PCC has provided funding towards both the Boscombe and Weymouth Community Safety Accreditation Schemes (CSAS). The CSAS scheme allows the Chief Constable to provide organisations and their employees with limited powers to assist the police.
The CSAS schemes in Boscombe and Weymouth have allowed additional patrols to take place, beyond what the police are able to deliver on their own, and have helped tackle anti-social behaviour and lower-level issues. More recently, the Commissioner has supported a further CSAS project in Poole as one of a range of measures implemented to tackle an increase in Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) in the area.
The PCC has also overseen the implementation of Neighbourhood Engagement Contracts (NECs) – setting out a number of minimum standards that the Chief Constable expects each Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) to deliver to their communities. Further information can be found here.
It is essential that police forces engage effectively with local communities to keep the public safe.
Good engagement helps the Force understand community needs, keep the public better informed about what officers and staff are doing and provides an opportunity to pass on advice about how communities can help prevent crime.
Successful engagement helps maintain the public’s trust and confidence and, in the words of the Chief Constable, ‘it is only with this relationship and knowledge of our communities’ that the Force will be able to deliver a quality service.
Members of the public who would like better engagement from local police officers regularly contact the PCC. This has become especially apparent following the government spending cuts, as well as the increased demand on Dorset Police.
So that a set of consistent standards could be applied across the county, the Chief Constable and PCC agreed to introduce a neighbourhood engagement contract.
The neighbourhood engagement contract outlines 10 minimum standards that the Chief Constable expects of each Neighbourhood Policing Team – these include face-to-face meetings, updating content on the Force website and social media presence.
The teams are required to produce a neighbourhood engagement plan and provide evidence that they are meeting the standards. These plans, and the supporting evidence, are scrutinised by a panel from the OPCC, which assesses the team’s performance against the 10 standards. A community panel is also in place so the teams can understand the views of the people they serve.
Plans have been assessed for the first time this year and the PCC is pleased to note the neighbourhood policing teams have supplied a great deal of compelling evidence in support of the process.
The assessment panel has highlighted improvements that can be made regarding publicising meetings and events more prominently and using the Dorset Alert platform. Examples of best practice have been shared with the Force and senior officers have committed to making these improvements as soon as possible.
To ensure complete transparency, each team has published their completed plant. These will be the subject of ongoing monitoring, development and scrutiny by the OPCC.
The combination of a wide amount of research, and Dorset Police having routine engagement with young people in educational settings, has meant that we continue to develop understanding of the issues affecting children and young people, in turn informing our approach.
Young people continue to be over-represented as both victims and offenders, with the Crime Survey of England and Wales, which included a survey of 10-15-year-olds, finding that in 2018/19 one in 10 had experienced at least one crime in the previous year.
NHS and other health research has highlighted that young people report disproportionate levels of cyberbullying with the associated impacts including social anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
The Safe Schools & Communities Team (SSCT) is a partnership between Dorset Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and Dorset Combined Youth Offending Service (DCYOS). It has a remit to prevent or reduce anti-social behaviour, crime and wrong-doing among children and young people and help keep them safe online.
SSCT is the main method for addressing key issues affecting our young people.
The team uses tailored methods for talking to young people, from five year olds in primary schools to teenagers.
Sessions look at the appropriateness of comments and photographs being viewed and shared, as well as the differences between an online ‘friend’ and a real friend. They encourage children to think about how to behave towards each other, what to do if they have bad experiences, and the importance of getting adults to help them.
With older children, issues such as privacy settings, responses to bullying, and appreciating the consequences of sharing content are further developed.
Specific programmes include Respect Yourself, which deals with Domestic Abuse, and A Night to Remember, which deals with alcohol related violent crime including sexual violence. Education is also provided around anti social behaviour, including offensive weapons and the law.
Child Sexual Exploitation
Education is provided to parents, children and professionals through a series of courses looking at issues including healthy and unhealthy relationships, grooming and how people can become exploited.
Drugs and Alcohol
Education is provided to children, parents and professionals looking at the risks and consequences of taking drugs and drinking alcohol, the law, and how and where to get help and support.
Preventing violent extremism
The team deliver a national programme designed to allow debate around the sensitive issues of extremism within communities. It provides a safe space for students to air grievances, debate matters that interest them and work through problem solving activities.
The PCC and Chief Constable have also both provided funding and support to SafeWise, an interactive and practical ‘skills for life’ approach to young people’s safety with centres in Bournemouth and Weymouth. Using full size streetscapes, education is provided on road, fire, water and home safety, crime prevention and what to do in emergencies.
The PCC has also funded a number of relevant projects through his Community Grant Scheme.
The PCC has made a concerted effort to engage with local business communities and fully understand the issues and challenges faced by them with regard to crime and community safety.
Upon re-election in 2016 he made a series of pledges relating to business crime, seeking to improve relationships and communication between businesses and the police, and implementing more effective responses to crime and incidents.
More specifically, this commitment recognises the specific threat posed by online crime and the need for a specific response to this significant, and growing, issue.
Under our other business crime commitments we have outlined how the Commissioner has worked with Dorset Police to improve the overall response to business crime, including the development of a new Business Crime Strategy and the implementation of more robust meeting and engagement arrangements, allowing for increased confidence and more effective information sharing.
This term of office has also seen the appointment of a dedicated Cyber Crime Protect and Prevention Officer within Dorset Police, providing a dedicated resource to inform and advise the public on effective ways to protect themselves online.
As part of the wider range of Cyber Crime resources produced by Dorset Police, specific guides for small businesses have been highlighted, including links to a free cyber security training package produced by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
The Dorset Police Cyber Crime Protect and Prevention Officer is also available to deliver free talks and presentations to small and medium enterprises, providing cyber security advice. A number of these sessions have taken place and the officer is keen to reach as many organisations as possible. On occasion, these sessions have been delivered in conjunction with the Commissioner’s own public engagements and the PCC continues to promote this resource when attending community groups and functions.
Advice, information and guidance is also provided through the Dorset Police Cyber Protect social media accounts – including updates on the latest scams and security concerns.
The OPCC-led business crime working group is currently working on the implementation of regular, structured seminars focused around specific topics and issues. It is anticipated that online crimes and fraud will feature significantly within these sessions and provide further opportunities to give tailored crime prevention advice.
The PCC has long been an advocate of volunteers and citizens in policing. This commitment underpins his support for the ongoing development of volunteering opportunities with his office and the Force.
The OPCC has successfully recruited and developed volunteering opportunities across the current PCC term of office.
Independent Custody Visiting (ICV) scheme
The office has continued to manage our ICV Scheme, providing vital scrutiny of the treatment of detainees in police custody. This has included recruiting and training members, including a specific push to recruit younger volunteers through targeted activity with Bournemouth University and local colleges.
The PCC has created a series of scrutiny panels to assist with his role in holding the police to account on behalf of the public. Current panels review issues around customer service, use of force, stop and search and out of court disposals and all include independent volunteers, often acting as chair. The OPCC continues to manage these panels, including member recruitment and training. More information can be found here and here.
To support our consultation and engagement activities we also work with a team of dedicated volunteers, without whom we would not be able to speak directly to large numbers of people at public events across the year. As our volunteers come from the community, this helps us to connect policing with the public – a core function of the PCC.
Police Cadet scheme
The OPCC took a lead role in forming the first ever Police Cadet scheme in Dorset before handing the project over to the Force. This included the recruitment of volunteer Cadet Leaders, a pool of diverse individuals with a broad range of skills, knowledge and experience. More information can be found here.
Through the Community Grant Scheme the PCC has provided funding to a wide variety of voluntary organisations to support projects that connect to our Police and Crime Plan objectives.
Volunteering also has a significant role to play within Dorset Police, although balancing the management and training of these volunteers against operational priorities remains a challenge
Special Constable and Police Support Volunteer numbers have remained fairly static across the term, but more emphasis is now placed on the amount and quality of time that can be given by those volunteers. The total hours completed by Police Support Volunteers has grown from 8,293 in 2016 to 9,994 in 2018. New volunteer roles have been created, including with the rural crime team and as Police Cadet leaders.
The Special Constabulary has worked in partnership with students from Bournemouth University to create the ‘Be More. Be Special’ recruitment campaign which has already seen an increase in applications from more diverse backgrounds. Retention rates for Specials have also increased across the term of office.
A new Citizens in Policing Group has been established, including representation from the OPCC, which will play a significant role in informing future activity in developing volunteering, including the growth of the Police Cadet scheme.
Community Speed Watch (CSW) is another area that has seen significant growth in volunteer participants.
This is a partnership between local volunteers and the police in areas where residents have highlighted speeding as a concern, and aims to reduce speed and cut the number of road traffic collisions. There are currently more than 60 CSW locations in Dorset, none of which would be possible without volunteers. The PCC continues to promote CSW to support his own road safety priorities.
Bobby van schemes – mobile units that provide home security, crime prevention advice and reassurance for vulnerable members of the community – operate across the UK.
Van operators visit people’s homes and undertake a range of activities, such as fitting new door and window locks, installing security lighting, and educating homeowners in practical ways they can help to prevent crime. Schemes differ from county to county, but bobby van operators can also undertake fire safety work, provide advice about fraud and cybercrime, and signpost vulnerable people to other agencies.
There is compelling evidence, from other schemes, that bobby vans can help reduce repeat burglary and re-victimisation. The PCC and Chief Constable announced the introduction of a Dorset scheme when setting out the 2019/20 Force budget.
The OPCC began to scope a Dorset scheme in late 2018, working with neighbouring forces to understand the equipment, training and skills required for the van operators. The OPCC was also keen to establish an efficient process for identifying those members of the public who would most benefit from the bobby van’s services.
There are a number of different models in existence across other force, but the charitable model was determined to be most appropriate for Dorset. With this in mind, trustees of the Safer Dorset Foundation charity were asked to consider a proposal. The trustees agreed, and have commissioned Dorset Police to provide a bobby van scheme for the county.
A new trustee, former Dorset Chief Constable Jane Stitchbury, has been appointed as a trustee of the Safer Dorset Foundation, given her skills and expertise in related areas.
The OPCC’s scoping work is now complete and the project has been formally handed over to the Force for implementation. The OPCC Chief Executive is a trustee of the charity, and will continue to assist with the implementation and monitoring of the Dorset project alongside the other trustees.
The scheme was launched in January 2020.