Survey shows Dorset is a safe place to be
Many of you will know that this summer, my office launched its annual Summer Safety Survey. After a year in office, I wanted to learn more about residents’ perception of policing in their community, where they live and work. It was important for me to check that their priorities remained similar to the surveys I conducted to produce the Police and Crime plan.
I wanted to know how ‘safe’ residents felt in their community, how ‘visible and connected’ they felt to Dorset Police and whether they thought Dorset Police were using their resources to best effect where they live.
2650 people shared their thoughts through the survey, and I’m delighted to say that 55.08% of survey participants said that they think Dorset is one of the safest counties in England and Wales. This gives us a baseline to build from. The survey also found that participants feel they are most likely to be affected by burglary, ASB and drug-related crimes. I hear what the people of Dorset are saying, and I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure you that all three of these crimes are priorities within my Police and Crime Plan and progress is being made in each of these areas of policing.
ASB has been a concern of Dorset residents since before I came into office. That is why within my first 100 days in office, I was pleased to see Dorset Police launch Operation Relentless to robustly tackle ASB across the county. Thanks to the dedicated work of Op Relentless, so far this year we have seen a drop in ASB incidents when compared to previous years. Overall, the total number of ASB incidents in quarter one of 2022/23 are down by 8% compared to 2019. Part of the work happening under Op Relentless has included the force increasing patrols in ASB hotspots, using intelligence from residents to guide their focus.
As part of the wider work of Operation Relentless, Dorset Police have been raising awareness of the different types of ASB and ensuring that residents know who to contact for help dealing with ASB-related issues. This work is something I support, and it has helped to ensure those affected by ASB can easily report issues and receive help faster. We will continue to raise awareness around ASB, particularly at times of the year when such incidents are more common, such as over the summer and around Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Burglary was also shown to be one of the top concerns of survey participants, therefore I’d like to take this moment to reaffirm my commitment to working with Dorset Police, partner agencies and residents to keep tackling this issue. I’d like to make it very clear that I understand the detrimental impact burglaries can have on victims. It is more than just having your possessions taken, it’s not feeling safe in your own home and feeling violated. That’s why, last week, I was pleased to see Dorset Police make a commitment to visit every victim of residential burglary.
Victim support is a priority of my Police and Crime Plan and it is an important part of the work being done around burglaries. In Dorset, we have the Bobby Van, a free service that can visit eligible victims of house burglary, and help upgrade security around their homes. I want to expand this successful scheme by increasing the number of vans and in turn prevent victims from being re-targeted.
Prevention is a key part of tackling burglary and in addition to the Bobby Van, it is my hope to work with non-statutory partners such as estate agents and developers to raise awareness of prevention tips, particularly at the point of moving home. It is my ambition to reduce the number of residential and business burglaries in Dorset, reduce repeat victims and increase positive outcomes so that everyone can feel safe in their homes.
I recognise the public’s high levels of concern about drugs in our communities. Policing has long been committed to pursuing offenders and disrupting supply chains, and the Force has been successfully going after county lines whose leaders are all too happy to take advantage of vulnerable people for profit.
In April this year Operation Viper launched in Dorset. A dedicated team using intelligence and enforcement to disrupt county lines and make the county a hostile place for those dealing drugs and bringing misery to communities. This September alone, 22 arrests were made under Op Viper, with the disruption caused to 41 drug lines.
At a number of points in the year, the work of Op Viper has been further strengthened by the support of Op Scorpion, which sees all 5 Police and Crime Commissioners in the South West come together with their police forces, Crimestoppers and the British Transport Police to carry out joint operations to robustly tackle drugs. This joined-up approach, which sees beyond county borders, puts a steel ring around the region, making it a hostile environment for drugs.
However, we cannot simply enforce our way of this situation. I am committed to working with Dorset Police and key partners – in particular health and social services – to ensure we have tough enforcement, effective treatment and to commission services and educational inputs that can help reduce the harm of drugs and combat addiction.
I hope that this short recap into each area has reassured you that your Police and Crime Commissioner and police force have heard your concerns and are working to tackle the crimes that affect you. Work is being done to confront ASB, burglary and drug-related crimes and we will continue to take robust action to tackle these issues.
If you want to find out more about the great work happening to tackle crime in Dorset and keep up to date with the crimes affecting your neighbourhood then sign up to Dorset Alert.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner