2022 - A year in review
As we head into a new year, I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on what has been achieved over the last year to work towards making Dorset the safest county. I’m delighted to be able to say that this year Dorset went up to sixth in the ratings for being one of the safest counties in England and Wales. Seeing us go up in the ratings was both validation for the work that is happening in the county and good news for the people of Dorset.
For my newsletter this week I would like to share with you more details on the work that has happened this year to keep us moving up the rankings. So, just like the 12 days of Christmas, here are the 12 highlights of 2022.
1. This year there has been a drop in ASB incidents when compared to previous years. Overall, the total number of ASB incidents, in the first four months of 2022 dropped by 8% compared to 2019 – pre-pandemic. Dorset Police have increased patrols in ASB hotspots, using intelligence from residents to guide their focus and I have attended meetings and talked to locals across the county including to help address concerns over ASB.
2. Earlier in the year, round two of the Operation Relentless Community Fund was launched and provided nearly £50,000 of funding to 12 new projects aimed at tackling ASB. My office also visited some of the previously funded projects and heard the difference the funding has made, with one beneficiary saying they have noticed that after attending funded sessions youngsters were turning away from ASB-related behaviour.
3. More recently, I launched the Fix the Future Community Fund which is providing funding to 9 projects across Dorset that reflect the needs of young people, giving them development opportunities and the chance to add value to their community. I look forward to sharing the success of these projects with you in the new year.
4. In April, Op Viper launched to target criminality, take drugs off our streets, share intelligence, and protect the vulnerable. Since then, Op Viper has been taking place each and every week, with a dedicated team using intelligence and enforcement to disrupt county lines and make Dorset a hostile place for those dealing drugs and bringing misery to communities. This year Op viper has seen members of drug dealing gangs put behind bars, large quantities of drugs seized and disrupted county lines. At a number of points in the year, the work of Op Viper has been further strengthened by the support of Op Scorpion – this brings five forces together and puts a ring of steel around the South West. The latest phase of which saw 70 arrests, more Class A and Class B drugs seized, and 649 drug disruptions.
5. Dorset Police have now recruited an extra 113 new officers through the National Uplift scheme, and I am pleased to say that we are well on track to reach our target of 166 by the end of March 2023. Priority 2 of my Police and Crime Plan is to make policing more ‘visible and connected’ and I know just how much residents want to see the police out and about in their town, in their village and in their community. The Uplift programme has already helped and will continue to help achieve that goal.
6. This year the Rural Crime Team have increased from just 3 team members to now having 14. The team have done some really impressive work recovering over a million pounds worth of stolen farm machinery and vehicles, investigating animal cruelty and puppy farms, and working jointly with neighbouring forces to conduct proactive patrols. I look forward to seeing what this new team can go onto achieve in 2023.
7. In September, my office worked alongside the Rural Crime Reduction Board to launch the Country Watch website, a one-stop-shop aiming to help rural residents find proactive advice and support if they are a victim of crime, find information on how to report crime and stay up-to-date with the latest rural news.
8. Back at the start of the year, my office established the Dorset Safer Business Partnership, a forum that brings Dorset Police, the business community and myself together to work to develop strategies to address business crime and businesses are noticing the difference, with one store manager noting a reduction in thefts of over £239k in the 12 months leading up to July 2022.
9. This year I have supported the Force joining the Home Office led Operation Soteria Bluestone, a national programme to improve outcomes in rape and serious sexual offence cases, such as better support for victims throughout the criminal justice process and seeing more cases go to court. This is an important step forward for Dorset and when combined with the work that my office fund via Victim Support, STARS Dorset and The You trust, it makes such a difference for those who need help and support when its most needed.
10. This year I have continued to raise awareness of the risk and dangerous of using illegal e-scooters. I met with Peter Bungay, Service User Voice Officer, for Guide Dogs and discussed are shared concerns over the issue of illegal e-scooters in Dorset. Again, this Christmas I ask you to think before you buy an e-scooter unless you want to run the risk of having it seized by the police and potentially being prosecuted for using it.
11. I am pleased to be able to report that dwelling burglaries have gone down by 17% and non-dwelling burglaries by 22.2%. This year I have also welcomed a commitment from Dorset Police to visit all victims of home burglaries. It’s vital that we increase public confidence and trust in policing and having the police respond to crimes, such as burglary is an important step forward. I am pleased that Dorset Police supported the national commitment, and I will ensure close monitoring of the same on behalf of the residents and communities of Dorset moving forward in 2023.
12. This year, the Dorset Police Cadet scheme has expanded to include another unit in Christchurch. I have enthusiastically supported the schemes expansion to give more young people the opportunity to be part of such an important scheme.
I hope you have found this short recap of the progress being made towards making Dorset the safest county informative and useful. I want to be able to say to you in a years’ time that Dorset is even further on the road to becoming the safest county but to ensure that all the good work that has been mentioned can be maintained we need to be able to keep up with rising costs. So, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to complete the 2022/23 Precept survey and let me know if you will support a £15 increase in the policing precept.
I wish you all a safe and happy festive season – a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner