“As you will be aware, October 1st saw the introduction of new government laws which make it illegal for anyone to smoke in vehicles with children present.
“Wiltshire Police is in full support of this new law – anything that aims to protect children from harm to their health is a good thing and we should be fully supportive of it. However, I believe this is a public health issue first and foremost, and therefore, it will not be a priority for the Force at a time of such austerity. This Force, like those across the country, will be taking an educational, advisory and non-confrontational approach when enforcing this new law. This means that members of the public can expect to receive warnings as opposed to fines for a three month grace period to allow public awareness and a high level of compliance to build.
“The hard-working and dedicated Roads Policing officers will of course prioritise serious collisions on the county’s roads over smoking in vehicles, and I believe the public would fully support this attitude.
“Youth engagement has been high on the agenda since I took over as Chief Constable back in June. I recently met with the Force’s Youth and Community Affairs Officer and Youth Engagement Sergeant, who like myself, share a passion to improve the Force’s engagement with children and young people, and enhance the opportunities available to them, including work experience within Wiltshire Police. Figures show that youngsters who participate in work experience are 43 per cent less likely to become NEAT (Not in Employment or Adult Training), have a 15 per cent higher chance of finding employment and earn up to 5 per cent more. This is an area I am committed to improving within the Force.
“Sexting – a subject often high on the media agenda and one which could easily be debated at length – has again been in the news recently after it emerged that a 14-year-old boy from another Force area who sent a naked ‘selfie’ to a classmate, will be on a police database for a decade. The incident was recorded as a crime of ‘making and distributing an indecent image’. As expected, children’s campaigners have jumped to this boy’s defence, arguing that children should not be ‘demonised for experimenting’.
“I am told by our Youth Engagement Officers that many young people opt to send images rather than engage in conversation as a way of flirting these days. Whether we like it or not, sexting is now commonplace amongst teenagers but it has led me to question whether or not we are criminalising a future tidal wave of young people, or is this new criminalisation of sexting enough to deter our teenagers? Only time will tell, but I do believe it is vital that we invest in educating the young people of Wiltshire by visiting schools to ensure they are aware of the consequences should they make the decision to send sexual images of themselves to their peers. Otherwise, it could result in having a very significant impact upon our operational capacity and capability at a time when we are already facing saving requirements which could be in excess of £10 million over the next three years.”