November sees changes to the way Wiltshire Police investigates business related crime in Swindon town centre.
With significant budget cuts expected to be announced as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review this month, it is absolutely essential that we continue to look closely at ways in which we can operate in a more efficient and cost-effective way. We cannot be expected to run the same service in exactly the same way during times of such austerity. It just isn’t possible.
The new process, introduced yesterday (1st November 2015), removes the need for our front line officers to always attend in person to collect CCTV footage from a business premises when the offender is no longer on scene. Instead, the caller will speak with a trained investigator and important digital data will be streamed directly to us. This will save time, ensure new technology is used to its full potential, while enabling our community officers to spend more time walking the beat, preventing crime and keeping the public safe. I am hopeful that, despite some media headlines, the public will understand and support this decision. Times are changing and we now need to be much more imaginative and more creative than we ever have been and as a result, we may make changes the public may not agree with all of the time but rest assured, this has not been a decision we have made lightly. I would like to reassure the community that if an offender is apprehended or detained, or if someone is harmed, or there remains a continued risk, my officers will attend the scene as soon as possible and offer as much professional support as they can while carrying out a thorough investigation.
In an ideal world, there would be no further changes to policing in Wiltshire for the foreseeable future. However, we have to be realistic. If we want to be the best we can be we must continue to reform. A recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) praised the Force for its commitment to continuously improving services and robust financial management. This is not an excuse to become complacent and it is vital that we continue to look at new ways in which we can improve every area of our service. However, I am particularly proud of this latest outcome – it is an extremely difficult time for police forces across the country so to be recognised for improving services for the public despite the challenging financial backdrop is a huge achievement. It wouldn’t be possible, of course, without the dedication, hard work and determination of our officers, staff and volunteers who continue to amaze me on a day-to-day basis as they go above and beyond their duties. Let’s not be in any doubt every policy, process and structure will have to change if the force is to come anywhere near being able to withstand austerity. We are exploring different styles and approaches to policing so that we are able to maintain local policing at the heart of what we do but it is going to be very challenging to say the least. We will have to stop doing things and we will have to rely more on the public helping us reduce and prevent crime and have a greater expectation on partners to work more closely with us than ever before.
I have an important role to play in maintaining the morale of my dedicated and professional officers, staff and volunteers at a time of such austerity, and I will do all that I can to push back on unfounded public criticism when I know what a commendable job they do, day in, day out, in difficult circumstances. If you have any concerns about the service, then please direct them at the Commissioner or I, and we will respond accordingly. There has never been a greater need for a strong leadership and to listen and engage more effectively, while making best use of technology and resources. The Commissioner and I will be having conversations with the public in the coming weeks and months as we determine the best way forward. We will, however, do everything we can to continue to prevent crime and protect the public.
Please support us as we continue to adapt.