The threat of terrorism is something which in recent years has been pushed to the top of the policing agenda. It is a subject which is always in officer and staff minds as they go about their “business as usual” duties preventing crime and protecting the public.
The recent tragic events in Belgium and Paris have really brought home the horrors of these types of attacks, as well as the importance of the counter-terrorism work our police forces and security agencies are carrying out. It is my view the best way to deter, prevent or reduce the chances of a terrorist attack is to continue to foster meaningful and trusting relationships within our local communities.
Community policing is the bedrock and foundation of British policing and is something we should protect as much as we are able.
Our thoughts are of course with the victims of these two recent attacks, and their families. However, I would also like to commend all the law enforcement officers and emergency services involved with the initial response and the more long-term work to tackle the threat of terrorism. I, like many others, witnessed the atrocities on the television and it vividly brought home the devastation these perpetrators of inhumane criminality can cause.
We are lucky that we live in a safe county here in Wiltshire. Although people may have worries about terrorism as a global or national issue, thankfully it is not something which impacts on people as they go about their day-to-day lives.
However it is important not to become complacent and in these modern times it is incumbent upon us all to remain vigilant and alert and not be reluctant to report suspicious activity however trivial it may seem. Please be assured we will respond to the information and intelligence you are able to offer as sensitively and effectively as we can.
Our Prevent team here in Wiltshire have been doing fantastic work to tackle extremism at the root and stop people becoming radicalised in the first place, an important part of that community work I mentioned above.
Wiltshire Police officers and staff are also regularly taking part in counter-terrorism training exercises and, as the chair for the Local Resilience Forum, I am always impressed by the detailed and challenging exercising and scenario training our partners and other agencies participate in. It is impossible to predict how the emergency services and our local authority colleagues will respond to a crisis or critical incident but I am confident we are as prepared as we reasonably can be during these uncertain times.
We police by consent in this country and that is something we should be proud of. I believe we should also be committed to retaining a predominantly routinely unarmed service but with the proviso that we equip our staff to the level and degree to support unarmed colleagues so we are realistically able to respond to the emerging threats that exist in this country. I therefore welcome plans by the Home Secretary to make a commitment to enable the service to increase recruitment of firearms officers to ensure that everything is being done to support our colleagues working on the frontline.
All our officers and frontline staff, but particularly armed response officers, make difficult decisions, sometimes under high-pressure, stressful circumstances. They deserve to have backing from the top, and it is my personal aim to make sure all Wiltshire officers and staff feel confident that they will get the support they need from me and other senior officers as they go about their work.