Wiltshire Police say covid patrols increase public engagement

By Barrie Hudson - 29 October 2020

CommunityCrime

Proactive PCSO patrols allow Wiltshire Police to increase public engagement around covid restrictions, the force says.

Over the past month there has been an increase in the number of interactions, as well as verbal warnings, as officers stepped up work around the four Es – engage, explain, encourage and enforce.
Between 28 September and 25 October, officers have:
- Created 385 covid-19 logs, which are made up of phone calls and online reports about potential breaches. Of these, 28 were calls for assistance to help enforce face covering legislation.
- Recorded 155 interactions in which officers approached members of the public to engage, explain and encourage compliance. Of these, 100 related to not wearing a face covering, 54 related to large gatherings and one related to a failure to self-isolate.
- Issued 105 warnings. Of these, 13 were to businesses not complying with the regulations.
- Issued four fixed penalty notices. Two related to failure to self-isolate and two to people gathering in groups of more than six.
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills said the figures for the past month coincided with the introduction of targeted PCSO patrols and a more detailed recording system within the force.
He added: “It is important to recognise that this rise in interactions and warnings is largely down to the fact that we have recently introduced our targeted PCSO patrols, specifically designed to improve engagement with our communities and ensure we are able to respond swiftly to any concerns raised about people not adhering to the rules.
“We have also improved the ways we are recording these interactions, to make sure we are seeing an accurate picture of engagement and verbal warnings, and I anticipate that these figures will rise over coming weeks as we continue to reinforce these recording practices.
“Although we know that the vast majority of people have taken on board the Government’s restrictions and understand their importance, it is clear that there is a minority who are deliberately flouting the rules and are putting other members of the community at risk, and it is only right that we take action against them. 
"The risk of the virus continues to be prevalent in our communities and it is incumbent upon us all to play our part in stopping its further spread.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said it was no surprise that the pandemic had a significant impact on crime figures and policing, and the data reinforced understanding of how lockdown affected the force.
He added: “While we have naturally seen a drop in crimes such as shoplifting and burglary due to people staying at home, our officers had more capacity to carry out proactive work to tackle the issue of illegal drugs – so we saw a 37 per cent increase in drug offences.
“It is also clear that, despite a drop in crime during lockdown, which has had a big impact on these annual numbers, we have now almost returned to the same levels of demand we were seeing pre-Covid.
“The issue of domestic abuse is something which is also worrying us, as we know that this is an under-reported crime and is something which will have affected more and more people during the pandemic.
“This is something the force has been taking incredibly seriously, and I would urge anyone who reads this and needs help and support, to please contact the police – there is help out there, please don’t suffer in silence.”
Information and support relating  to domestic abuse can be found at https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/article/1132/Domestic-Abuse
 

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