Firstly, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy New Year for 2024.
The past twelve months has been important for my office and for Wiltshire Police, as we welcomed a new Chief Constable. I believe her appointment has made a considerable impact on our capability to prevent and combat crime, and we will see further progress being made over the course of the next year.
Under Chief Constable Roper’s leadership, the necessary structural changes have been made to Wiltshire Police to enable more officers to be pushed towards front line policing. This has been supported by the recruitment of more police officers to take our total number past the 1,165 required by the Home Office to 1,188.
In November we officially opened our refurbished and greatly improved training facilities to ensure that all of our staff and officers have the best training available.
Work has been ongoing to complete a new community police station in Tidworth, which will open in the new year, and we will see the introduction of two new mobile police stations, which will increase police presence among our rural communities.
Through the co-ordination between all Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables in the south-west, we are making the most of our resources to tackle the issue of drugs gangs infiltrating our communities. Operation Scorpion has been a success and as a result, Wiltshire Police is now the top performing police force in England and Wales for county lines disruptions per head of capita.
However, we must guard against complacency, and make sure young people are diverted away from becoming involved in criminal activity.
Over the past year, in excess of half a million pounds from our Safer Streets funding and Community Action Fund has been granted to projects across Wiltshire and Swindon with the express aim of working with young people, in addition to the schemes we already fund.
My office has also funded the delivery of Blunt Truth workshops in schools across Swindon and Wiltshire, with more planned for 2024. These sessions teach young people about the consequences of carrying a knife and shows them what to do if a friend or relative is stabbed.
We have also employed Wiltshire and Swindon’s first Serious Violence Duty Co-ordinator, who will be key in ensuring a joined up approach between all public agencies in our combined efforts to tackle violent crime.
In 2023, my office committed more funding to victims of crime in Wiltshire. We have invested more than £750,000 in a specialist team focusing on investigating and preventing violence against women and girls (VAWG) and we have commissioned a new Independent Sexual Violence Advisory (ISVA) Service. We’ve also introduced listening circles to gain valuable insight and make the necessary changes to restore the trust and confidence victims should have within policing.
Our investment in our road policing team continues to be successful with over 6,000 drivers in Wiltshire referred to speed awareness courses, compared to 1,618 in 2022. Our ultimate aim must be to reduce speed and the network of Speed Indicator Devices (SIDs) is showing that this is beginning to happen in the locations where they’re installed, thanks to the co-ordination of our award-winning community speedwatch volunteer, Adrian Turnbull.
While Wiltshire Police remains within the Engage process, I am confident that we now have the right leadership and management processes in place not only to get us out of Engage in 2024 but also to turn Wiltshire Police into one of the best performing police forces in the country. The challenge for the Force, and my office, is not only to make Wiltshire safer but to ensure that all of our residents actually feel safer knowing that they have a police service that is focused on their protection and the enforcement of the law without fear or favour.
Our goal, as always, is to make Wiltshire a safer place to live and work and it is by doing so that we will win the trust and confidence of Wiltshire’s residents.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon