State of policing report is 'not a fair representation'
Wiltshire Police has re-asserted its commitment to protecting the public and investigating crime, following the publication of the State of Policing report.
The report, published by Sir Thomas Winsor, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, suggests a lack of adequate planning by senior police leaders across the country to meet future demand for service in England and Wales.
The HMICFRS report also challenges forces to examine a range of issues including the crisis in child and adolescents mental health services, the rise in serious violent crime and the need to ensure the physical and mental welfare of officers and staff.
However, in all areas that Wiltshire Police has been inspected in by HMICFRS over the last 12 months, the Force has been graded as Good across the board.
In response to the HMICFRS report today, Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon said: "This is a national report on the state of policing and is not a fair representation of policing in Wiltshire. For instance, a Crown Prosecution Service report last week demonstrated there were no disclosure failings within Wiltshire, which doesn't correspond with the national picture painted in this report.
"Wiltshire Police is held to account by me, not HMICFRS. My annual report due to be published soon will provide the detailed analysis of how policing has performed in Wiltshire over the past 12 months and my plans for the future.
"As ever, this is grounded on the professional expertise of the Chief Constable and his leadership team. For the report to suggest that all Chief Constables and police leaders are failing to plan properly and thereby compromising public safety is insulting and plain wrong."
Speaking specifically about the Force Management Statements, which police forces are obliged to provide to show how they forecast demand, Mr Macpherson added: "These are not ground breaking. They are a bureaucratic burden that our already stretched forces could do without."
One area that the State of Policing report picked up on as an area of national concern was the rise in violent crime.
Mr Macpherson said he acknowledged this is an area the public are worried about and said he wanted to reassure people in Swindon and Wiltshire that he was keeping a close eye on how the Force is responding to this issue.
He said: "Any increase in crime is concerning and whilst improved crime recording has played a role, it would be naïve not to acknowledge the wider societal problems and culture contributing to this increase.
"I have asked for more preventative measures and I know that the Force does a lot of work on knife crime, including visiting schools to educate children on the consequences of carrying weapons. Just this week, I attended Junior Good Citizens in Swindon where hundreds of young people were educated on the risks of carrying a knife"
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said the fact that Wiltshire Police had been graded as Good in all areas demonstrated the Force's consistency in terms of the service it provides for its communities and victims of crime.
He said: "It is no secret that modern policing is going through challenging times, as we try to cope with a rising, complex demand on our services.
"However, we have been clear with the public that this has meant we are having to adjust our priorities to make sure we continue to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
"This includes those with mental health problems, children at risk of exploitation and victims of serious crime.
"We know that we must not be complacent and our aim now is to build on our strong foundations and make sure we continue to improve on our processes and outcomes."
He added: "This report also highlights the importance of ensuring the welfare of our police officers and staff, something that we are passionate about in Wiltshire and continue to be committed to.
"The recent events in Salisbury have highlighted the importance of this even further alongside the need for us to provide support for not only physical injuries, but also the mental strain that this job can have on us.
"I know the general public will join me in acknowledging the tremendous hard work and commitment that my officers and staff show day-in-day out when they spend their shifts caring for, protecting and supporting the people of Wiltshire."
Wiltshire Police are running a campaign over the summer to raise awareness of some of the hidden demands in the Force beyond visible policing, including mental health and child sexual exploitation.
Angus Macpherson added: "Demand and pressures within the police are now more diverse than ever before and no longer are we only responding to crime, for example around 25% of police time is now spent responding to mental health related incidents."