‘Use Your Voice’, an online survey open to all residents, was carried out late last year and the information gained was used to inform the key priorities in PCC Philip Wilkinson’s police and crime plan.
Nearly 3,000 people in Wiltshire responded to questions about their confidence in Wiltshire’s policing service, trust in the police force, safety perceptions and the main issues they wanted to be tackled by Wiltshire Police.
The analysis shows an overwhelming majority of respondents highlighting drug use and drug dealing in the community as the biggest areas of concern, with drug-related anti-social behaviour also high on the list.
Feedback from Wiltshire’s Youth Commission survey, which asked similar questions of more than 1,200 young people, also informed the plan, as well as operational policing advice from the Chief Constable, as well as considering national policing priorities and threat, harm and risk assessments.
This was alongside a series of Focus Group sessions made up of local MPs and councillors, different faith groups, members of Wiltshire Police, representatives of charities, education settings, the probation service, and service providers who deal with offenders, vulnerable people and victims -all consulted on behalf of the community.
Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson said: “Since becoming Police and Crime Commissioner, I have found it surprising how much a person’s experience and perception of their policing service can differ from one resident to the next, even if they live in the same area.
“While there are the obvious priorities that come with the highest threat, harm and risk, there are also those that matter to our residents and affect the lives of them and their families on a daily basis.
“The feedback, alongside the draft plan consultation and focus group sessions proved invaluable in re-establishing those goalposts and ensuring people’s actual experiences influenced the policing priorities for the next three years.”
A large number of respondents wanted to see the PCC’s Office focus on early intervention schemes as well as on safer streets initiatives, which are already being implemented in Swindon after a successful joint bid with Swindon Borough Council for extra government funding.
Mr Wilkinson agreed with the public’s view that preventing crimes from happening was a lot better than dealing with the aftermath but said that residents should be aware the survey analysis was from feedback gathered eight months ago and work had already started on delivery.
He added: "The Chief Constable and I are on the same page - we want to deliver a policing service that meets the needs of its communities and makes Wiltshire a safer place to live and work.
“To be ahead of the game we need to ensure proactive policing and community safety initiatives that prevent crime from happening in the first place. This has included the introduction of the Youth Commission to ensure that the views of young people are heard and reflected in police and crime matters.
“As the old adage says, prevention is always better than cure. Ultimately fewer crimes mean fewer victims and that’s absolutely the place that I want Wiltshire Police to be in.”
Recommendations from the survey included further consultations to gauge public confidence in Wiltshire Police as well as carrying out further research into why crime is underreported in Wiltshire.
You can see the full results of the Use Your Voice Survey here. You can read the Youth Commission’s recommendations, informed by its survey of young people, here.