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Chief Constable fortnightly update to the Police and Crime Commissioner - 10 November 2023

Dear Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson,

I open this letter to you today reflecting on the wonderful event that we both attended this week where we celebrated the long service and exemplary work of some officers, staff and volunteers within the Force. Whilst Wiltshire Police is on an improvement journey, there is no doubt we have some incredibly dedicated, committed, and hardworking people who give of their best day in day out and who care deeply about the communities of Wiltshire. Some examples of the awards we presented included a Special Constable who has given 19 years of service to Wiltshire Police; a colleague who joined as a police cadet, became a police officer and upon retiring joined as a police staff member – totalling an incredible 55 years of service to the Force, and police officers whose actions have saved lives. I was also delighted to present three members of the public with an award for the incredible bravery and compassion they showed when they assisted an off-duty police officer in supporting a vulnerable individual at a time of significant crisis. I would like to thank our distinguished guests who supported in attendance at the event, Mr. Robert Floyd, Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Mr. Christopher Bromfield, Under Sheriff of Wiltshire and, of course, yourself. The support of the public, our partners and stakeholders to policing in our county is truly appreciated and we really couldn’t do it without you all.

The celebration of good standards is so very important but, conversely, it saddens me that we still have cause to tackle unacceptable standards in the Force too. This week we dismissed a Police Constable from Wiltshire Police following a gross misconduct hearing further to him acting in an inappropriate and sexualised manner to female colleagues whilst on duty. His actions were totally unacceptable and directly conflict with the culture we continue to embed within our organisation. Over the last five weeks I have spoken face to face with over 1,000 of my officers and staff where I have been exceptionally clear that I will not tolerate behaviour which does not align to the standards of professional behaviour and which do not reflect the fair, inclusive and respectful organisation that I am resolute Wiltshire Police will be. There is absolutely no place for inappropriate behaviour in Wiltshire Police.

I would like to update you on some outcomes of Safer Business Crime week which took place at the end of October. This was a week where we sought to raise awareness with retailers about the different types of business crime. Crime against a business can take many forms: from shoplifting or non-paying diners to staff theft and burglary from premises. The week of awareness focused on working with retailers to highlight the steps they could take to help safeguard and protect their businesses. Over the week, we saw officers visit 1,454 retailers across the county, had almost 300 businesses sign up to Business Watch and, in one of our Community Policing Teams alone, 461km of foot patrol conducted as the team visited and engaged with local businesses. I have no doubt that this work will have helped to safeguard businesses across the county from what can be a damaging and highly impactful type of crime and I am grateful for the work of my officers and staff over this valuable week of action. Of course, this work will continue to ensure we increase support to all our businesses.

In the last couple of weeks, we have dealt with an incident relating to another highly impactful issue – drugs. Following reports from a concerned member of public, officers attended a property in Royal Wootton Basset and, upon entry, discovered a cannabis grow of around 25 plants amounting to a street value of around £25,000. This is an incredible example of where community intelligence enables us to take swift and decisive action and I urge any members of the community with concerns about drugs or drug dealing in their local areas to come forward and report to us, or to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. Its only by working together that we can Keep Wiltshire Safe.

This week, and over the coming weeks, we will be increasing our prevention messaging around burglary. At this time of year, we sadly see a national increase in burglary offences. Over the coming days and weeks, we will be engaging closely with our communities both in person and across our social media and other channels to provide crime prevention and home security advice for keeping property safe, including vehicles. Burglary is hugely impactful, and our dedicated burglary team will continue to focus on identifying burglary series, trends and prolific offenders so we can seek out and hold to account the criminals who commit these terrible crimes. People deserve to feel safe in their homes and whilst out and about in our county and we will be relentless in our pursuit of bringing offenders to justice. This week we have focused our prevention messaging around the increase in theft of gold, and we have released a communication to the public to provide guidance in this regard.

As I close this letter to you today, I would like to note that this weekend marks the start of the wonderful celebration of Diwali. May I wish a joyous time for all our communities who observe this festival. I would also like to pause and reflect on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, which will be observed this weekend. This important and poignant weekend gives us the opportunity to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives so we can live ours. Over the weekend, my senior officers and I will be attending remembrance services across the county to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of so very many. We will remember them.

Kindest regards,

Catherine Roper

Chief Constable, Wiltshire Police


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