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Fortnightly update to the Police and Crime Commissioner – 10 May 2024

Dear Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson,

Congratulations on your re-election as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon. I was privileged to be at the PCC Election count at County Hall on Saturday to be able to congratulate you in person. Over the last year, our two offices have achieved a huge amount by working together collaboratively whilst you have held me to account for the delivery of your Police and Crime Plan. Together, we will further improve the policing service to our communities.

I would like to reflect on the tragic murder of Mikey Roynon. Mikey was a 16-year-old boy from Bristol who was fatally stabbed at a party in June 2023. Last week three young men, all aged 16, were sentenced in relation to this tragedy and, whilst this case occurred in Avon and Somerset, the stark reality is closer to home with one of the convicted offenders being from Wiltshire. This is a horrific and incomprehensible loss and my deepest condolences remain with Mikey’s family. 

One of my key operational priorities is tackling violence and I continue to be significantly concerned about the rise in knife crime. From a national perspective, the latest Office of National Statistics showed that knife-enabled crime recorded by the police in the year ending December 2023 increased by 7% (49,489 offences) compared with the year ending December 2022 (46,153 offences). Locally, we have seen an increase of 2 per cent in the same period, with 305 offences taking place. One knife crime is one too many.

Next week ‘Operation Sceptre’ takes place. This is a focused week which will see initiatives delivered across the country to tackle knife crime, including working with our communities to explore its causes and highlight its impact. We have a huge amount of activity taking place across the Force, including weapons sweeps, test purchasing operations, school visits and talks by our officers working alongside specialist charities on education and support, and the promotion of the permanent knife surrender bins we have around the county. This is such an important week of awareness raising, prevention and enforcement activity to help educate on the dangers of carrying a knife or bladed article and the harm that people are putting both themselves and others in when they do so.

In terms of other operational updates, Wiltshire Police has secured some significant judicial outcomes which I would like to highlight. 

  • Recently, a man appeared at court where he received a significant custodial sentence following a campaign of fraud against his grandparents whereby he manipulated them into giving him over £380,000. This is a shocking and heartless crime and I am pleased that, working alongside the CPS, we were able to bring this offender to justice. Fraud accounts for over 40% of overall crime in England and Wales, yet we know also that it is largely unreported. 

  • I would urge anyone who believes they are or have been a victim of fraud to report it – either to the police via our online service or by contacting Action Fraud, the UK’s reporting centre for fraud or cybercrime. Fraud is a harmful crime which can leave long lasting psychological and financial impacts – it is really important we understand its true scale in our communities. The public can read more about types of fraud and how to get advice on the Wiltshire Police website.

  • A man was jailed for three months last week for driving whilst disqualified, driving without insurance and excess speed. He was caught by our Roads Policing Team doing over 100mph on the M4 with six passengers in his vehicle, including a six year old girl, none of whom were wearing seatbelts. This is truly shocking and demonstrates a clear disregard for the safety of his passengers and the wider public. His actions could have had catastrophic outcomes. Speeding can kill or change lives in a devasting way and it is a major factor in traffic deaths and injuries. I would like to use this letter today to reinforce to anyone who commits driving offences that, if you are caught speeding or driving dangerously on our roads, we will bring the full weight of policing powers against you and you will be brought to justice. 

  • A prolific burglar was sentenced to 46 weeks imprisonment last week for stealing charity boxes from shops in Chippenham, Warminster and Bradford on Avon. Thanks to intelligence from members of the public and from those working within the stores, we were able to swiftly arrest and charge the man to ensure justice was secured. This once again shows the huge value of community intelligence and I thank all those involved in helping us catch this prolific offender.

  • I would also like to address concerns regarding our call handling. Wiltshire Police was recently reported as having extremely poor 999 call answer rates. I can understand how this will have affected our communities. 

    Our current process includes a short verbal handover period with BT prior to receipt into our Control Room. This results in a delay to our response. We have invested in a new system that will remove this handover and this has proven to improve the service of other forces that use it.

    I know has impacted upon the service we provide to our communities. I will keep you updated as the new technology is introduced and the resultant improvements are made.

    Finally, next week is the next Police Performance Oversight Group meeting in London where I will be providing Wiltshire Police’s latest update against its Engage status. As I have after each of these meetings, I will provide a public update shortly afterwards.

    Kindest regards to you,

    Catherine Roper

    Chief Constable, Wiltshire Police

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