SURREY’S Police and Crime Commissioner has been visiting communities around the county to discuss the policing issues that matter most to residents.
Lisa Townsend regularly speaks at meetings in Surrey’s towns and villages, and in the past fortnight has addressed packed halls in Thorpe, alongside Runneymede’s Borough Commander James Wyatt, Horley, where she was joined by Borough Commander Alex Maguire, and Lower Sunbury, which was also attended by Sergeant Matthew Rogers.
This week, she will speak at the Merstham Community Hub in Redhill on Wednesday, March 1 between 6pm and 7pm.
The poll will close at 12noon on this Monday, January 16. Residents are being asked if they’d support a small increase of up to £1.25 a month in council tax so policing levels can be sustained in Surrey.
One of Lisa’s key responsibilities is to set the overall budget for the Force. This includes determining the level of council tax specifically raised for policing in the county, which is known as the precept.
Three options are available in the survey – an extra £15 a year on an average council tax bill, which would help Surrey Police maintain its current position and look to improve services, between £10 and £15 extra a year, which will allow the Force to keep its head above water, or less than £10, which would likely mean a reduction in service to communities.
The Force is funded by both the precept and a grant from central government.
This year, Home Office funding will be based on the expectation that Commissioners around the country will increase the precept by an extra £15 a year.
Lisa said: “We’ve already had a good response to the survey, and I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to have their say.
“I’d also like to encourage anyone who hasn’t yet had time to quickly do so. It takes just a minute or two, and I’d love to know your thoughts.
‘Good news stories’
“Asking residents for more money this year has been an extremely difficult decision.
“I am well aware that the cost of living crisis is impacting every household in the county. But with inflation continuing to rise, a council tax increase will be necessary just to allow Surrey Police to maintain its current position. Over the next four years, the Force must find £21.5million in savings.
“There are many good news stories to tell. Surrey is one of the safest places to live in the country, and progress is being made in areas of concern for our residents, including the number of burglaries that are being solved.
“We are also on track to recruit almost 100 new officers as part of the government’s national uplift programme, meaning more than 450 extra officers and operational staff will have been brought into the Force since 2019.
“However, I don’t want to risk taking a step backwards in the services we provide. I spend much of my time consulting with residents and hearing about the issues that matter most to them, and I’d now ask the Surrey public for their continued support.”
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner works with the Sexual Assault and Exploitation Board to fund services used by The Solace Centre, including Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre and the Surrey and Borders Partnership.
She said: “Convictions for sexual violence in Surrey and the wider UK are shockingly low – fewer than four per cent of survivors will see their abuser convicted.
“That is something that has to change, and in Surrey, the Force is dedicated to bringing many more of these criminals to justice.
“However, those who aren’t ready to disclose offences to the police can still access all of The Solace Centre’s services, even if they book anonymously.
‘DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE’
“Those who work at the SARC are on the frontlines of this terrible battle, and I’d like to thank them for everything they do to support survivors.
“I would urge anyone suffering in silence to come forward. They’ll find help and kindness, both from our officers in Surrey if they do decide to speak to the police, and from the team here at the SARC.
“We will always treat this crime with the utmost seriousness it deserves. Men, women and children who are suffering are not alone.”
The SARC is funded by Surrey Police and NHS England.
Detective Chief Inspector Adam Tatton, from the Force’s Sexual Offences Investigation Team, said: “We are deeply committed to getting justice for victims of rape and sexual violence whilst recognising how difficult it can be for victims to come forward.
“If you have been the victim of rape or sexual violence, please contact us. We have dedicated trained officers, including Sexual Offence Liaison Officers, to support you throughout the investigative process. If you aren’t ready to speak to us, the incredible staff at the SARC are also there to help you.”
Vanessa Fowler, deputy director of specialised mental health, learning disability/ASD and health and justice at NHS England, said: “NHS England commissioners enjoyed the opportunity to meet Dominic Raab on Friday and to reconfirm their close working relationship with Lisa Townsend and her team.”
Last week, Rape Crisis England and Wales launched a 24/7 Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Line, which is available to anyone aged 16 and over who has been affected by any kind of sexual violence, abuse or harassment at any time in their life.
Mr Raab said: “I’m proud to support Surrey SARC and encourage the survivors of sexual assault and abuse to make full use of the services they are offering locally.
“Their local programs will be reinformed by the national 24/7 Support Line for victims that, as Justice Secretary, I launched this week with Rape Crisis.
“That will provide victims with vital information and support whenever they need it, and give them the confidence in the criminal justice system that they need to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.”
The SARC is available free of charge for all survivors of sexual assault regardless of their age and when the abuse took place. Individuals can choose whether they wish to pursue a prosecution or not. To book an appointment, call 0300 130 3038 or email email@example.com
The Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre is available on 01483 452900.
Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend has launched a public survey asking for residents’ views on how Surrey Police respond to non-emergency calls on the 101 non-emergency number.
League tables published by the Home Office show that Surrey Police is one of the best forces at quickly answering 999 calls. But recent staff shortages in the police Contact Centre have meant that calls to 999 have been prioritised, and some people have experienced long waits for calls to 101 to be answered.
It comes as Surrey Police consider measures to improve the service the public receive, such as extra staffing, changes to processes or technology or reviewing the different ways that people can get in touch.
Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “I know from speaking to residents that being able to get hold of Surrey Police when you need them is really important to you. Representing your voice in policing is a key part of my role as your Commissioner, and improving the service that you receive when contacting Surrey Police is an area that I’ve been paying close attention to in my conversations with the Chief Constable.
“That’s why I am really keen to hear about your experiences of the 101 number, whether you have called it recently or not.
“Your views are needed to inform the decisions that Surrey Police take to improve the service you receive, and it is vital that I understand that ways that you would like me to carry out this role in setting the police budget and scrutinising Force performance.”
The survey will run for four weeks until the end of Monday, 14 November. Results of the survey will be shared on the Commissioner’s website and will inform improvements to 101 service from Surrey Police.
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey has said mental health care must improve to allow officers to return their focus to crime.
Lisa Townsend said police forces across the country are increasingly being asked to intervene when people are in crisis, with between 17 and 25 per cent of officers’ time spent on incidents related to mental health.
On World Mental Health Day (Monday 10 October), Lisa joined a panel of experts at ‘The Price We Pay For Turning Away’ conference which was organised and hosted by Heather Phillips, the High Sheriff of Greater London.
Alongside speakers including Mark Lucraft KC, the Recorder of London and Chief Coroner of England and Wales, and David McDaid, an Associate Professorial Research Fellow at The London School of Economics, Lisa told of the impact acute mental ill-health has on policing.
She said: “The lack of adequate provision in our communities for those struggling with mental illness has created a nightmarish scenario for both police officers and the most vulnerable people in our society.
“It’s an issue of huge concern to our over-stretched officers, who are doing their very best every day to keep their communities safe.
“Unlike doctor’s surgeries, council services or community health outreach programmes, police forces are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We know that 999 calls to help someone in distress tend to spike as other agencies close their doors for the evening.”
Many forces in England and Wale have their own street triage teams, which unite mental health nurses with police officers. In Surrey, a committed officer leads the force’s response to mental health, and every call centre operator has received dedicated training to identify those in distress.
However, Lisa – who is the national lead for mental health and custody for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) – said the burden of care should not be falling to police.
“There’s no doubt at all that our officers up and down the country are doing a truly outstanding job of supporting people in crisis,” Lisa said.
“I am aware that health services are under enormous strain, particularly following the pandemic. However, it concerns me that police are increasingly seen as an emergency branch of social and health services.
“The cost of that perception is now too heavy for officers and those in need of help to bear any longer. We should not be asking our hard-pressed police teams to serve as healthcare practitioners.
“It isn’t their role, and despite their excellent training, they don’t have the expertise to do the job.”
Heather Phillips, who founded prison charity Beating Time, said: “My role as High Sheriff is to promote the peace, wellbeing and prosperity of Greater London.
“The crisis in mental health care is, I believe, undermining all three. Part of my role is to support the justice services. It’s been a privilege to give them a platform to be heard on this important issue.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, Lisa Townsend, has secured almost £1million in Government funding to provide a package of support for young people to help combat violence against women and girls in the county.
The sum, granted by the Home Office’s What Works Fund, will be spent on a series of projects designed to build self-confidence in children with the aim of enabling them to live safe and fulfilled lives. Reducing violence against women and girls is one of the key priorities in Lisa’s Police and Crime Plan.
At the heart of the new programme is specialist training for teachers delivering Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education at every school in Surrey via Surrey County Council’s Healthy Schools scheme, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of pupils.
Teachers from Surrey schools, as well as key partners from Surrey Police and domestic abuse services, will be given additional training to support students and reduce their risk of becoming either victim or abuser.
Pupils will learn how their sense of worth can shape the course of their lives, from their relationships with others to their achievements long after leaving the classroom.
The training will be supported by Surrey Domestic Abuse Services, the YMCA’s WiSE (What is Sexual Exploitation) programme and the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC).
Funding will be in place for two-and-a-half years to enable the changes to become permanent.
Lisa said her office’s latest successful bid will help end the scourge of violence against women and girls by encouraging young people to see their own value.
She said: “Perpetrators of domestic abuse inflict devastating harm in our communities, and we must do everything we can to end the cycle before it can begin.
“That is why it’s brilliant news that we’ve been able to secure this funding, which will join the dots between schools and services.
“The aim is prevention, rather than intervention, because with this funding we can ensure greater unity across the whole system.
“These enhanced PSHE lessons will be delivered by specially-trained teachers to help support young people across the county. Students will learn how to value their physical and mental health, their relationships and their own wellbeing, which I believe will benefit them throughout their lives.”
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner has already allocated around half of its Community Safety Fund to protect children and young people from harm, strengthen their relationships with police and provide help and advice when needed.
In her first year in office, Lisa’s team secured more than £2million in extra Government funding, much of which was allocated to help tackle domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking.
Detective Superintendent Matt Barcraft-Barnes, Surrey Police’s strategic lead for violence against women and girls and domestic abuse, said: “In Surrey, we have made a commitment to create a county that is safe and feels safe. To do this, we know that we must work closely with our partners and local communities to address the issues that matter most, together.
“We know from a survey we conducted last year there are areas of Surrey where women and girls do not feel safe. We also know many incidents of violence against women and girls are not reported as they are considered ‘everyday’ occurrences. This cannot be. We know how offending which is often deemed less serious can escalate. Violence and attacks against women and girls in any form cannot be the norm.
“I am delighted that the Home Office has awarded this funding for us to deliver a whole-system and coordinated approach that will help prevent violence against women and girls here in Surrey.”
Clare Curran, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “I’m delighted that Surrey will be receiving funding from the What Works Fund.
“The funding will go towards vital work, allowing us to deliver a range of support to schools around personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education that will make a huge difference to the lives of students and teachers.
“Not only will teachers from 100 schools receive additional PSHE training, but the support will also lead to the development of PSHE Champions within our wider services, who will be best able to support schools appropriately using prevention and trauma informed practice.
“I’d like to thank my Office for their work in securing this funding, and to all the partners involved in supporting the training.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey Lisa Townsend has published her Annual Report for 2021/22 which looks back at her first year in office.
The report reflects on some of the key announcements from the last 12 months and focuses on the progress made by Surrey Police against the objectives in the Commissioner’s new Police and Crime Plan that include reducing violence against women and girls, ensuring safer Surrey roads and strengthening the relationships between Surrey Police and residents.
It also explores how funding has been allocated to commission services through funds from the PCC’s office, including over £4million to projects and services which help survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence and other projects in our communities which help tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour and rural crime, and an extra £2m in government funding awarded to help strengthen our support to these services.
The report looks ahead to future challenges and opportunities for policing in the county, including the recruitment of new officers and staff funded by the Government’s uplift programme and those funded by the Commissioner’s increase to the local council tax to improve the service that residents receive.
Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “It has been a real privilege to serve the people of this fantastic county and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it so far. This report is a good opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved since I was elected in May last year and to tell you a little about my ambitions for the future.
“I know from speaking to the Surrey public that we all want to see more police on the streets of our county tackling those issues that matter most to our communities. Surrey Police are working hard to recruit an extra 150 officers and operational staff this year with a further 98 to come in the year ahead as part of the Government’s uplift programme which will give our policing teams a real boost.
“In December, I launched my Police and Crime Plan which was firmly based on the priorities that residents told me they felt were the most important such as the safety of our local roads, tackling anti-social behaviour and ensuring the safety of women and girls in our communities which I have strongly championed during my first year in this post.
“There have also been some big decisions to take, not least on the future of the Surrey Police Headquarters which I have agreed with the Force will remain at the Mount Browne site in Guildford rather than the previously planned move to Leatherhead. I believe it’s the right move for our officers and staff and will provide the best value for money for the Surrey public.
“I would like to thank everyone who has been in contact over the last year and I am keen to hear from as many people as possible about their views on policing in Surrey so do please keep getting in touch.
“My thanks go to all those who work for Surrey Police for their efforts and achievements over the last year in keeping our communities as safe as possible. I would also like to thank all the volunteers, charities, and organisations we have worked with and my staff in the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for their help over the last year.”
Reducing serious violence, tackling cyber crime and improving victim satisfaction are just some of the topics that will be on the agenda as the Police and Commissioner for Surrey Lisa Townsend holds her latest Public Performance and Accountability meeting with the Chief Constable this September.
Public Performance and Accountability Meetings streamed live on Facebook are one of the key ways the Commissioner holds the Chief Constable Gavin Stephens to account on behalf of the public.
The Chief Constable will give an update on the latest Public Performance Report and will also face questions on the Force’s response to the National Crime and Policing Measures set out by the Government. The priorities include reducing serious violence including murder and other homicides, disrupting ‘county lines’ drug networks, reducing neighbourhood crime, tackling cyber crime and improving victim satisfaction.
Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “When I took office in May I promised to keep residents’ views at the heart of my plans for Surrey.
“Monitoring the performance of Surrey Police and holding the Chief Constable accountable is central to my role, and it is important to me that members of the public can get involved in that process to help my office and the Force to deliver the best possible service together.
“I especially encourage anyone with a question on these or other topics they would like to know more about to get in touch. We want to hear your views and will be dedicating space in every meeting to answer the questions that you send us.”
Haven’t got time to watch the meeting on the day? Videos on each topic of the meeting will be made available on our Performance page and will be shared across our online channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Nextdoor.
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey Lisa Townsend has paid tribute to the extraordinary work of policing teams across the county after yesterday’s funeral of Her late Majesty The Queen.
Hundreds of officers and staff from Surrey and Sussex Police were involved in a huge operation to ensure the funeral cortege passed safely through North Surrey on The Queen’s final journey to Windsor.
The Commissioner joined mourners at Guildford Cathedral where the funeral was live streamed while Deputy Commissioner Ellie Vesey-Thompson was at Runnymede where crowds gathered to pay their last respects as the cortege travelled through.
Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend said: “Whilst yesterday was an immensely sad occasion for many people, I was also incredibly proud of the part our policing teams played in Her late Majesty’s final journey to Windsor.
“An enormous amount has been going on behind the scenes and our teams have been working around the clock together with our partners across the county to ensure the safe passage of the Queen’s funeral cortege through North Surrey.
“Our officers and staff have also been working hard to ensure day-to-day policing has continued in our communities across the county to keep everybody safe.
“Our teams have being going above and beyond over the last 12 days and I want to say a heartfelt thanks to each and every one of them.
“I send my sincere condolences to the Royal Family and I know the loss of Her late Majesty will continue to be felt in our communities in Surrey, the UK and across the globe. May she rest in peace.”
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and offer our heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family at this incredibly difficult time.”
“We will remain forever grateful for Her Majesty’s unwavering dedication to public service and she will remain an inspiration to us all. The Platinum Jubilee celebrations this year were a fitting way to pay tribute to the incredible 70 years of service she gave us as the longest serving monarch and Head of the Church of England in British history.”
“This is an incredibly sad time for the nation and her loss will be felt by many in our communities in Surrey, the UK and across the world. May she rest in peace.”