Crime and fear of crime can have a long-lasting detrimental impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. I am therefore committed to doing everything possible to protect children and adults from harm, placing a firm focus on understanding the experiences of victims and practitioners, listening to their voices and ensuring that feedback is acted upon.
Key progress during 2022/23:
- Keeping children safe: This year saw the launch of the Safer Communities Programme in Surrey schools. Developed in partnership with Surrey County Council, Surrey Police and Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, the programme provides community safety education to year six pupils, aged between 10 and 11 years old. The programme includes new materials for teachers to use as part of their Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) classes, which students receive to help them stay healthy and prepare for later life. The digital teaching resources will enhance the education that young people receive on themes including keeping themselves and others safe, protecting their physical and mental health, and being a good community member. The programme is being rolled out across all Surrey boroughs and districts in 2023.
- More police officers: Despite a challenging recruitment market, we were able to meet the Government’s officer uplift target. Further work is required to ensure numbers are maintained during the year ahead, but Surrey Police has made good progress, and this is helping to ensure a visible police presence on our streets. Equally, the Police and Crime Panel’s agreement of my proposed precept for 2023/24 will mean Surrey Police can continue to protect frontline services, enabling policing teams to tackle those issues important to the public.
- A renewed focus on mental health demand: This year we have been collaborating with colleagues at Surrey Police to appropriately manage policing demand related to mental health concerns, with the aim of supporting individuals in crisis and diverting them into appropriate services while only resorting to emergency powers when necessary. We are working towards a national partnership agreement that incorporates the ‘Right Care, Right Person’ model, which prioritises a health-led response to mental health incidents. I am in active discussions with the Deputy Chief Constable and Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to improve the situation and ensure that individuals in crisis receive the right care and support they need.
- Reducing violence: The UK government has committed to a programme of work to prevent and reduce serious violence, taking a multi-agency approach to understand its causes and consequences, focusing on prevention and early intervention. The Serious Violence Duty requires specified authorities to collaborate and plan to prevent and reduce serious violence, and Police and Crime Commissioners are encouraged to take a lead convener role for local partnership arrangements. During 2022/23 my office has been laying the foundations for this work and will prioritise this in the year ahead.
- Improved oversight of professional standards: Surrey has not been immune to the reputational damage caused to policing by recent, high-profile incidents in other forces. Recognising public concern, I have increased my office’s oversight of our professional standards functions, and we now hold regular meetings with the Head of Professional Standards and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to better monitor emerging complaint and misconduct data. My team also now have direct access to complaint management databases, allowing us to conduct regular dip checks on cases, with a specific focus on investigations that have exceeded 12 months.
- Police Appeal Tribunals: My team continue to manage Police Appeals Tribunals – appeals against the findings of gross (serious) misconduct brought by police officers or special constables. We have been working closely with our regional colleagues to standardise processes, ensure better coordination and improve our approach to the recruitment and training of our Legally Qualified Chairs, who oversee proceedings.
Independent Custody Visitors provide valuable independent oversight of the care that is provided when an individual is detained.
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