New police chief: My hopes for our great county
I’m delighted to introduce myself as the head of local policing for West Mercia Police, the police force which covers Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. I am responsible for how policing is delivered to our local communities, from our response to emergency incidents to our safer neighbourhood teams and crime investigation.
It’s a role I feel incredibly privileged to hold, particularly covering Shropshire as it’s where I grew up, where my family are from and where I live. Shropshire really is a fantastic place to live and it’s a great honour to be able to help make a difference to policing in my home county, a place I’m very passionate about. The county is generally very safe with low levels of crime, however, that doesn’t mean we’re complacent and one thing I’m committed to doing is constantly looking at ways we can improve the service we deliver and make sure we have a service that is fit for purpose. As criminality evolves it is important policing evolves and modernises to meet these new challenges. The announcement of an increase in officers made last year is obviously something that is welcomed, we anticipate this will mean additional officers for West Mercia and we are already looking at our plans of how our workforce may look going forward.
Despite our county being one of the safest, I’m acutely aware of the significant impact crime has on our local communities when it does happen, in particular crimes such as burglary and theft and those that affect our rural communities. It’s encouraging to see that burglaries have fallen considerably in recent years across our policing areas of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
In 2015 I introduced a crime prevention initiative We Don’t Buy Crime which focusses on crimes such as burglary and theft and the associated harm, with the aim to put criminals out of business across the counties covered by West Mercia Police and I’m really pleased with the success it has had so far. Many of you may have seen our We Don’t Buy Crime signs in towns and villages throughout Shropshire. The initiative has been possible thanks to innovative partnership working between West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion and local parish and town councils which has meant in the areas that have signed up we have been able to provide a free SmartWater forensic property marking kit to every resident. Academic research which I commissioned to assess its effectiveness and ensure value for money has proved the initiative has not just helped reduce crime but has provided enhanced reassurance to our local communities. We Don’t Buy Crime continues to go from strength to strength with my ultimate aim seeing every area signed up and I would encourage any towns or parishes not already signed up to get involved and become protected.
The towns and villages is just one aspect of We Don’t Buy Crime, we also work with second-hand shops to help identify stolen goods, utilise covert tactics and work with fuel stations. Obviously, I won’t go into detail about the covert tactics we use but we are using some of the latest methods to make it as difficult as possible for thieves. Last year a new element was introduced that aims to address the associated harm that comes with crime. Our exploitation and vulnerability trainers deliver bespoke inputs to organisations and community groups to raise awareness of the role our communities can play in spotting the signs of criminal exploitation. To find out more, either about the training or our towns and villages initiative please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Towards the end of last year we unfortunately saw a considerable number of fraud offences, both by email and telephone, with fraudsters trying to scam people out of money. The most common scam we saw was what’s known as a ‘courier fraud’, where criminals pretended to be police officers. These fraudsters can often be incredibly convincing and give you no reason not to believe they aren’t genuine but I want to reiterate our advice that we will never ask you to withdraw money from your account. If you want to check if a call is legitimate check it online, don’t ring back on the number the caller has given you. If in any doubt ring police on 101. It is often not unknown for these people to specifically target someone who is elderly or vulnerable and I would ask you pass this message on to any elderly or vulnerable relatives, friends or neighbours you may have. We are continuing to put significant resources into our investigations into these offences with a number of people arrested.
With your help we can make huge steps to put them out of business completely. For more information about the scams fraudsters use and how to avoid falling victim visit www.actionfraud.police.uk