Agenda item

Partner and Community Updates

Verbal Updates

To receive any verbal updates from representatives, including:

·       Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service – Station Manager Nic Courtice

·       Wiltshire Police – Inspector Kevin Harmsworth

·       Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) – Philip Wilkinson OBE

·       Wiltshire Police Chief Constable – Catherine Roper

·       Salisbury Hospital / NHS Foundation Trust - Tony Mears (Associate Director of Strategy)

·       Wiltshire and Swindon Prepared Resilience Event – update from Cllr George Jeans



The Board received the following verbal updates:


·       Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS), District Commander Mark Hillier

District Commander Mark Hillier was in attendance to represent the DWFRS rather than Station Manager Nic Courtice as stated on the agenda, Mr Hillier was the new DWFRS representative for the South West Wiltshire Area Board. The DWFRS written update could be found in agenda supplement 2. The service undertook a lot of work on prevention, particularly aimed at those considered most at risk. This was mainly undertaken through their Safe and Well visits. Anyone interested in fire safety should get in touch and further details could be found at The service was also undertaking business fire safety checks.


Recruitment was ongoing, further details could be found at


Incidents with E-bikes and E-scooters were highlighted, in relation to risks with the batteries failing or ‘exploding’ when being charged, which could rapidly lead to a fire. The advice was to not leave them charging unattended, particularly overnight. Full details could be found here:


There had not been any spike in incidents, however there had been a fire in an old commercial building in Tisbury.


·       Wiltshire Police – Inspector Kevin Harmsworth

Inspector Harmsworth gave updates for the Warminster and Salisbury Community Policing Teams (CPTs) who covered the South West Wiltshire community area. Written updates were also included in the agenda.


There had been incidents of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) in Alderbury and Longhedge and the police were working with partners to try to reduce these. Rural crime was a priority, for example hare coursing. Non dwelling burglaries and relay thefts (keyless car thefts) had reduced, however there had been a spate of burglaries in Broad Chalke. The police were conducting patrols and investigating thoroughly. They were also encouraging preventative measures such as using faraday pouches which can prevent thieves from cloning a car key's signal.


Off road motorbikes had been an issue in St Peter’s Place and Bemerton Heath and this had reduced, however it seemed like the issue may have moved to Harnham. The police were supporting Community Speed Watch (CSW) in conjunction with Road Safety teams. Street drinkers and ASB in Salisbury city centre were an issue, however it had reduced. There was a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in place, and a further PSPO was planned.


In Mere and Tisbury road safety was a prevalent theme. In recent weeks 5 drink drivers had been arrested. Some of these incidents seemed to be related to the football club, so licensing was being looked at as well. Attendees were encouraged to check police social media for updates from the road safety team on enforcement. ASB and criminal damage had been an issue in Mere and communities were encouraged to report such incidents. A male had been arrested at the ‘End of the Road’ festival in Tollard Royal for supplying controlled drugs. A misuse of drugs act warrant had been enacted in Mere to deal with the production of cannabis.


Cllr Bridget Wayman highlighted issues with speeding in some of her parishes, particularly on the A350 East Knoyle bypass. Enforcement would be welcomed, as would details regarding any enforcement. The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) stated that details regarding enforcement could be found on his website:


Cllr George Jeans detailed issues in Mere with ASB and criminal damage. He stated he would really like to see a dedicated Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) for Mere and highlighted the long response times when reporting issues online or by calling 101. Inspector Harmsworth stated that whilst there was no dedicated PCSO solely for Mere, response officers could undertake visible patrols in between call outs. The inspector also highlighted the importance of police volunteers and stated that they were continually recruiting. It was emphasised that if you saw a crime in progress, you should call 999.  


·       Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Philip Wilkinson OBE.

The PCC stated that he had been reassured by Inspector Harmsworth’s update as the local priorities were strategically aligned to the priorities set out in his Police and Crime Plan. His plan was being actioned but there were still improvements to be made. The PCC’s role was to hold the Police Constable to account, and he met with the Police Constable and her team on a regular basis.


The PCC detailed priorities he was working on. The PCC felt that front line engagement must be improved. In particular the control and communications centre really needed to make improvements. 999 response was good but response to 101 was not up to par. 


The PCC stated that he had collaborated with other South West police forces to address county lines drug dealing. ‘Operation Scorpion’ had been underway for two years and tackled drug related crime. Wiltshire Police was now the top force in the country when it came to county lines disruption.


Local crimes such as speeding were also a priority. Community Speed Watch (CSW) teams coordinated with each other and with the police. Data was being collected from Speed Indicator Devices (SIDs) which was analysed so that hot spots could be identified, and enforcement action taken. In 2021, 192 speed enforcement tickets had been issued. In 2023 so far, over 5500 had been issued. It was stated that the aim was not to punish drivers but to deter them from speeding.


Rural crime was another important issue. The number of officers in the rural crime team had been increased, and they now had infra-red night vision equipment and drones. ‘Operation Ragwort’ had been underway and addressed serious rural crime by organised crime gangs. The PCC wanted the police to be proactive and a new intelligence structure was being set up with other South West forces to tackle the issue.


The PCC had invested heavily in victim support, in particular to support the victims of rape and serious sexual offences through the criminal justice process. 


Anti-Social Behavior (ASB) was a challenge. Extra funds had been acquired from government to help tackle this. When there was a spike in ASB in an area, the PCC would convene local stakeholders who would all work together to tackle not just the symptoms but also the causes of ASB.


·       Wiltshire Police Chief Constable, Catherine Roper

The Chief Constable had been in post now for six months, having joined in February 2023. The force had been in special measures since May/June 2022 and the Chief Constable wanted to let people know how they were improving. The response to the engage process (following being put in special measures) was a priority. The control room was an issue, and the service to victims of crime was not consistent so the force was not as effective as they should have been. There was a large push to make improvements in those areas.


Another concern was that the force had not previously had a strategy, with no priorities or strategic planning and the Chief Constable was working to address that. Regular updates could be found online here: The force was also working to improve HR functions, bringing in people with skills.


In response to special measures the Chief Constable had designed a program of work called Evolve. The innovation and improvement strand of that was to reduce bureaucracy and to improve technology, so that officers could spend more time out in the community. Shift patterns were being reviewed, to ensure you had the right people in the right place at the right time. The proposals had been put out to consultation with officers and it was hoped that they could be put in place in January 2024. Another piece of work was being undertaken on audit and inspection, which measured how the force was doing, looking at the work of teams and providing bespoke feedback for improvement.


Regarding the response to 101 calls, it was acknowledged that this was not swift enough, and an improvement plan had been implemented, which was being tracked. It was not going as fast as the Chief Constable hoped so more resources were going to be allocated to it. 999 response times to calls and for officers to arrive were all within Service Level Agreements.


Mobile police station van numbers were increasing and would be more visible, helping to improvement engagement and the service.


The Chief Constable thanked her teams as they had all responded well to the changes.


Inspector Harmsworth, the Chief Constable and the PCC responded to questions from Members and attendees in relation to speeding, enforcement and county lines.


·       Salisbury Hospital / NHS Foundation Trust – Tony Mears (Associate Director of Strategy)

Mr Mears updated on some of the challenges faced by the Salisbury Foundation Trust (SFT). Finance was a really big issue, as was the elective backlog and the NHS wait list. It was hard to discharge people from hospital back out into community settings, which caused further delays. Industrial action was another issue, although this had not been as bad in Salisbury as in other areas. Wiltshire had a significant ageing population and a shrinking working population, so the SFT would be delivering more complex care, to more people, with a smaller workforce. This would mean there would need to be change in practices in order to cope. The SFT has a nationally significant high turnover in staff which had an effect. The reasons behind that were not yet fully understood. Children’s mental health was an issue highlighted by JSNA data, and the boater and traveler communities needed support to get the outcomes they needed.


Mr Mears stated that it was an exciting time to be in care and that collaborative care had opened some doors. Money had been set aside for health and equality at work, and this would be targeted at the poorest areas. Mr Mears hoped that his presence at these meetings going forward would show that the hospital was trying to engage with communities more.


Highlights were detailed, including the Stars appeal, which raised funds to support patients and staff at the hospital and funded the patient Wi-Fi there. Falls on wards had reduced 20% which was really positive.  A new ward was being constructed and suggestions for the name of the ward were being taken. The SFT was in the top 10 trusts for low ambulance wait times.


The Neigbourhood Collaborative Steering group, which addressed health and wellbeing issues, was briefly discussed with the hope that another Wiltshire Councillor could be added to the group.


·       Wiltshire and Swindon Prepared Resilience Event – Cllr George Jeans

Cllr Jeans gave a brief update on the Wiltshire and Swindon Prepared Resilience Event which he had attended. It had been a useful event with many scenarios discussed, such as a national loss of power. It was highlighted that new landlines did not work if there was a power cut and that mobile phones would run out of power if not charged, therefore a total loss of communications was possible. The idea of community hubs was discussed. A hub where information could be exchanged, and help provided would be really useful and was something that communities should consider.


The Chairman thanked everyone for their updates.


Supporting documents: