Agenda item

Wiltshire Police Chief Constable

To receive an update from the Wiltshire Police Chief Constable, Catherine Roper.


As per the Chairman’s Announcement, this item was taken after Item 8, Partner and Community Updates as the Wiltshire Police Chief Constable would be joining the meeting later than intended.


The Area Board received an update from Wiltshire Police Chief Constable, Catherine Roper. The update covered the following matters:

·       The responsibility of the Chief Constable was to deliver against the PCC plan, with Wiltshire Police placed into special measures “engage” in summer 2022.

·       As part of being placed into “engage”, it was highlighted that Wiltshire Police had an insufficient strategic framework, they weren’t investigating to an effective standard and were not providing effective support for victims.

·       As part of the work to rectify these issues, business as usual (BAU) work was separated from the response to “engage”, as though the Police were busy, they had not driven things in the right way, with a need to get the fundamentals right and improve public trust, visibility, and transparency.

Business as Usual

·       As part of BAU work, the Chief Constable considered the Police and Crime Plan provided by the PCC and reorganised priorities in place with monthly performance meetings to hold officers to account.

·       To improve transparency the Chief also produced an open letter to the PCC to provide an update of what work has been completed.

·       There was a push on police visibility across the county, with two mobile police stations funded and an increased recruitment drive, including transferees from other forces.

Response to Engage

·       Work has been completed to improve the processes in place as well as a review of the operating model to ensure that there is a focus on frontline workers, with employee feedback driving change.

·       An improved audit and inspection routine was now in place for the police to test against improvements and respond to feedback; with call centres identified as an area that the force wanted to improve.

·       The Chief Constable attends a performance oversight group in London every 6 months, where she presents to the HMI and Home Office.


After the verbal updates, there was time for the following questions and points to be made:

·       Praise was placed towards the neighbourhood policing team in Trowbridge for their professionalism.

·       A question received online raised concern towards an increasing number of cash businesses locally and whether the force considered this to be a laundering operation for drugs money. It was clarified that the force need to be intelligence led and that there might be many reasons for why a business might be cash rich. Should the police have intelligence, then they would act upon it and visit premises.

·       Concern was raised that once the 101 service is improved, demand might increase with crime figures also rising due to increased reporting; to which it was noted that there was not a concern about resource management and that the only concern was ensuring that residents have confidence to report as this could lead to more intelligence being collected.

·       A point was raised about how it might be possible to gain more intelligence from residents, to which it was stated that one of the best ways would be for the police to spend greater time in communities building relationships. This in turn would also act as a deterrent.

·       It was questioned whether the past is impacting on recruitment, to which it was clarified that Wiltshire Police currently has 1187 officers which is more than ever before with a further desire to strengthen the force and broaden the blend of staff through direct entry routes and the enticement of experienced transferees.

·       A point was raised regarding online crime, with clarity that Wiltshire has a small team dedicated to online crime, which acts towards a national process where recommendations come from a central place. Additionally, there is a focus on prevention and deterrence, with the example of economic crime week cited.

·       Clarity was provided that there is not an average time to be taken out of Engage, with the view held by the Chief Constable that Wiltshire Police should only leave Engage once the foundations of fundamental delivery had been carefully rebuilt with a strong base to build upon.

·       It was questioned what the role of the police was, to which the Chief Constable stated that this was to keep Wiltshire safe.

·       Clarity was provided regarding citizens arrests and public intervention.