Agenda item

Chief Constable Update

To receive an update from Chief Constable Catherine Roper.


Inspector Pete Foster gave an update on behalf of the local neighbourhood police team. Key points included:


·       He was pleased to report that the Neighbourhood Team now had more officers and introduced their newest recruit PC Lizzie Wright.

·       The importance of neighbourhood policing was emphasised.

·       It was noted that the operating model of Wiltshire Police’s response teams had been reformed going from a five team to four team model. Having fewer, but larger, teams would ensure better availability of officers.

·       Wiltshire Police had published a number of community commitments.

·       Recent initiatives to improve community engagement included hosting a series of Facebook Live events where officers would answer pre-submitted questions. Neighbourhood police teams would also participate in online parish forums in addition to their existing engagements.

·       Wiltshire was a very safe county and had the lowest crime per thousand people in the country.

·       Community conversations had taken place at Calne Hub and Library and Marden Vale CE Academy.

·       Out of Court Disposals had become a significant area of focus, as evidence was showing that it was effective at reducing reoffending rates. Under this approach, rather than offenders being sent to court, they would be invited to make reparations to their victims, such as writing letters of apology.

·       Prevention was very important component of the strategy to reduce crime including in areas such as speed awareness.

·       The Community Road Safety Team had greatly increased the number of enforcement notices issued, with over 2,000 sent out in the previous quarter.

·       There had been issues in the local area with e-scooters. It was illegal to ride e-scooters on pavements and they needed to be taxed.



During the discussion, points included:


·       Chief Constable Catherine Roper reassured the Area Board that Calne Police Station would not be closing. She reported that under the new operating model there were additional resources for neighbourhood teams, so that local inspectors could bid for additional support if there were particular areas of concern.

·       Additional mobile police engagement vehicles had been sent out in the county and had visited Calne.

·       Police Community Support Officer Mark Cook was doing a great job.

·       In response to questions about why the Area Board’s area did not often appear on priority speeding lists, Inspector Foster noted that lists often included areas of civilian patrols and his team had been conducting additional patrols.

·       It was noted that through Project Zero, traffic officers would conduct additional patrols in different areas of the county at specific times. 

·       Referencing the lower than predicted crime levels in December 2023, Cllr Tom Rounds questioned whether cost of living pressures had had an impact. Inspector Foster explained that there was a complex relationship between crime and economic circumstances, as crime could go up in times of poverty. However, he noted that less disposable income spent on alcohol did have an impact on reducing the number of violent offences.

·       When asked about the steep fall in the number of burglaries, Inspector Foster noted that they had a low level of burglaries in Calne, so the arrest of one or two prolific offenders could have a significant impact on the figures. 

·       Alan Hill from Calne Town Council asked why the map on page 9 of Wiltshire Police’s Estate Strategy 2023-27 did not feature Calne in the estate model locations. In response, the Chief Constable reiterated that there were no plans to close the station. She noted that, although the station was not staffed 24/7, it was used by the Neighbourhood, Response and Rural Crime teams. The Chief Constable offered for a link to the Estates Strategy to be sent to the Clerk at Calne Town Council.

·       It was noted that town councils in Calne, Corsham and Chippenham had funded a police van for use in their towns. Further information was sought about how the van was being deployed.

·       It was confirmed that the van funded jointly by the town councils was not the CCTV van that had recently been recently vandalised in Calne. Wiltshire Police would provide an update about the vandalised van.

·       The Area Board’s Older Person’s Champion praised Wiltshire Police’s Fraud Prevention Strategy and noted that they had been given a presentation at Calne Health and Social Care Forum.

·       It was asked whether there were plans to roll out bleed kits, like those introduced in Swindon, to the rest of Wiltshire. Inspector Foster noted that different types of crime were often committed in Swindon to the rest of the county.

·       A question was asked about whether Wiltshire Police were still in special measures and, if they were, what this meant for residents. The Chief Constable explained that Wiltshire Police had been placed in special measures in 2022. The force was adjudged to be inadequate in its response to the public, protection of vulnerable people and strategic planning. She noted that since she had come into post 11 months ago progress had been made towards addressing the issues identified. A new inspection was due in March 2024 and the inspection report was likely to be available in May or June. She stated that significant strides had been made in the response to ‘phone calls, criminal charge rates and reducing certain types of criminality. In terms of what this meant for the public, she noted that there was now a reinvigorated neighbourhood policing offer and emphasised the importance of laying the foundations for continued improvement.