Agenda item

Briefing on Project Vigilant

DS Louise Morley (Strategic Support Officer – Wiltshire Police) will give the Committee a briefing on Project Vigliant. 



DS Louise Morley (Strategic Support Officer – Wiltshire Police) attended the meeting to brief the Licensing Committee on Project Vigilant which was a collaborative approach to target predatory behaviour within the Night Time economies in Wiltshire.  DS Morley highlighted the following:


·           Project Vigilant was piloted by Thames Valley Police and is an operation that deployed plan clothes police officers into the Night Time economy in Oxford – this was a structured approach to focus on potential perpetrators of sexual violence. The operation was perpetrator focused and sought to deploy a number of disruption tactics to prevent offences taking place.  Project Vigilant was found to be an effective tool to combat sexual offending.  Its perpetrator focus uncovered subjects that are known sexual offenders as well as those that have been assessed as posing a significant risk.  Once the tactic has been used, even if arrests were not made, potential perpetrators were dispersed from the area and Thames Valley Police saw a positive reduction of offending and the community appreciated the proactive response and the operation did not victim blame, something that other forces have been criticised for;


·           Det Chief Insp Gemma Vinton is the Wiltshire Police Lead for Project Vigilant in Wiltshire which saw both uniformed and plain clothes officers targeting pubs and clubs in some of the towns in Wiltshire in September and October 2021;


·           The intention of the project was to


i)    safeguard the vulnerable from sexual violence through proactive disruptive patrols and providing an enhanced response to serious sexual offences

ii)   identify vulnerable persons and safeguard them through engagement and advice

iii)identify predatory behaviour by potential perpetrators and prevent further offences through overt intervention

iv)gather intelligence around potential perpetrators for future disruption and to assist further investigations

v)  Improve standard of initial investigation and golden hour enquiries through using detective resources


·           There were a number of risk factors that had been identified from the National Crime Agency for Officers to look out to identify potential perpetrators;


·           Intervention Officers were tasked to speak with the individuals displaying some of the behaviours and discussed within them why their behaviour was of concern.  Officers took details and conducted Police intelligence checks.  They gathered intel e. vehicles, associates, work and links to the area and then encouraged them to leave.  Using all of the information gathered, a full risk assessment was conducted on each individual and they were scored using a risk matrix;


·           The perpetrator categories are as below:


Category A +?

i)    Strong evidence that the subject has committed a serious stranger sexual violent act in the Night Time economy in the last 12 months and is not currently imprisoned or has recently been released from prison for such an offence.


Category A?

ii)   Has displayed four or more risk factors or is a current or historic registered sexual offender displaying more than one risk factor.


       Category B?

iii)Has displayed more than one warning behaviour or the SIO has reason to believe that the subject poses a risk to the community. ?


       Category C?

iv)           Has displayed one warning behaviour indicating a potential risk ?


       No risk ?

v)  Based upon officer observations and information known, the subject has been precluded by the SIO as posing a sexual risk in the community.?


·           So far, Operation Vigilant as been deployed once in Trowbridge and Amesbury and three times in Swindon.  There would be another operation taking place at the end of March;


·           The positive learning so far has been that it was very easy to spot individuals displaying the risk factors, individuals displaying concerning behaviours were successfully dispersed, essential intelligence was gathered and there was high public praise received due to the perpetrator focus;


·           There were some areas for development and they had found that in Swindon there were more taxis available to get people away who were being dispersed – they found that there were limited taxis in the Wiltshire areas they visited;


·           As part of their partnership approach they would offer training for staff to be able to spot and acknowledge perpetrator risk factors and ask for people to look at the behaviours socially and morally of those around them in their own organisations and consider what was once normal practice to ignore that it should not be now;


·           They were planning to build the work of the operation into their business as usual and not have it as just a pre-planned operation; and


·           If you notice behaviour that causes concern then this should be monitored with any CCTV being retained and intelligence being supplied to the Police to build up a picture and enable there to be intervention with individuals of concern and there were posters to display in premises.


The Chairman thanked Ds Morley for her presentation and asked in relation to the intelligence gathering and sharing if they would be willing/able to make a connection with the Taxi operators to share their intelligence.  DS Morley confirmed that they would be willing to share images of those that they had concerns.  DS Morley would liaise with Tom Ince (Principal Compliance Officer) outside of the meeting to progress this.


Committee Members asked the following:


·           What allowances would be made for those with mental health problems and those under the influence.  DS Morley explained that the safety of all persons is a priority and that officers are sensitive to the mental health needs and dependency related issues for all.  She gave an example of how they deal with Online Child Exploitation Activist groups.  These groups inform the police of potential CSE perpetrators and often attend the potential perpetrators addresses causing potential risks.  Attending officers would always take into account potential mental health needs or learning needs and officers always ensure their safety.


·           Why did you choose Amesbury to carry out the operation in Amesbury – did you attend various locations?  DS Morley reported that nothing stood out on these visits – they picked the busiest locations and found that there was good public engagement with no negative comments and they wanted to get the message out that this type of behaviour is not acceptable and that they were monitoring it.


·           What happens if they if they decline the request to leave the premises/area?  DS Morley reported that there were no Police powers available to them in these instances but that they select Officers who are highly skilled in communication for these discussions and then continue to monitor those individuals.  They found that some did leave the premises and come back and there was a bit of cat and mouse but this reduced the opportunity for offending to take place.


·           Is the project linked with the Ask Angela initiative?  DS Morley reported that it would be good to get these linked up and following a staff restructure her Superintendent had just picked up the lead role for violence against women and girls so they would go together well.


Linda Holland (Licensing Manager) asked about the numbers that they had engaged with in Wiltshire compared to Swindon and if they had considered going to Pubwatch meetings to raise awareness of Project Vigilant?  DS Morley responded that on average between 5 and 10 persons were engaged with and they were displaying behaviours of varying degrees.  All interactions were positive and had not turned sour.  They would appreciate the opportunity to present at Pubwatch meetings and spread awareness of behaviours, how to notice them and then deal with those behaviours.


The Chairman stated that he was aware that there were lots of Town Councils involved in the monitoring of CCTV and that there could be observations made by PCSO’s.  He would not wish for any work to be overlapped but noted that there was a link with Town and Parish Councils and highlighted that convenience stores too were a key part of intelligence and so asked if they planned to link in with all premises that operate for the late night economy?  DS Morley agreed that they needed to get the message out that this would not be tolerated and intended to reach far and wide with this.  In November there was White Ribbon day which was weeks of action to build a multi-agency working group together to really combat this.


The Committee asked for an update on Project Vigilant in six months’ time and this would be brought back to the September 2022 meeting of the Committee.




  1. That the Licensing Committee note the briefing on project Vigilant.


  1. That the Licensing Committee receive a further update on Project Vigilant at their meeting on 12 September 2022.