Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner
This week saw two important announcements from the Home Office: the 2018 Serious Violence Strategy, which focusses on steering young people away from crime plus funding for prevention activities and enforcement; and £50 million of funding over the next year to bolster cyber capabilities within law enforcement at a national, regional and local level.
The Serious Violence Strategy published on Monday (9 April) is an important step forward in the national drive to tackle the worrying increase in knife crime, gun crime and homicides over recent years. I am pleased the Strategy looks to bring together effective interventions rooted in enforcement, prevention and regulation to tackle the cause in the recent growth in violent crime.
Although levels of violent crime in Sussex are comparatively low, I will continue to question the Chief Constable and his senior officers during my webcast accountability meetings to make sure they remain vigilant. I am committed to a balanced approach and it is clear that this is a task that cannot be left to policing alone so my office will be looking to work even more closely with our twelve Sussex Community Safety Partnerships to help keep our communities safe.
The £50 million investment announced by the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd on Wednesday (11 April) to help local police officers fight illegal online activity at a community level is most welcome. The extra funding will enable all local police forces to further the skills needed to investigate cases of cyber-crime and also be more digitally aware to provide preventative advice to local people and businesses.
As Principal Lead of the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners Police Technology and Digital Portfolio, I am determined to tackle exploitation online and keep residents, especially our most vulnerable people of Sussex digitally safe.
Although the national fraud profile shows that younger people are more frequently targeted, in counties like Sussex with an ageing population, it is the 65+ age group that have proved most vulnerable to online scams. This is why I allocated funding to support a joint Cybercrime Unit, based at Haywards Heath Police Station, which was set up in 2014 to keep local people safe in this modern environment and stay ahead of online crime in the future.
Although levels of violent crime in Sussex are comparatively low, I will continue to question the Chief Constable and his senior officers during my webcast accountability meetings to make sure they remain vigilant.
Next week is National Staking Awareness Week and I am getting ready to #StandUpToStalking.
One in five women and one in ten men will experience stalking at some stage in their life. It became recognised as a criminal offence in 2012 but, six years later, it is still not properly understood. Many police forces are still failing victims and this has also been the case in Sussex where we have sadly had some awful cases of stalking, one of which led to the murder of Shana Grice. More recently, we had the case of a St Leonards’ woman who was stalked and tormented by her own husband who was pretending to be someone else.
I have my own experience of fixated stalking over a five year period which led me to seek an injunction against a local man who had followed me online and in person, and written and posted hundreds of pages of false news and dozens of malicious videos. So I have every sympathy for the thousands of victims and I share their frustration when the system doesn’t respond in a compassionate and constructive way.
That is why I am passionately committed to providing support to victims of stalking. It was clear from my review that a comprehensive response was required so I provided a two-year grant totalling £92,500 (co-commissioned with Sussex Police) to fund a local, specialist service provided by Veritas Justice, for victims in Sussex.
I am really pleased that Sussex Police have acknowledged their training and development needs and that senior officers are as committed as I am to ensuring the Force understands stalking.
I invested a large part of last year’s police precept (the amount you pay for policing in your council tax) into the Public Protection Unit and the Force is now better equipped and better trained to recognise and deal with stalking. As a result of improvements to training for officers and prosecutors, last year Sussex Police saw an average 300% increase in reports of stalking and three times as many cases have been solved compared to the previous 12 months.
I will continue to raise awareness of stalking with all our statutory agencies to help give victims the confidence to report it and empower them to fight back.
You can #StandUpToStalking by signing up to my day cause, here.
Click here to watch Lorraine’s story about how she was stalked by a complete stranger.
Katy Bourne - Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner
101 – Police non-emergency number
On the 1 November police forces throughout England and Wales switched from their various non emergency contact numbers to 101.
Sussex Police have been preparing for months for the switch over and have been live testing the 101 number since July 2011 in order to monitor how well the technology works.
Calls to the 101 non-emergency number will cost 15 pence for the entire call, no matter how long the call or what time of day it is. This applies to both landlines and mobile phones. In an emergency, callers should still dial 999, which is free. Those members of the public with impaired hearing or speech can still use the textphone -18001 101.
You can also report most non-emergency crime at no cost via the Sussex Police website at www.sussex.police.uk/contact-us/report-a-crime-or-incident. Online crime reporting was introduced back in January of last year and has proven very popular with many of the public who prefer this method of contacting the police rather than phoning.
When a member of the public calls 101, the system will determine the caller's location and connect them to the police force covering that area. They will hear a recorded message announcing which police force they are being connected to. If a caller is on a boundary between two or more forces, the recorded message will give them a choice of which force to be connected to.
Police call handlers in the force control room for that area will then answer the calls and respond appropriately. The caller will not be put through to a large national call centre.
For more information and some useful resources visit www.homeoffice.gov.uk/police/101-police-non-emergency