Preventing crime was at the start of my vision statement. It is Peel’s first principle. We can and all should have more ambition than we have been able so far to deliver. I want us to make a massive impact on crime in the next two years.
Residents of Sparkbrook have formed a new Street Watch scheme in partnership with local neighbourhood police officers. PCSO Jason Creed on patrol with Colin Hall and Rio the dog.
We have seen significant rises in traditional acquisitive crime, although in areas like vehicle crime, the methods are quite different.
This rise is a national trend but for us came at a time when we were in a state of re-organisation and then were hit with an incredible level of summer demand that blunted our proactivity. We are still now in a phase where we need to prevent this crime and the greatest priority for the force is at this stage to quickly bring down burglary, robbery and vehicle crime. This will need to be done by ensuring clear accountability, really effective communication, tasking and coordinating across teams, a relentless focus on gathering intelligence and on offenders. This all requires leadership and active “hands on” participation by leaders.
This is, I hope, a short term task as by April I want us to sustain this practice whilst looking forward to a more progressive agenda. The rise in firearms and knife crime continues to show the biggest challenge we face is from violence. A real grip on intelligence in the area of firearms has seen reductions in shootings. It will not solve the long term drivers of this violence. Knife crime is even harder to prevent through enforcement. We will be returning to the themes in Craig’s Story to ensure our crime strategies are solidly based on early intervention, adverse childhood experiences and a stronger partnership approach to prevent crime. Violence reduction is critical. Earlier intervention is essential.
At times I feel some have been confused between this need for active policing to tackle short term threats and a long term approach to reducing crime and offending. There is no contradiction. Put simply it’s hard to divert a burglar if you don’t get on and get them into custody! I want to see crime reduction work managing a rapid response to short term threats and long term prevention.
As we have created automatic radio affiliation every resource is in play in getting to the critical calls where an opportunity to catch offender exists. The new Corvus app puts live tasking in the field not in the briefing room, followed by PNC and mobile fingerprinting that enable us to take the fight to the criminal. The Data Driven Insights project will direct our focus. We will show a relentless approach on 2018 to demonstrating the most effective policing activity to prevent crime.
We have made a start but we need to transform public involvement in prevention. In my speech I talked about a new role for the public – one where we wanted a new digital relationship with those we serve and for people to play a more active role in their area. Our new website has seen 1.1 million users and WMNOW has 36,000 subscribers. These are good steps any force would be proud of, but we are not just anywhere, we are West Midlands Police!
I have been encouraged by the Mutual Gain work and some good world cafes driving out ideas on local priorities. There have been some great Street Watch initiatives. However overall I am disappointed by the lack of progress and ambition on involving the public in helping us make their communities secure. We are being slow and traditional and not trying new things and taking risks. I understand some colleagues did not feel they needed the Mutual Gain training, well I am afraid it is because we are expecting more than we currently do. Our engagement and public involvement needs transforming.
A few weeks ago Birmingham hospitals could not get their staff to work in the snow. They asked for help from members of the public with 4×4 cars to help collect staff. The appeal was shared over one million times on social media and people rapidly came forward. Would we be brave enough to do this? When we face real spikes in crime would we ask people to come out and help us leaflet drop or cocoon an area? Would we bury ourselves in vetting forms and bureaucracy?
I want more entrepreneurial behaviour next year, particularly from NPUs, on how we can make the public a part of solving their community’s problems and at a pace that matches the threat. “I am creative and think of new approaches” is one of our key values so let’s do more! Don’t wait for permission.