Efficient and Effective Policing
I am proud to say that Lancashire continues to be recognised as an efficient and effective force, backed up by the largest capital investment programme in living memory to ensure Lancashire has all the right tools and infrastructure needed to be a cutting edge, pro-active, victims focussed, crime busting, fit for the future police force.
I had the opportunity to thank everyone at Lancashire Constabulary from the Chief Constable and his team to all frontline officers for their dedication, hard work and commitment, which was recognised in the HMICFRS report released in October 2022.
The report highlighted that the Constabulary is graded ‘good’ in six areas – engaging and treating the public with fairness and respect, preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, protecting vulnerable people, managing offenders and suspects, building and supporting the workforce, and strategic planning, organisational management and value for money.
Whilst the inspectorate highlights there is still much work to be done, it is a positive report that continues to put Lancashire as one of the top performing forces in the country. Constabulary is already making significant progress on the items raised and also continuing to make progress against my Police and Crime Plan priorities.
This report has fed into my regular Accountability Board meetings with the Chief Constable, and I will continue to scrutinise and hold the force to account to deliver improvements in performance.
Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR)
The Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR) sets out those threats which, in the Home Secretary’s view, are the biggest threat to public safety and must be given due regard by PCCs when issuing or varying Police and Crime Plans. It supports PCCs as well as Chief Constables to plan, prepare and respond to these threats by clearly linking the local response to the national, highlighting the capabilities and partnerships that policing needs to ensure it can fulfil its national responsibilities.
A revised version of the SPR was published in February 2023 which provided strengthened detail around the action required from policing at the local and regional level to the critical national threats. The 2023 SPR sets out seven identified national threats. These are as follows: Serious and Organised Crime (SOC); Terrorism; Cyber; Child Sexual Abuse; Public Disorder and Civil Emergencies. These remain from the 2015 version with the addition in 2023 of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), reflecting the threat it presents to public safety and confidence.
Given this annual report is for the year April 2022 to March 2023, it will not respond in detail to the revised SPR due to the timing of its publication. However, as Police and Crime Commissioner, I am confident I have given due regard to the six threat areas identified in the previous SPR in my Police and Crime Plan and in my role holding my Chief Constable to account. VAWG, while not previously contained in the SPR, nonetheless is a key and pressing issue on which I update in this report and will be prioritised in future iterations.
Lobbying – Degree Entry Recruitment
In November 2022, I was delighted when Home Secretary Suella Braverman MP announced that policing degrees will no longer be required for trainee officers, after my six-month campaign calling for a rethink on the policy.
Instead, she has asked the College of Policing to look at options for a new, non-degree, entry route, to complement the existing framework – and in the meantime the previous nondegree programme, the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) that was phased out, will remain open.
Whilst higher education will still have a huge role to play in policing as a career, I have lobbied that recruitment needs to be around the calibre of those who apply, not just whether they have, or want to study for, a degree.
I will continue to work constructive with Government, other Commissioners and partners such as the College of Policing to ensure that we have a recruitment programme that delivers outstanding police officers in Lancashire and across the country.
Reopening of Waterfoot Front Counter
I was delighted to see Waterfoot front counter reopen in Summer 2022 and complete the delivery of a promise I made both before and after my election as Commissioner, to ensure each borough area has at the very least, one accessible front counter where the public can report concerns and talk face to face with someone.
This followed the reopening of front counters in Clitheroe, Kirkham and Leyland, delivering on a key election pledge. Community intelligence is really important in taking the fight to criminals and each and every borough of Lancashire now has access to at least one open front counter making it easier for residents to speak to local officers, to raise concerns and to report crime.
Return to 24/7 response policing from Leyland
In July 2022, I joined officers at Leyland Police Station as 24/7 emergency response policing, serving the communities of South Ribble, returned to the police base.
It increases visibility, aids in response to incidents and enhances public confidence. The people of South Ribble, and indeed everyone across Lancashire, can have confidence that Lancashire Constabulary is committed to taking the fight to criminals, getting offenders off our streets and delivering on the priorities in my Police and Crime Plan.
The moving response officers back to Leyland by the Chief Constable is a positive move and is testament to the investment and commitment the force is making in this area. It also builds on the reopening of the front counter in 2021. 38.
Return to traditional police headwear
In August 2022, the Chief Constable and I announced the scrapping of baseball caps and a return to traditional police hats for all officers and PCSOs.
The change was about reinforcing the figures of authority police officers should be in our communities and the uniform and appearance of police officers is an important part of that.
Police Officers are expected to behave and conduct themselves in a professional way that inspires public confidence, so ensuring the uniforms they wear also uphold those standards is important, which is why we took this decision to embrace the long-standing proud heritage of British policing and return to the smarter, traditional headwear – a clear symbol that we expect our county to be policed with pride.
Plans submitted for £75m Lancashire Constabulary HQ overhaul
At the end of 2022, I announced proposed plans for the investment into critical police infrastructure which supports dogs and mounted branch, specialist and technical training, fleet maintenance, cyber and crime teams, contact management and other enabling services, with plans drawn up to modernise the existing headquarters site, located in South Ribble.
They are part of my ten-year plan to improve policing to our communities, with the last investment in the Hutton site back in the 1990s and some buildings nearly 75 years old and at the end of useable lifespan.
This would be a landmark moment for policing and crime prevention in the county, as part of my decadelong plan to ensure Lancashire Constabulary can meet the future needs of operational policing.
Following this, in early 2023, following consultation with members of the public, local businesses and elected representatives, I submitted plans to South Ribble Borough Council for the redevelopment of the site at Saunders Lane and Lindle Lane in Hutton.
New police station for Chorley
In December 2022 I was delighted to announce that I was purchasing Runshaw College’s former Chorley campus, to be developed into a new policing base.
This will serve communities across Chorley and replace the existing dated and not fit for purpose station in town centre.
The new base will be used to host Chorley’s response and neighbourhood policing teams, the area’s Criminal investigation Department (CID) and other specialist teams including one of the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences teams (RASSO).
This is a key part of the overall investment in infrastructure across the Constabulary that I am delivering to ensure we can deliver the policing service the public need and deserve both now and into the future.
That’s what the ten-year plan I announced in my Police and Crime Plan is all about, investment into frontline policing with the resources and infrastructure they need to best serve the public.
Ending of the hybrid model and 24/7 response policing
I have made clear my intention to phase out the ‘Hybrid’ model of policing that was operating in several areas of the county – this saw officers in dual roles that encompassed both neighbourhood policing and response. This isn’t right, every area needs dedicated neighbourhood police teams that proactively work within communities and address concerns.
I was delighted to announce that the Ribble Valley was benefiting from new neighbourhood officers. The change, rolled out by the Chief Constable, delivered on my promise to change the ‘Hybrid’ model and ensure we strengthen local policing across the county.
The additional neighbourhood officers in the Ribble Valley and elsewhere, will provide extra capacity for proactive police work, including public engagement, problem solving and targeting of local offenders.
At the same time, I also announced the return of 24/7 response policing based out of Clitheroe Police Station. This change by Chief Constable further increasing police resources in the area and putting these response officers at the heart of the area they serve which, wherever possible, is the right thing to do.
Both these announcements are great news for Ribble Valley residents and a signal that I am committed to working alongside the Constabulary to direct resources where they are needed and to tackle crime in our communities’ head on.
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