HMICFRS: State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2020
Response from: Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Hampshire
At the time of HMICFRS writing the Annual Assessment of policing 2020, 30 police officers and staff in England and Wales lost their lives to COVID-19. This global pandemic has brought challenges previously never faced, with government imposed lockdowns and restrictions we all have had to adapt and change our everyday actions and behaviours. With the challenges of COVID-19, this also brought about opportunities for those criminally minded. The pandemic provided Organised Crime Groups with new opportunities to enlarge and diversify their activities which caused further severe harm to the public, e.g. selling counterfeit, unregulated PPE. Hampshire Constabulary adapted its response to crime on the ground and virtually, with lessons being learnt feeding back into Op Talla (College of Policing) to inform nationally the policing response during the pandemic.
While the lockdown restrictions were intended to keep the public safe, for those living with their abuser it reduced a victim’s ability to seek help and support. During the first lockdown, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline logged 65% more contacts and calls compared to the previous three months. There was also a noticeable increase in DA-related demand for Victim Support services in the weeks following the easing of lockdown measures. We also need to recognise those who are lonely in our communities, the addition of COVID only exacerbated this, especially those digitally excluded. While the prevalence of door-step frauds reduced in lockdown, criminals have diversified with frauds and scams, any crime prevention messaging needs to go beyond the use of digital methods.
The already chronic backlogs in court cases increased as a result of the pandemic. Between February 2020 and December 2020, we saw an increase of 57% in the backlog of magistrates’ court trials, and an increase of 65% in the number of cases waiting to be heard at Crown Court. In my role as Chair of the Local Criminal Justice Board I will be advocating for victims in my region to ensure all that can be done, is done, to ensure victims are kept at the heart of the investigatory process.
As a newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner I am committed to working hard to ensure that local residents get the most out of their local policing teams and that they have quick access to the support services they need. My role as APCC Joint Lead for Victims allows for a national platform to drive policy and commitment to making positive change, while locally I am determined that our streets and homes become safe places for all.
Looking back at the past 12 months, policing has had to make radical changes to ensure victims of crime during times of COVID-19 were able to access the call for help if needed. The next 12months undoubtedly will bring new challenges to policing, as PCC I look forward to working alongside Hampshire Constabulary and our partners to ensure residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight continue to receive a dedicated service and access support when needed.
Police and Crime Commissioner