Coronavirus enforcement update
Only a year ago the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions on our lives would have been unthinkable, yet as we settle in to the third national lockdown the need for us all to stay at home and limit unnecessary social contact is clear. As death from COVID-19 reach another tragic high we all have a role to plan in limiting the spread of the virus.
None of us welcome the restrictions on our daily lives, and there is understandable frustration from many as our normal way of life is curtailed. However we must hope that with the vaccine rolling out at a growing rate, this is the last time we will need to endure such national restrictions.
Throughout the pandemic Thames Valley Police have been at the forefront of supporting the NHS in their efforts to protect us all. Enforcement of the rules has been key, and although the Force will continue with the four stage approach - to Engage, Educate, Encourage and only then to Enforce - in cases where people are deliberately flouting the rules the move to enforcement will be much quicker.
The vast majority of people are sticking to the guidance, managing to limit their contacts and when they must leave their homes, doing so within the law. Police officers across Thames Valley continue to deal with the normal daily issues of crime and public protection alongside the role of enforcing the coronavirus regulations. The virus is another threat to officers who often have to be in close contact with people in an already dangerous job.
The approach from Thames Valley will continue to be proportionate and appropriate, focussing on those cases where people's reckless behaviour may cause a danger to public health. It is vitally important the confidence in policing is maintained throughout the pandemic and so the Force will continue to enforce the rules with common sense in order to maintain public trust whilst also protecting us all from those who insist on recklessly breaking the rules.
In instances were there are egregious breach of the rules the public would expect the police to deal with them swiftly as with any instance were someone is endangering the lives of others.
As well as the wearing of face coverings which is mandatory in public indoor spaces we should remember that hand washing remains key to preventing the transmission of the virus, especially if people are out of their homes for work, essential shopping or exercise. Evidence is still unclear on how the new variant is spreading more quickly, but surface contact remains a significant risk of transmission and hand washing can be all too easily overlooked.
If anyone has concerns about breaches of coronavirus regulations these can be reported to Thames Valley Police online or by calling 101.
Most of us are complying with the guidelines and we all have a duty to continue to hold the line in order to turn the tide on the virus. Although we have some of the toughest weeks still ahead of us, as the vaccine coverage spreads we can look forward a brighter future in the months to come.
Police funding survey
At the end of last year, the Home Office announced the funding settlement for police across the country for the next financial year. In Thames Valley, this means an additional £12.6m in Government grant to pay for an additional 179 police officers. The increase in officers is the second part of the national uplift programme that will see 20,000 additional officers across the country by March 2023. In the Thames Valley, we have already recruited the extra 183 officers funded from the 2020/21 budget.
Despite the increase in funding from government, there continue to be cost pressures on the Force and the public rightly expect to see improving performance in order to keep us all safe and bring criminals to justice. Alongside the funding from the Home Office, the Government has also allowed Police & Crime Commissioners to increase council tax by up to £15 (for a Band D property) in order to make additional investments in policing. In Thames Valley that means that for less than 29p a week for the average household (Band D property) more than £13m could be invested in frontline policing.
In previous years, the support of local tax payers through their council tax has meant that we have managed to reduce the time it takes for the police to answer non-urgent 101 calls and to significantly increase detection rates, meaning that more victims of crime receive justice and more criminals are held to account.
It is important that any increase in council tax now, at a time when many families are struggling, is focussed on frontline policing to tackle the concerns of the public. I am proud of the work done by Thames Valley Police Officers, PCSOs, staff and volunteers every single day, but there is always more that can be done.
Final decisions on council tax and budget priorities will be made in February and by contributing your views now you can help play your part in shaping how Thames Valley Police continues to improve and tackle crime across our community.
The survey closes at 5pm on Wednesday 20th January 2021.
Your questions answered live on Zoom
Now that we are in lockdown number 3 I am continuing my serious of online Police & Crime Conversations. In normaly times these would be physical meetings in communities across Thames Valley, and much as we all hope to get back to normality as soon as possible we can take advantage of technology to bring more people together more easily.
If you have any questions, views or concerns about policing and crime issues across Thames Valley or some of the major national issues that impact on policing in our community why not join the conversation? Simply log on to Zoom and join me as I answer your questions.
Thursday 14th January, 7pm on Zoom - Click here to join
Thursday 28th January, 7pm on Zoom - Click here to register
Monday 1st March, 7pm on Zoom - Click here to register
Life sentence for Reading terrorist attack
A terrorist found guilty of the brutal murder of three men in Reading last summer has been given whole life sentence.
The 26 year old Khairi Saadallah from Reading, pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder at the Old Bailey in November. He was given life and also sentenced to 24 years' imprisonment for each of the three attempted murder charges to run concurrently. He will serve a life sentence without any possibility of parole or conditional release.
On 20 June last year, Saadallah stabbed James Furlong, 36, David Wails, 49, and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, aged 39 while they were enjoying an evening in Forbury Gardens. He also wounded a number of other men before fleeing the scene.
He was pursued by an off duty Thames Valley Police officer and arrested shortly afterwards. Counter Terrorism Policing South East then led the investigation into the murders.
Matthew Barber, Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner, said: "I welcome the whole life order for Saadallah, but we must remember that nothing can bring back those who lost their lives last summer. Our thoughts are with their friends and families who still suffer for this tragic loss.
"On the day we saw a fantastic response from Thames Valley Police and the other emergency services and from day one, Counter Terrorism Policing South East have led an incredibly professional investigation to ensure that Saadallah was brought to justice."
The Police & Crime Commissioner's victims service, Victim's First, is working to support those affected by this horrific attack. Anyone wanting support as a result of this or any other crime can contact Victims First on 0300 1234 148 or at victims-first.org.uk.
I want to know you views on policing and crime in Thames Valley
Police & Crime Survey 2021
I want to know your views on policing in Thames Valley. I have set out my priorities for the future in my draft Police & Criminal Justice Plan, but I want to know what you think. Click here to complete my survey now.
Business Crime Survey
Crime doesn't just affect individuals. You might be a business owner, an employee or a sole trader - I want to know about your experience of business crime and how it has impacted you. Please take a minute to complete my survey today.