Update on the response to coronavirus
As we are all aware the impact of the coronavirus on our everyday lives already is and will continue to be significant and the situation is continually changing.
Thames Valley Police and the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner are, as you would expect, implementing business continuity plans. Significant work is going on within the police along with other partner agencies to ensure that the Force can continue to keep the public safe and support other critical services at the difficult time.
I will continue to work closely with the Force through the planning that is taking place. We are fortunate to have a hugely dedicated workforce of police officers and staff who are doing everything they can to ensure that critical services continue in order to protect us all. At the outset I would like to thank all of them for the amazing work they are already doing and the commitment they have shown to the difficult task ahead in the coming weeks and months.
At a time when may people feel helpless it is worth remembering there is also something we can do. To limit non-essential calls on the NHS, police and other essential services so that they can focus on those who need their help most; to follow the Government's advice on social distancing and self isolation; to moderate our shopping habits to ensure we only buy the food and goods we really need; and really importantly to look after one another. Whether it be relatives, friends or neighbours, many people will find themselves in need of support. Many local charities, churches and voluntary groups have already stepped up to the challenge - if you are in a position to add your help please do whatever you can.
As a country, as a species, we are faced with a massive challenge. It is however one that we must face head on. We all have a role to play, even if that is simply by staying at home. The work of our health, care and emergency services are critical but so is each an every one of us.
More than 10 years in prison for drug distribution
Following an investigation by Thames Valley Police Serious and Organised Crime Unit, a man has been sentenced to 10 years and eight months’ imprisonment for his role in organised crime groups which made millions of pounds supplying drugs across the South of England.
Organised crime group members from Reading, Spain, Liverpool, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, London, and Southend-on-Sea supplied drugs which were then stored in Didcot, Newbury, Reading and Hemel Hempstead.
The drugs were then prepared for onward distribution to people in Avon and Somerset, Swindon, Oxford, Reading and Didcot.
Mark Rumble, aged 31, formerly of Dunsden Close, Didcot, was an enforcer, courier, storer and distributor within the drugs network.
Rumble was jailed at a hearing at Oxford Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply cannabis, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply methoxamine. The offences took place between 30 July 2014 and 12 March 2015.
During this police operation which was given the code name Samba, 18 defendants were brought before the courts with a total of 115 years and three months’ jail time being handed down.
PCC secures additional taser funding
The Home Office has announced that the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley has secured funding for 140 new tasers, as part of a new fund.
This is an additional £115,500 funding for the area from a £10m ring fenced pot of centrally funded money for the equipment.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Matthew Barber, said: “We welcome the news that the Thames Valley will receive an additional £115,500 towards funding this important equipment. Tasers will be given to specially trained frontline staff to protect themselves and others in potentially dangerous situations.
“It is vital that our officers are appropriately equipped to deal with a variety of situations in their role and this funding will help us to provide them with the best equipment to do that.
“We’re delighted to be able to equip more staff appropriately in the fight against violent crime.”
Tackling serious violence across Thames Valley
Work is taking place by police officers, staff and partner agencies across the Thames Valley to prevent serious violence in our communities.
In the vast majority of cases, victims and offenders are known to each other, and do not pose a threat to the wider public.
A number of different enforcement and engagement activities have been taking place in recent months focussing people aged 25 and under, and will continue as part of Thames Valley Police’s commitment to our communities.
These activities include:
- Intelligence led patrols
- Increased use of stop and search under Section 60 powers where appropriate
- Executing warrants
- Introduction of permanent knife amnesty bins across the Thames Valley
- Use of knife arches and knife wands by officers
- Early intervention work including officers visiting schools to talk to students
In particular increased use of stop and search powers has been impactful in further disrupting serious violence and those who look to carry it out. Between April and December last year, the force executed 10,305 stop and searches, an increase of 76.3% from the same period the previous year as well as utilising Section 60 powers when necessary.
There is also a wide range of police activity which will be less visible to the public.
In January 2020, Thames Valley Police along with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley and Reading FC launched the DIVERT programme, the first force outside of London to pilot this approach.
The programme is designed to prevent young people who have been arrested in relation to an offence from re-entering the criminal justice system. The criminal justice process is not disrupted by DIVERT, the young person will still be dealt with appropriately for any offences under investigation, however they have an opportunity to be supported away from crime.
The scheme has shown benefits elsewhere and Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner is leading work with Reading Football Club Community Trust in order to provide this mentor and to bring this innovative approach to our area.
The Police & Crime Commissioner has established a Violence Reduction Unit to work with the police and other agencies to bring down exploitation and violence in our communities.
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber said: “We’re excited to see projects like the Divert scheme come to fruition as part of the work to establish our Violence Reduction Unit.
“A huge part of our work is to help fund programmes which support young people and also tackle issues around violent crime. We have done a lot of educational work as part of our Early Intervention Youth Fund to educate young people and professionals around the Thames Valley on a number of topics which all link in to this wider issue of serious violence. This work continues now with the Violence Reduction Unit which is funding programmes such as Divert, where partnership collaboration is at the heart, to see what further strides can be made towards safer communities.”
PCC elections postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak
Elections across the country have been postponed until May 2021. Elections were due to take place across the whole of the Thames Valley for the Police & Crime Commissioner and in most areas for local councillors.
Legislation will be introduced this week which will see the term of office for the current Police & Crime Commissioner extended for a further year to avoid the additional risk to the public that an election would pose not to mention the significant resources that go into running an election.
All of the elections that were due to take place this year are now expected to be held on Thursday 6th May 2021, along with those already scheduled for that date.
Make your voice heard to help shape the future!
The role of the Police & Crime Commissioner includes holding to Chief Constable to account, setting the council tax precept for policing, commissioning services for victims of crime, funding community safety partnerships and setting the policing priorities for the Thames Valley.
I want to know your views about policing where you live. Please spare a few moments to complete my short survey and tell me what you think is going well and what can be done better. Click the button below or visit www.matthewbarber.co.uk/haveyoursay.