Positive response from public over Wiltshire Police approach to COVID19

Alert message sent 06/07/2020 11:21:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police

The majority of people feel confident that Wiltshire Police is doing the best it can to manage the policing response to the COVID19 pandemic, according to a public survey.

More than 2,800 people responded to our public survey last month, which aimed to find out more about opinions on policing during lockdown.

Most positively, more than 80 per cent of respondents felt that engagement from their local policing team had either increased or stayed the same during the pandemic.

And almost 59 per cent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I feel confident that Wiltshire Police are doing all they can to manage the policing response to COVID19”.

However, concerns were raised by those who had reported breaches of lockdown to the police and felt that more should have been done to respond to those reports.

Less than one in five respondents had needed to contact us, but of those (518 people) only 30 per cent felt their matter was addressed fully and 30 per cent felt it was progressed quickly.

Assistant Chief Constable Deb Smith said she was pleased the Force had been able to maintain public confidence during such an uncertain and difficult time, but accepted that we hadn’t always got it right.

She said: “Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we have the support and confidence of our communities and I believe that the results of this survey show that we have been able to maintain that positive relationship with the public.

“Communication has been key and I am pleased to see that the vast majority of those who responded to the survey believe that our engagement has either stayed the same or increased during the pandemic.

“It is clear that our social media accounts are a large part of this, and I know that people have felt reassured that they have a trusted source to turn to during such worrying times.”

She added: “However, it is also clear that there are some areas which could have been better dealt with, particularly how we responded to those people who reported breaches of COVID 19 restrictions.

“We acknowledge that in the early stages we couldn’t deploy officers to every single report, we did not have the capacity to deal with that level of demand.

“Also, it is important to note that police forces across the country have been managing a difficult balancing act – we needed to respond to the concerns of the public, while ensuring we were behaving in a lawful and proportionate way.

“I’m not sure we always got that balance right, but we have tried our very best to focus on engagement over enforcement, and I do applaud all our officers and staff for their dedication and hard work during a difficult time.”

ACC Smith added that the type of work carried out by Wiltshire Police during the pandemic had changed, but not reduced, with a greater focus placed on proactive operations and dealing with the rising levels of certain types of crime, such as domestic abuse and child abuse.

She said: “It is true that at the height of lockdown the world of policing changed dramatically.

“We naturally saw a dramatic reduction in crimes such as shoplifting, burglary and trouble linked to the night-time economy.

“However, that gave us the opportunity to focus on other areas, including organised crime groups and County Lines drugs gangs – with a number of successful operations to disrupt this illegal activity across the county.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said the public survey had been an important way of giving the people of Swindon and Wiltshire an opportunity to give feedback to the police.

He said: “A large part of my role is engaging with our communities to understand their views and opinions of local policing, and I believe this survey has been a hugely successful way of gaining important feedback – so thank you to everyone who took the time to respond.

“Another engagement tool which has been highly successful is our Community Messaging service, which has allowed people to provide us with key information and intelligence around the issues which matter to them and in turn has led to us carrying out targeted work on proactive operations and community concerns such as speeding.

“Throughout the pandemic I have been closely involved and fully briefed on the operational policing response, and I have a key part to play in scrutinising and holding the force to account.

“I am aware of the survey responses from those who reported lockdown breaches and were dissatisfied with how it was dealt with by the police, and this is something I have questioned senior leaders about.

“However, I have been fully supportive of the national approach of police forces prioritising engagement first, and turning to enforcement only if necessary, so I believe Wiltshire Police has done its very best under difficult circumstances.”

To read a summary of the public survey results please go to the Wiltshire Police website https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/media/5078/Covid-Survey-Public-Summary/pdf/Public_survey_280520.pdf?m=637296270350070000 or the Police and Crime Commissioner's website https://www.wiltshire-pcc.gov.uk/media/5078/Covid-Survey-Public-Summary/pdf/Public_survey_280520.pdf?m=637296270350070000.
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Siobhan Stayt (Police, Media Officer, Wiltshire)

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