Friday, 11 January 2013

Outgoing reflections

At the end of this month I will be leaving Daventry & South Northants to take up a new post with responsibility for reducing violent crime in Northamptonshire.  A challenging role with a headline grabbing 40% target included within Mr Simmonds (the PCC) manifesto.  This can wait for another day as i'd like to now reflect on what I set out to do in Daventry & S Northants, what was achieved, regrets and looking forward..

I set out in blog three strands to focus on;
  1. Relentless focus on offenders
  2. Adding public value
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
I am pretty satisifed with the focus on offenders.  Some of the most prolific offenders are away in prison and will be until 2014, others are on remand awaiting trail.  This allows a focus on those less prolific and allows flexibility to respond quicker to emerging issues.  The earlier idenitification of those at risk of becoming the next generation of prolific offenders does allow time to be dedicated to diverting them away from a life of crime to ensure reductions in offending continue on into the future.

Public value related to working with others to add value to the communities we serve.  There has been some very good progress in this regard with relationships developing and delivering outcomes between police and statatory partners through the Community Safety Partnership, Local Strategic Partnership and are looking very promising in the newly created Health and Wellbeing Boards.  Outside of these work has moved on a pace with the voluntary and business sectors and looks good to continue to develop in the future.  The Newly formed Domestic Abuse Forum is a good example that I'd like to develop countywide in my new role.

I think communication has increased in volume of content and different media used, including a small explosion(!) in the use of social media by constables and Community Support Officers. 

Individually it is hard, if not impossible to measure the benefits of these activities but the figures that generally get quoted look positive.  All crime year to date is down nearly 9% and there are reductions in house burglary, theft of cars, robbery, violence, domestic violence, ASB and confidence in policing has increased.  The increase seen in thefts from cars is now reducing and fingers crossed, this will be down to no change or better by the end of March!  There may be some correlation!

Regrets?  The main one is leaving behind some really good people, both inside the police and outside who, I think, have started out on a journey that willimprove in time and the people of Daventry & South Northants will continue to benefit from living in safer and more pleasant communities. I also have some small regrets around little things that maybe could have been done a little quicker or slightly different, but these are really lessons to be learnt to adapt and continually improve the way we do things.

As I've said above, I think there is real potential here for even more to be delivered and I am very confident that my successor, Chief Inspector Tom Thompson will build on these foundations and deliver an ever improving service. 

This is the first time I have ever policed the area within which I live and it has been a privilage to serve my friends and neighbours.  I now move on to a countywide remit to reducve violent crime and look forward to sharing with you my initial thoughts on that soon.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

This December......

We have a lot of operational activity planned going through December covering a wide range of issues I thought you might like to be aware of that is over and above normal service.

The Christmas drink drive campaign has started and you will be seeing more officers conducting stops and administering breath tests. Don't be surprised seeing these checks in the morning as well as the normal evening times, as often those that drink heavily in the evening are still over the limit in the morning and completely unaware of this.

Logistics is a major employer in our area and in previous years we have seen a rise in thefts from lorries parked up on the highways and around logistic parks from October through to Christmas.  Across Daventry & South Northants we have deployed additional officers to these areas for the past 2 months and will continue to do so this month.

As a rural area, rural crime is always a concern and to combat this we are increasing the number of patrols in our rural areas, particularly in the early hours after midnight.  It is under the cover of darkness that much rural offending takes place so by taking these steps we aim to make it more 'hostile' for offenders, increasing the likelihood they will be stopped, disrupted and apprehended.

Christmas brings more people into our town centre shopping areas and juggling of shifts combined with management of leave will see more staff patrolling these areas to deter offending and reassure.

The forcewide Operation Challenge focus on violent crime continues through December and the Christmas holiday and Daventry & South Northants will continue to play their full part.  In the main this will be having the right staff policing the night time economy and the ongoing delivery of our successful domestic abuse work. Every domestic incident gets a follow up visit, an assessment completed and by working with other agencies we look to provide those involved with the necessary support to address whatever the causes are.

As well as all of this, we will always be there to provide the 24/7 emergency service you expect to keep you safe so hopefully, everyone can have a safe and secure December.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

It's not all policing

I have previously written about the need for policing to look outwards and work with others that can add value by providing solutions to problems beyond the reach of policing.  Reflecting on my week so far this is very apparent.

On Tuesday I attended the launch of 'Happy at Home'. A voluntary sector project, supported by Lottery funding that over the next 5 years aims to establish a network of volunteers across rural Daventry & South Northants to support elderly people remain independent lives, living in their own homes. As well as directly providing a needed service, this work is also very likely to reduce calls for service to police and other agencies. They've also agreed to distribute police communications as part of information packs.

Later that day I attended a leadership course with delegates from other County Council services associated with Children's services.  Throughout the session in discussions on the changing needs for leadership; more complex environments, more innovative, less transactional, less hierachrical structures and a greater understanding of others and leaving outside our individual areas of authority, it was increasingly apparent that the objectives of one organisation could be better achieved in harmony with another. For example inclusion work with young people in school can benefit policing outcomes through less excluded pupils and associated problems that accompany that, whereas policing can support helping to keep young people within school.

This morning I chaired a Domestic Abuse meeting to consider people that had been involved in Domestic Abuse as both victims and perpetrators.  Present in the meeting are representatives from a variety of organisations offering a range of specialised services including drink/drug, empowerment for victims, challenging behaviours in perpetrators, links to health provision, housing and local authority services.  Following initial police attendance to deal with incidents in the heat of the moment a follow up visit is conducted a day or two later to speak to parties to better assess the causes and was very evident that the solutions in the vast majority of the cases had nothing to do with policing.

My last meeting today was the Community Safety Partnership, a statutory group that identifies local priorities and seeks solutions from within the members or through commissioning from other providers.  Yet another example of joined up working.

The above is all taken from 2 days this week and clearly evidences how intertwined different services now are.  In times of austerity like this with further budget reductions predicted in the next Comprehensive Spending Review the necessity for increased integrated working will increase allowing individual agencies to contract together, with confidence.

Friday, 16 November 2012

A new era, a new start

Firstly, I would like to start with an apology for not writing anything for some time now.  I started this blog with good intentions to keep a regular flow of content but have spectacularly failed to achieve that in recent weeks.  Sorry.

Today has seen the election of the first Police and Crime Commissioners which will take policing into a new era of direction setting and accountability so I thought there can't be a better time to kick start this blog into life again with a renewed vigour and determination to keep it updated regularly.

Since I took up my current role in March there have been many changes to how things are done in Daventry and South Northants.  Some may be getting noticed by the public, others less so and this is still a 'work in progress' but i think progress is being made. 

I feel that I am seeing increased joined up working amongst my staff across teams and between the response, community and pro-active functions.  Officers and PCSO's are out more in their communities, the relationships between police and a variety of other agencies are forming and strengthening.  Closer working with other departments across the Force and operations with neighbouring Forces are paying dividends with increased pro-activity actively targetting those that damage our communities.  Last week saw the first 'High Impact Day' on my District with an additional 70 officers deployed for a day on a variety of tasks. 

All of this gives me a lot of confidence going forward and I look forward to seeing how we can build on this with Mr Simmonds our new PCC.  I have a great team of staff and I'm sure we can continue to improve the service we provide and continue keeping our communities safer.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Evidence Based Policing - update on blog of 11 July 2012

Since publishing my blog on Evidence Based Policing on 11 July this year the presentations discussed are now available to be viewed on the web at

I just wanted to share this with you.


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Increasing Confidence

As I was preparing to take up my post as Commander for Daventry & South Northants the 'Confidence in Policing' measure for South Northants stood out as a concern above all others. In January this year only 57.8% of people were confident in that area. A figure that was significantly lower than all other parts of the County that were all mid to high 60's and into the lower 70%.
South Northants is the lowest crime area of all seven council areas in Northamptonshire, the residents there have the lowest concern of ASB and the lowest fear of crime, so why the low confidence levels.
Examination of the data identified that while the 'yes' answers we're low, the 'no' answers weren't that far removed from other areas.  The main difference was in the number of  'don't knows', so while people recognised it is a very safe place they couldn't see what the police did to contribute to this with regular feedback being a desire to see more visible policing.
The approach taken to improve the performance has been to communicate more with a wide a cross spectrum of the population as possible by a variety of methods, relying on the 1:10:100 ratios theory for 1 to tell 10 to tell 100 and spread the word.
We have embraced a greater use of social media, in particular Twitter, localised newsletters, increasing contact with Parish Councils and other groups, worked closer with the District Council and shared communications.  More fundamentally there has been an encouragement for officers and PCSO's to spend as much time out of the stations on patrol and for response officers to stop, get out of their cars and talk to the public.
Operationally, we have remained fixed on targeting those who commit crime and working with an ever increasing range of other agencies.
The outcome of all this?  Well the Confidence figure has gone up from 57.8% to 66.2% in only seven months, a very significant rate of change, but not only has confidence gone up, crime has fallen in every category with the headline figure for all reported crime being over 14% down.
As ever with policing, identifying what action(s) caused what outcome is difficult and open to debate, but something appears to be working!
As a final thought, Peel's Principles upon which modern policing in this country have been built include, 'The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police dealing with it'.  How does this fit into the above passage and increasing performance against the 'Confidence' measure?

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The week that began on 13th August

It's Saturday morning, the sun is out and it's therefore a ideal time to look back through my diary and see what I've been up to over the past week.
Monday seems a lifetime away, but it kicked the week off with a 10am meeting with Chris Wright, who is head of ISD to discuss mobile data and telephony.  Those of you who may have called the Force will have found the changes which we hope connect you with the right person first time.  My role in this is ensuring that on those occasions when  voice messages are left we are confident they are being picked up and promptly returned.  Daventry & South Northants District has been the first to roll out some new technology in this area and will make a useful comparison to other areas of the Force. There is nothing as frustrating as calling an organisation, leaving a message and then not hearing anything.  We don't want that to be an experience we provide.
We have over the past few years introduced a number of mobile functions to Blackberry devices carried by officers, but usage is variable amongst staff.  Why? Have we just dumped 'gadgets' people don't want or see the benefit of? Something to look into and explore with those that provide the front line service.
Next up was a short visit to HR to agree implementation of a Sergeants new flexible shift pattern followed by a briefing with the Architectural Liaison Officer to have an understanding of the larger planning developments in South Northants ahead of a meeting with council officials on Wednesday.  Unfortunately this meeting was cancelled to be rearranged but it is important to know the possible changing landscape of your area to ensure future plans consider the projected changes.
The strategic ASB meeting followed.  ASB levels are considerably lower than previously and the focus in this area now needs to move from the numbers of incidents to the quality of service provided.
The day was wrapped up discussing Approved Professional Practice (APP).  APP is an ACPO led piece of work to reduce the amount of bureaucracy by cutting back the amount of national guidance, policy and doctrine.  In my last role in ACPO Central I was present at the birth of APP so its nice to meet it again to consider how its implementation will impact locally.
Tuesday only had two scheduled meetings.  The first was with Danny Moody from the Northamptonshire County Association of Local Councils.  A body I wasn't familiar with before but one that presents a real opportunity for us to develop work together to strengthen links between police and local parish and town councils and improve the service to communities.  One thing we are going to progress is the development of a menu of opportunities that could be available for councils to fund if they wished.  This needs consideration but could range from neighbourhood watch work to a PCSO and many points in between.
I left this meeting felling very enthusiastic and returned to Daventry to meet a sergeant I am mentoring.  I think it is very important as a leader to develop the next generation.
Wednesday morning was free due to the earlier mentioned cancelled meeting which allowed me to catch up with my admin.  The catch up drag from holiday is still there! 
The first engagement of the day was therefore at 12pm with Finance, and I'm very pleased to say that the budget is slightly underspent and on target for the year so reassured the good performance we are delivering is good value for money.  From there it was off to County Hall to meet C. Supt Phillips who is leading the 'Troubled families' work within the County.  There are a lot of links between this and my District's plans around adding public value.  It was useful to talk things through and consider where the links with the District would be best.
Thursday was Inspectors meetings to review their work, plans and any issues they may be facing.  These are really useful for me to be confident everything is correctly aligned and work is progressing.  What is really great is the work they bring to me.  We want to have a culture in the District where all staff are innovative and creative and this is now starting to bear fruit with some really good ideas coming forward.  Details to follow in later blogs as they become reality.
Friday started with a presentation on how the changes to the booking of leave and overtime will function following the 'go live' of a new system as part of the Multi Force Shared Service work being conducted with Cheshire Police.  Looks very simple and easy to use and should reduce time spent on admin.  A quick meeting with the Intelligence DCI - enjoying a great relationship with Intel and seeing some good crime results from it!
Last of the week was to meet the new Force Chaplain.  Very positive, lovely lady and I'm sure she'll bring a fresh perspective to many of the things we do and how they are done.
That was this week.  Next week starts on Monday with a day considering applications for promotion to Sergeant.
I hope this is of interest, I thought it may be useful to see the breadth of what I get up to.