South Wales Police take bold moves to reflect thecommunities they serve

An initiative by the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, backed by the Chief Constable, sets out to bring about positive change in the officers and staff of South Wales Police to represent the communities it serves.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, spoke in October at the National Black Police Association Conference of the low numbers of black and ethnic minority (BME) officers within the police service. She said: “If police forces do not truly represent the people they serve, if they are not made up of men and women of all backgrounds, if they do not properly reflect the communities where local officers police, then we cannot truly say the police are the public, and the public are the police”.

An initiative by the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, backed by the Chief Constable, has already set out to bring about that positive change in the officers and staff of South Wales Police.

In South Wales 6.7% of the population are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, but currently only 2.1% of South Wales Police officers are from these backgrounds. A recently-launched scheme aims to change this and create a policing tradition within some of the lesser-represented communities, where future generations grow up with aspirations to join the police having seen positive, strong role models.

Early 2015 saw the conclusion of a South Wales Police and Police and Crime Commissioner joint thematic review into BME Recruitment and Progression. This led to the development of the South Wales Police Action Plan for BME Recruitment, Progression and Retention. In April the Representative Workforce Team was set up to look at how this could be achieved and to kick off the project. Six months later, the force has seen a rise in applications from 2.1% in previous campaigns to over 5% from BME backgrounds.

In October, 40 Black and Minority Ethnic candidates started a 23-week Certificate of Knowledge in Policing course, which is being bursary-funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable. The Certificate is a national qualification based on an extensive syllabus including elements of the law, police procedures, general police duties and crime specific definitions, aiming to equip potential candidates with relevant knowledge to start a career in the police service.

Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, Alun Michael said:

“Our communities have told us about reluctance for BME people to consider policing as a career for a number of different reasons – including the fact that currently they see very few BME role models in the police service itself. Unless BME people in our communities see more racial diversity amongst our officers, this will be a vicious circle that we cannot break. We will not accept that as part of our future.

“Our decision to provide a bursary for the Certificate of Knowledge in Policing to applicants from BME backgrounds is a bold one and one that we hope will encourage more people to think about a career with South Wales Police. We are aware that the financial implications of seeking this qualification can deter people from lesser represented backgrounds, and that’s why we are taking positive action in order to remove barriers that may stand in their way.”

Having the Certificate does not guarantee a job with the police, but it is a prerequisite for the application process. When recruitment for police officers opens next year, those who have this qualification will be able to apply, so at least the pool of candidates will be more representative than it has been in the past.

Assistant Chief Constable Jon Stratford said:

“I strongly support this approach, and we are also helping would-be applicants through a mentoring programme. I’m pleased that so many of our officers and staff have volunteered to help in that process because it’s all about helping people to be the high calibre and well-prepared candidates that we are looking for to join South Wales Police. By investing now to increase our representation, we aim to develop a proud policing tradition within all communities and improve community relations. A career with the police service is rewarding and challenging and there are many different opportunities for personal and professional development and progression”.

The strategy put in place by South Wales Police is to attract, recruit and retain police officers from a broad range of communities. Emphasis is currently attracting and supporting potential candidates and outreach events have taken place in more than 30 locations in the last 6 months. Candidates are allocated a Development Champion from within the force as soon as they show interest in joining, and these champions are experienced members of staff who provide support during the application and interview preparation process. The force currently has a number of recruitment campaigns running and has a forward plan for the next five years.

Charles Lan, who was born in Beijing, was one of the first successful applicants to come through the mentoring process under this new approach and has just started as a PCSO in Swansea.

“It’s a job with a purpose and has a real meaning. Charles explained. “Today we live in a multicultural society and I can help the police better engage in that diverse community. I know how to interact with people from certain other ethnic backgrounds.

“I think if a police officer is from a similar background, the people in that community might not fear the police.”

If you are interested in finding out more information about the support that South Wales Police are offering, please email: joinus@south-wales.pnn.police.uk

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Commissioner’s Plan to make South Wales even safer wins Police & Crime Panel’s approval

Early intervention and prompt positive action to help prevent problems before they escalate is at the heart of a five year plan for policing South Wales, approved by the South Wales Police and Crime Panel today.

The plan is based on close co-operation with partners in local government, the health service and the voluntary sector, as well as Welsh Government, and sets out six priorities for keeping our communities safe. It reinforces the South Wales Police vision to make the force the best at understanding and responding to its communities’ needs.

Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael has legal responsibility to set local priorities for policing – and in South Wales this is done through teamwork with Chief Constable Peter Vaughan and his team, as well as listening to the views of the public and partner organisations.

Mr Michael said: “Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour are at historically low levels yet demand for police services remains high at a time when we are faced with austerity and cutbacks. Constant innovation is needed to sustain public services and to improve the wellbeing of all our communities and future generations.

“Early Intervention combined with prompt, positive action will be our focus as we strive to protect the most vulnerable. Co-operation with other organisations and with our communities is the overarching principle which inspires us – together we can achieve more than we can achieve alone. At a time when some other police forces are threatening to retreat from neighbourhood policing, this plan makes clear that local working with communities will be more important to us than ever.”

Chief Constable Peter Vaughan said: “The police are often the first agency to be in contact with children or families in need of help. We want to be part of the solution that can help the vulnerable before reaching the point where they need the emergency services.

“Early Intervention helps prevent problems before they escalate, stops people from becoming victims, diverts people away from crime and reduces demand on the police and our partners. It means swiftly identifying issues and working with partners to find sustainable solutions, leading to prompt positive action.”

The full police and crime plan, together with an executive summary including achievements to date and ambitions for the future, can be found at …………

http://commissioner.south-wales.police.uk/en/us/police-crime-reduction-plan-2016-2021-and-executive-summary/

Child Advocates scheme aims to help youngsters at risk of sexual exploitation

Children who go missing from home and are at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE) can now talk to their own Advocates as part of a bid by South Wales Police to help keep them safe. The initiative is the result of a partnership, led by Police and Crime Commissioner,  Alun Michael, between South Wales Police and Barnardo’s Cymru

Four Child Advocates have now joined officers at South Wales Police to help tackle child sexual exploitation. And a launch event in Cardiff gave an opportunity for the project partners to talk to stakeholders, to raise awareness of the Child Advocacy project, and to explore opportunities to sustain this vital role after a successful bid to the Innovation Fund secures the four Child Advocate posts for two years.

“Often young people are not willing to disclose the severity of the issues they are experiencing to figures of authority, such as doctors, teachers or police officers,” said Mr Michael today.  This view was echoed in a thematic review of Child Sexual Exploitation, requested by the Commissioner and the Chief Constable, which endorsed the need for a “debriefing” service for missing children to engage with young people who are vulnerable and in danger of becoming sexually exploited.

The Child Advocates are experienced in communicating with young people in a sensitive manner that encourages them to share what’s going on in their lives. In partnership, South Wales Police and Barnardo’s Cymru will train, supervise and monitor the work of the Child Advocates.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Sophie Howe, said:

“Children at risk of sexual exploitation are some of the most vulnerable in society. By working in partnership with Barnardo’s Cymru and developing this specialist Child Advocate role, we can reach out to vulnerable children and young people.

“The debriefing service will give us the opportunity to intervene and help prevent sexual exploitation taking place, and to protect and support the young person if they have been a victim of abuse.

“As we gain more disclosures from young people, data collection will become more robust, enabling South Wales Police to continue to develop strategies in partnership with a range of agencies to better protect young people and ensure perpetrators of child sexual exploitation are prevented from causing harm.”

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Holland, South Wales Police, said:

“We are committed to tackling child sexual exploitation in south Wales, and the development of the Child Advocate role is a significant step towards achieving this.

“We recognise that vulnerable young people need to feel safe, secure and comfortable before they can disclose sensitive information, and the four Child Advocates have the skills to facilitate this.”

”With the knowledge and information gained we can then help ensure that any safeguarding measures required are put in place for the child or young person, and we can pursue the perpetrators.”

Yvonne Rodgers, Director, Barnardo’s Cymru said:

“Since starting this work in Wales ten years ago, we have been clear that multi-agency working is key to tackling child sexual exploitation.

“We bring to this partnership our established practice expertise and our absolute commitment to working with others to keep children and young people safe.

“Child sexual exploitation is a complex form of abuse which can leave victims feeling both dependent on and terrified of perpetrators. They are left feeling that there is no-one they can trust and that perhaps nobody will believe them anyway.

“I am confident that through this partnership we will help children and young people feel that there are people they can trust, people who will believe them and people who will keep them safe.”

Alun Michael pledges “We won’t walk away from neighbourhood policing”

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael, has criticised comments by senior officers in England about the days of ‘Bobbies on the Beat’ being numbered and promises “In South Wales we won’t walk away from neighbourhood policing”.

Responding to comments by senior officers in England that the days of bobbies on the beat are numbered, South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said:

“This is a quite old-fashioned debate because the idea of police officers wandering the streets without a clear sense of purpose went out 20 years ago. In South Wales we are making best use of the additional PCSOs provided by Welsh Government to work ever more closely with our communities and we won’t be following the line taken by some English police forces who are walking away from neighbourhood policing.

“At a time when the number of police officers in South Wales has been reduced from 3,400 to 2,800 as a result of the cuts posed by the UK Government it’s ever more important to work closely with our communities and with our partners in local government and health and the voluntary sector – so the message from me and from the Chief Constable is that in South Wales we will ‘shrink together, not shrink apart’ because we can do more together to maintain safe, healthy communities than any of us can by working alone in silos of reactive service delivery. With such deep cuts year-on-year – and with more to come – this isn’t easy but it’s the only wise way to plan ahead.”

Agreement binds police and health services together in South Wales

A ground-breaking new agreement to connect policing and health services in South Wales has been launched by the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Chief Constable and the Chief Executive and Chair of Public Health Wales.  It commits South Wales Police and the health service to work ever more closely to tackle the factors that cause both crime and ill-health.

Commissioner Alun Michael has long advocated a “public health approach to crime” since the time, as a Home Office Minister, he promoted the idea of being “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime”.  And he welcomed today’s agreement as a “major step forward in  putting principles into practice”.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed on 21 October 2015 at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay will ensure the agencies work in partnership to identify and overcome common challenges, taking a scientific approach and sharing analysis and evaluation.

The agreement will ensure an evidence-based approach to the prevention and reduction of ill-health and crime, and better targeting and evaluation to improve services provided to the public by South Wales Police and Public Health Wales.

The agreement will also make sure that the police and Public Health Wales continue to work closely to prepare and respond to emergency situations including threats from natural disasters, terrorism and other major incidents.

Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, Alun Michael, said:

“This Memorandum of Understanding is a ground-breaking agreement which will provide a closer working relationship between South Wales Police and Public Health Wales.

“Through a more defined relationship we will be able better to identify individuals at an early stage and intervene to prevent crime and keep vulnerable individuals from entering the criminal justice process.

“There are both health benefits and policing benefits if we can do more together to tackle key issues including violence on streets, excessive drinking, substance misuse, domestic violence and mental health issues.  Key principles include early intervention and prevention of harm.

“We are establishing an agreed programme of work based on the priorities contained within both the Police and Crime Reduction Plan 2015-18 and Public Health Wales’ 2015-2018 Strategic Plan. It will reflect the underlying principle of mutual benefit in order to effectively and efficiently deliver health, wellbeing and safer communities for people living in Wales.”

Chief Constable of South Wales Police Peter Vaughan added:

“By coming together today we have been able to set out a plan for the future, drawing upon the skills and expertise of both organisations to create a long term sustainable plan for closer collaboration.

“We will be able to identify common problems and understand the challenges we face and will progress the delivery of joint priorities from the wider perspective of both public health and criminal justice, with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention.”

Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of Public Health Wales, said:

“We are looking forward to working in close collaboration with our colleagues in the police. Many of our goals and aspirations are shared, especially around taking early action to ensure young people in Wales are supported to live healthy and crime-free lives.

“This Memorandum of Understanding is an important first step in our collaboration with the police in South Wales, which will deliver real benefits to the public as well as to police and public health services. By pooling our resources and working towards the same goals, we can make a much bigger difference to people’s lives.”

Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB, Chair of Public Health Wales, said:

“This memorandum represents a wider shift in the way agencies are responding to the challenges we face in Wales.  We can no longer afford to work in isolation.  We must work together to align our resources and our goals to improve health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities, and reduce crime.

“This important agreement recognises that ill-health and crime disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable in society. This commitment will help all three agencies to get support into communities that need it most.”

Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy, Research and International Development for Public Health Wales said:

“Tackling alcohol and drug related problems, road traffic injuries, child abuse, and domestic violence are just a few of challenges faced by both public health and policing organisations.

“This Memorandum of Understanding outlines how Public Health Wales, South Wales Police, and the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales will work together and respond to these challenges by providing support for those affected and critically by tackling the causes ill health and criminal behaviour.”

The memorandum was signed by the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Alun Michael, the Chief Constable of South Wales Police Peter Vaughan QPM, the Chief Executive of Public Health Wales Dr Tracey Cooper, and the Chair of Public Health Wales Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB.

The signing of the memorandum was witnessed by Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM.

Home Secretary risks confusion over PCSOs and Volunteers, says Alun Michael

The Home Secretary’s initiative to change the role of PCSOs and to give powers to a new range of volunteers is a mistake that would cause confusion, says Alun Michael, the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.

“This consultation is unsettling for communities, is muddled in its approach and risks causing confusion and unnecessary fears in the communities of South Wales,” he said.  “There’s no need for it because there is already flexibility in the system, and Theresa May’s suggestion would reduce flexibility as well as confusing everyone.

“I would like to reassure all of our communities in South Wales that irrespective of this consultation, we will not be replacing our PCSOs with volunteers and we will not be retreating from the emphasis we place on community policing, which is at the heart of our approach in South Wales. The Chief Constable, Peter Vaughan and I are united in this approach.

“The impact of PSCOs in Wales is already greater than in England – they have comparatively few PCSOs in London for example and that is part of the problem. Because of the priorities given by Welsh Government we have an additional 205 PSCOs in South Wales and wherever I go I hear of the value that is placed on them by local communities, councillors and everyone else.

“Theresa May suggests that we should recruit more volunteers but that is already happening without her suggesting it – we don’t need top-down creation of new categories by the Home Office. We greatly value the volunteers who inspect custody facilities and those who volunteer as special constables and in a variety of other roles. We are recruiting more special constables over the coming months because their numbers in South Wales had dropped significantly and I would invite anyone who is willing to volunteer in any capacity in South Wales to get in touch with me – we value your contribution.

“Police Officers are under greater pressure than ever before because of the swingeing cuts that were imposed by the coalition government over the last five years and we know that we are going to have even greater cuts over the next four years. That can’t be ignored and our police officers deserve your respect, support and encouragement as we seek to do more with less and to avoid any diminution in the quality of policing in South Wales.

“We will face the challenges ahead by continuing to place neighbourhood policing at the heart of our approach and will not be implementing the changes outlined by the Home Office. What we need now is to support our police officers and PCSOs in getting on with the job of engaging with our communities and keeping South Wales safe.”