As society slowly returns to normal, all services must work together to support the most vulnerable
Marc Jones, Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: “As HMICFRS’ State of Policing report testifies, whilst lockdowns saw more traditional acquisitive crimes decrease last year, this did not equate to a reduction in overall demand on policing. Rather, demand shifted with more crime taking place online and with increases in more hidden harm offences taking place behind closed doors, such as domestic abuse.
“Throughout this period, PCCs worked quickly to invest additional money in vital local services to ensure victims received the support they so desperately needed, and worked closely with local partners to ensure vulnerable people were supported and kept safe. During these challenging times, police officers and staff were often required, as first responders, to fill gaps left by community-based services which had been forced to close, for instance supporting those in mental health crisis or with substance abuse problems. Sir Thomas’ report echoes research published by the APCC last week, which found police resources were often diverted from crime to mental health care responsibilities during the pandemic.
“I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all PCCs to again thank all those who work for, and with, our police forces for their exemplary efforts and devotion to public service during this exceptionally testing year. It is clear that, as society slowly returns to normal, all services must work together to support the most vulnerable, and that our valuable policing resource is able to again focus on responding to crime and protecting people from harm.
“Sir Thomas’ report quite rightly points to long court backlogs and the urgent need for action to address this. When victims have to wait for justice it undermines public confidence in the criminal justice system. And without swift and effective rehabilitation we cannot reduce the cycle of reoffending either. As Chairs of local criminal justice boards, PCCs have been working tirelessly with partners to support improvements on the ground. But we believe more needs to be done to tackle the backlog including giving PCCs, working with local partners, more powers to innovate and problem-solve at a local level so we can better support system-wide improvements.
“PCCs, including those newly-elected this year, continue to develop strong and constructive working relationships with our Chief Constables, built on a mutual understanding and respect of each other’s distinct roles. The APCC is working closely with Government and wider policing partners on a review of the Policing Protocol but our purpose is clear: To keep our communities safe and ensure that policing is resourced, supported, and held to account to deliver on behalf of the communities we serve.
“However, we do not recognise HMICFRS’ descriptions of recruitment and vetting risks. I want to the public to be assured that high standards in recruitment and vetting are being, and will be, maintained.”