Notting Hill Carnival: Police officers ordered not to dance with revellers

Police officers on duty at the Notting Hill Carnival have reportedly been ordered not to dance with revellers.

Recent years have seen officers dancing joyously with members of the public as part of the iconic west London festival.

But the Metropolitan Police has vowed to take a different approach this year as they are also dealing with a knife crime epidemic.

Superintendent Elisabeth Chapple, Met Police spokesperson for the event, told the Telegraph that officers “probably won’t be dancing”.

‘Hard not to dance sometimes’

“There are always going to be different views on dancing and with the music being so fantastic, it’s so hard not to dance sometimes,” she said.

“But we have asked officers to remember what they are there for – to keep carnival-goers safe and be vigilant. That probably means they won’t be dancing.”

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Focussing on crime at Notting Hill Carnival misses the point

More than 12,000 police officers will be on the streets for Notting Hill Carnival this year, and there will be “significantly more” knife arches in place at the popular event.

Around one million people are expected to attend the annual two-day celebration over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Scotland Yard, which has been working with carnival organisers to ensure a “safe and spectacular” festival, has boosted the number of screening arches placed at various points around the area.

Superintendent Chapple did not say how many arches there will be, or where, but confirmed the number would be “significantly more” than last year.

An officer dancing at the 2016 edition of the event as the parade passes down a street. (Photo: Getty)
An officer dancing at the 2016 edition of the event as the parade passes down a street. (Photo: Getty)

Over 12,000 officers on duty

“We have a comprehensive policing operation for this year’s carnival,” Supt Chapple added, “It’s going to be a fantastic event. We want to make sure that it’s safe and spectacular so we’re using a range of tactics including screening arches, using dogs, firearm teams and others.

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Notting Hill Carnival 2019: Route map, road closures, parade start-time, and full lineup

“We found last year that the use of screening arches, alongside other tactics, that were used were really, really effective and so the number of arches has been increased this year.”

Last year there were two non life-threatening stabbings over the carnival weekend, police said.

The number of officers at this year’s carnival – 12,427, reflecting the number of shifts worked over the course of the weekend – is slightly down on last year.

Officers will be supported by around 900 event stewards on Sunday and approximately 1,100 on the typically busier Monday.

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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Lucas Dobson: Body found in search for missing 6-year-old boy who fell into River Stour

Emergency services have found a body in the search for missing six year-old schoolboy Lucas Dobson.

Lucas went missing on Saturday afternoon when he slipped into the River Stour in Sandwich, Kent, while on a fishing trip with his family.

Kent police have not yet formally identified the body but his family have been informed of the find.

His father and two other adults jumped into the water in an attempt to rescue Lucas but he was swept away by a strong current.

Emergency services

More than 200 volunteers helped in the hunt for the schoolboy (Photo: PA Wire)

Rescue workers used specialist equipment to try to find Lucas – including sonar detectors, underwater cameras, divers, dogs and drones.

More than 200 volunteers, including some coming from outside the county, helped in the rescue effort. But they were later urged by police to “stay away” when the river became the “sole focus” of the hunt for the boy.

Vigils were held in towns across the south east of England for the missing schoolboy on Monday, while Twitter users shared images of lit candles under the hashtag #LightUpTheCoastForLucas in solidarity with his family.

Not suspicious

Specialists with sonar equipment search the River Stour for six-year-old Lucas Dobson (Photo: PA Wire)

Inquiries are continuing but the death is not being treated as suspicious, a force spokesman said.

Chief Inspector Mark Weller said: “This is a deeply tragic and upsetting incident for all concerned, and Lucas‘ family are understandably devastated.

“We were inundated with offers of assistance from members of the public, who turned out in large numbers to help search for Lucas.

“I know his family are very grateful and touched by the support provided, and I too would like to offer my own personal thanks.”

He also thanked emergency services for their efforts.

The fall

The effort to find Lucas Dobson has used underwater cameras, divers, dogs and drones (Photo: PA Wire)

Lucas’s aunt Maciee Stanford, 18, said the boy’s father jumped into the water after he fell between a jetty and a boat, but “the current was too strong – he had already gone”.

She told the MirrorOnline: “He was with his dad and his dad’s friends along with other children.

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The 14-year-old boy who vanished without a trace

“The incident happened because our Lucas was on the jetty and tried to step from there on to the boat, but he fell in between the jetty and the boat.

“As soon as he fell the three adults jumped in after [him] but the current was too strong. He had already gone in the short amount of time, he could not be found.

“They fish and do this regularly as it is behind one of the men’s houses, all the children play together here.”

Additional reporting from Press Association.

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Senior police chief urges public to ‘lend a hand’ instead of filming them if they see officers being assaulted

A senior police chief has appealed for members of the public to “lend a hand” rather than videoing officers when they see them in confrontational situations.

Shaun Sawyer, Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, said witnesses should consider using their phone to make a call rather than filming if they seen an officer “getting a kicking”.

The police chief was speaking ahead of the start of a new Channel 4 series on policing in the region called Call the Cops, which began last night.

Lend a hand

In a BBC Radio Devon interview, Chief Constable Sawyer said the series would show viewers the “extremes” faced by his force’s officers.

“There are some light-hearted moments as you would expect with a force such as ours,” he said.

“I’m always of the view that if you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have joined policing.

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Call the Cops: what life is really like as a 999 dispatcher

“But there is also a very severe side to policing in the 21st century and it portrays those two extremes very effectively and the pressures that the public face, particularly in some of our urban areas and night-time economy.”

Chief Constable Sawyer said that while his officers were under pressure, the series showed that the public were “mostly” still on the officers’ side.

But he added: “If there was one plea I’d say, ‘Can you stop videoing police officers in confrontational situations where they are getting a kicking, in an old-fashioned term, and perhaps lend a hand?’

‘You might consider calling someone’

“I know in the past police officers have let themselves down, I’m not saying they never will again.

“But if you’re videoing an officer who’s on their own being assaulted you might actually consider using that phone to call someone.”

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Assistant Chief Constable Jim Colwell later clarified the force did not condone members of the public “putting themselves in harm’s way”.

“It’s more about how the public can play an active and meaningful role in keeping our communities safe,” he told the BBC.

The series’ first episode covers the Easter bank holiday weekend.

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‘There just aren’t enough police officers to cope – it’s soul-destroying’: a 999 dispatcher on life at the frontline

When a member of the public calls 999 in an emergency, we’re led to believe that the police will arrive in minutes. But a new Channel 4 documentary series, Call The Cops, shows how vastly understaffed the police force is, to the point where dispatchers from the control room often have to tell victims there are no officers available to attend to them.

Devon and Cornwall’s police force covers the largest geographical policing area in England, but it’s also one of the most stretched in the country. Reported crime in the area has risen by 30 per cent in two years, and its resources have been cut by 15 per cent. In this jurisdiction, there is just one response officer on shift for 13,000 people. 

As the blunt documentary shows, while resources have been cut, the need for emergency services is on the rise. Among the call-outs on the show is the case of a machete-wielding man, reports of brutal assaults, and of anti-social behaviour. Rather than the crimes, however, the show focuses on police communications, the control centre, and the people who work at the heart of the non-stop operation as they try to assign officers to the many crises that are phoned in.

Sarah is one of the dispatchers who appears on the series. Here, she tells i what life is like on the frontline of the emergency services:

‘There just aren’t enough police officers out there’

“I’m a resource deployment officer within the Exeter control room, which means I take the overflow of 999 calls and dispatch officers to the incidents. I manage the resources on the ground and in addition to that I deal with missing person reports.

“I’ve been doing this job for about 19 years. Growing up, I used to love watching The Bill or any programme about the police. I initially wanted to be a police officer, so I went into the police cadets aged 18, but when I saw the control room I was instantly really interested in it. When I moved down to Devon, that’s where I started working.

PC Ollie Abercrombie and PC Joey Fawke, response officers
PC Ollie Abercrombie and PC Joey Fawke, response officers featured in ‘Call the Cops’ (Photo: Channel 4)

“We normally work nine hour shifts – we meet up at the start of the shift in the briefing room and we get handovers from the staff finishing their day – or night – at work. We find out if there are any situations that are ongoing and work through what job needs prioritising. Then we need to work out who we need to call back and apologise for our lack of attendance, as our resources are really limited at the moment. There just aren’t enough police officers out there, it’s a big issue. 

“I manage the jobs that are coming in and have to prioritise which ones are immediate or ‘prompt’ (which one can we dispatch someone to right away) and which ones we need to call back to find out further details about.

“If I’m honest, most shifts are about a 10 out of 10 in terms of stress levels – it can be a very demanding. It takes a certain type of person to do my job. You need to be able to gather information quickly and relay this information to police officers on the ground, you have to know where police officers are at all times.

‘Last weekend we took 800 emergency calls in one shift’

“Last weekend we took 800 emergency 999 calls in one shift. There’s a higher demand in the summer, but we get no additional resources to manage that. It peaks in about July, but it’s pretty much constant throughout the year. Christmas is another period of high demand for officers – it’s obviously a time when all the family is together, which can lead to domestics. I can’t recall a time where a member of staff has any down time during a shift.

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More than £70,000 in donations flood in to support family of killed Pc Andrew Harper

“The worst call I ever took was from a mother who had found her child had died by suicide. That one really stayed with me. You do get upset, and you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t, there have been times when myself or my colleagues have taken a call then have had to go out of the room and take a bit of time to gather our thought process with what we’ve just dealt with. 

“The other calls that stick with me are ones I’ve done as a crisis communicator, where I’ve been speaking to people who are in a crisis or suicidal, and I will try and find their location so police officers can reach them and give them the help they need. Obviously those kind of calls I remember the most, as they start off that they don’t want to talk to you, and you have to gain a rapport with them and build their trust at a time when you also need to get information from them. Initially, they might not want to be found. The job that I do builds their trust, so we are able to find them and help them.

‘I’ve been called all the names under the sun’

“You get shouted at a lot and I’ve been called all the names under the sun. It’s frustrating for them as well, so I understand where they’re coming from. If you call the police, you want them there straight away, but there’s also times when there’s totally unnecessary calls. On Christmas Day I took a call about someone burning their turkey.

“We don’t find out what happens to people after they’ve called us. It’s very rare we get an update, I personally would like to know more, if something has touched me, then it would be nice to get an outcome, just a bit of feedback really, to know if I’ve done a good job and helped them. When we hand over at the end of shift, the incident might still be on going so you go home and you think: “I wonder if they found such and such. I wonder if they’re safe…” Or if it’s a child who’s called up and reported his parents arguing, I will wonder if he’s safe.  

Sandra, another dispatcher on the documentary
Sandra, another dispatcher in the documentary (Photo: Channel 4)

“At the time when you’re dealing with it, you just tend to keep it in and you go into professional mode. You’re there to support the person in crisis, something that only tends to hit you when you put the phone down. You go out, you have a little cry and then you’re back into the job. But Devon police really look after us. There’s peer support, then there are Trim (Trauma Risk Management) support teams. Trim get called in by management 72 hours after an incident to check on the welfare of the staff who are dealing with incidents. So, for example, if officers have been to a fatal road traffic accident, they will make sure we’re processing it safely and not taking too much stress on board. 

‘It does affect you’

“To relax, I like swimming and cycling and I’ve just recently taken up surfing – ironic really, as I’m petrified of the sea. But the force looked into helping staff with stress and they found that one of the best ways of dealing with this is exposing them to the ocean, so we’re starting off this new programme where we go out and learn to surf with trained surfers, which reduces stress. It’s actually worked wonders for me, I’ve got a new love of the ocean – you can’t get me out of it now.

“Ideally we need more police officers, then we can serve the communities how we want to serve them. It is horrible when you have to ring up a member of the public and say, ‘I’m really sorry, I don’t have a police officer I can send you at the moment.’ It happens often, and it’s really soul-destroying. I personally probably make more than 20 calls a shift apologising. It does affect you, as I always put myself in the position of if that was my family member, I’d want the police to come out and help them.

“I might not know the person at the end of the phone at the time, but their crisis is really important to them, so it’s important to me and I want to get help to them.”

Call The Cops starts on Channel 4 on Monday 19 August at 9pm.

Samaritans are available day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them free on 116 123 or email them at jo@samaritans.org.

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More than £70,000 in donations flood in to support family of killed Pc Andrew Harper

More than £70,000 has been donated to the family of police officer Andrew Harper, who died after being struck and dragged by a vehicle, while on duty.

The 28-year-old, who had got married several weeks before and was due to go on his honeymoon, was killed while investigating a burglary in Bradfield Southend in Berkshire, late on Thursday.

Donations have come flooding in to a Just Giving page set up by the Thames Valley Police Federation, with a goal of raising £100,000 for the family of the officer from the Roads Policing Proactive Unit in Abingdon, who “tragically gave his life while on duty protecting the public”.

The page said police across the country “confront danger on a daily basis” as they go to work.

‘Heroism’

“We know there is a risk when we put on the uniform but we do so as we are proud to protect the public,” a statement on the donation page said.

“Sadly, on very rare and horrendous occasions, a colleague makes the ultimate sacrifice. We will ensure that heroism is never forgotten,” it added.

“All our thoughts remain with Andrew’s wife, family, friends and close colleagues.”

A police officer lays a floral tribute at the scene Pc Harper, 28, died. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)
A police officer lays a floral tribute at the scene Pc Harper, 28, died (Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

Further donations have streamed into a separate fundraising page set up by PC Harper himself before he died, for the charity Children With Cancer UK.

The officer had planned to take part in the 20 Mile 200 Obstacle Dirty Weekend race and had set a fundraising target of £500.

Donations on the page have now surpassed £17,170 for the charity.

He wrote on the appeal: “Please support me in this goal and help us fight for those who can’t fight for themselves”.

Investigations continue 

As well-wishers continue to donate and send messages of support to the victim’s family, murder police are continuing to investigate his death and how the events of the night unfolded.

They are still questioning 10 suspects, including a 13-year-old boy, who were arrested at a caravan park near the scene by Thames Valley Police.

They were given additional time to quiz the suspects, Detective Superintendent Ailsa Kent told reporters on Saturday.

Police we investigating the site around country roads near the Four Houses Corner caravan park on Sunday.

On Saturday, forensic officers gathered around what appeared to be a black hatchback car inside the park.

Tributes

Tributes have flooded in for the fallen police officer, on the donation pages and at the scene of his death.

One message from a well-wisher on the Just Giving page said: “A young man who was decent, caring and made it his job to look after us and keep us safe.”

Several expressed their condolences to his widow Lissie, who had married Pc Harper  four weeks ago.

Thames Valley Chief Constable John Campbell said on Friday, PC Harper was a “highly regarded, popular member of the team”.

Police search the scene in Berkshire (Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Pc Harper’s father, Philip, said the family have been “absolutely devastated” by the death, telling Sky News: “We’re in a bad place.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked and appalled” by the “mindless and brutal” attack, while Home Secretary Priti Patel “instructed the Home Office to urgently explore what we can do to better support the families of our brave police officers who are seriously injured or worse by cowardly criminals”.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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Security tightens around English Premier League players as dangerous gangs target superstars

When Arsenal’s Sead Kolašinac – known to Gooners as “The Tank” – faced down knife-wielding thugs on a north London street last month he was hailed for his bravery after CCTV footage of the botched drive-by heist went viral. Mesut Özil darted for cover in a nearby restaurant while the 26-year-old left back Kolašinac took on the assailants with bare hands.

Both players are expected to return to Premier League action this weekend – but their show of defiance was probably the last thing the club and police wanted to happen.

Security expert Alex Bomberg said Özil and Kolašinac should have been briefed on the correct procedure during such an attack – and that means flight rather than fight.

“Not putting themselves at risk and driving to the nearest police station is exactly what they should have been doing,” said Mr Bomberg, chief executive of Intelligent Protection International Ltd, a close-protection and security firm operating in Britain and France.  When you’re travelling in a vehicle, the only real time when you’re at risk is when it goes static. If [they] had a close-protection officer with [them], they would know where the nearest police stations and hospitals are. It’s their job to know those things,” he told i.

Arsenal’s Sead Kolašinac (left) and Mesut Özil were attacked by a knife-wielding masked gang in north London on  25 July (Photo: BBC)

Responsibility

Mr Bomberg said clubs should take more responsibility as crimes against high-profile players and their families become more common. He adds: “I think there’ll be a bit of expenditure by a couple of clubs and then nothing will happen. A player getting injured will not change football clubs taking more responsibility. However, I think it will take a player’s family being seriously injured for here to be a change.”

Detectives fear the incident may have triggered a violent turf war between rival Eastern European gangs operating in the UK. Figures suggest citizens from at least 134 different countries are involved in organised crime.

Now, fresh concerns among wealthy players and rich homeowners in some of the UK’s most exclusive postcodes has seen them step up their security detail to ward off targeted attacks.

Özil, 30, was spotted leaving his home in Hampstead, north London, with a minder in tow on Wednesday – days after two men were arrested following a reported altercation with security staff outside the £9m property. The Metropolitan Police said two men aged 27 have been charged with harassment offences and will appear in court on 6 September.

‘Audit’

Many security companies are equipped to deal with “special risks” – characterised as kidnapping, product tampering and blackmail. When protection firms are hired, staff will typically carry out a security audit.

“We’d look at the alarm system, how it’s monitored and would put a police response on it,” Mr Bomberg said.

“For at-risk individuals we would put a panic button on the alarm system and one in their bedroom. Dogs are good and if you’ve got big grounds they’re great because they will pick up on scents. But you’ve got to be very careful because they’re like humans; you’ve got to rest them – you can’t overwork them.”

Risk assessments would be carried out if the individual planned to attend a public event – and security would be beefed up if he or she was accompanied by a partner or family.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery said the wellbeing of Özil and Kolašinac is his prime concern. (Photo: John Walton/PA Wire)

Scenarios

Separate security-trained drivers and bodyguards would be deployed and at least one bodyguard would shadow the VIP’s wife.

“It can be difficult [advising] a mother of young kids – they’re busy looking after their family, travelling from A to B and have other things going on,” Mr Bomberg said.

“But we would talk through to them exactly what to do and [what] scenarios are really good. For example: ‘What would you do if you’re parking the car at Waitrose and suddenly someone recognises you and starts screaming at you through your car window?’

“A lot of people would wind down the window [but] we suggest staying put, beeping the horn and drawing attention to yourself. A lot of people don’t think about self-help but if you have a couple of young kids with you then that raises the dynamic.”

It’s understood that many Premier League clubs have contracted security and close protection is available to players. But a source with knowledge of security for high-net-worth individuals noted a reluctance to hire above adequate security detail. For top-flight footballers earning up to £300,000 a week, the annual cost of appropriate protection is equivalent to 10 days’ wages.

‘Feud’

The attack on the Arsenal players has pushed Britain’s murky underworld into the spotlight. It’s believed that the footballers became unwittingly tangled in a vicious gangland feud between two rival Eastern European gangs – which blew up after the attempted carjacking last month. One mob threatened the Premier League stars, saying they would take “everything they have” after another clan warned that the players were “off limits”, according to a report in The Sun. Since then, both men have significantly increased their security detail but Kolašinac’s wife, Bella, has reportedly returned to Germany.

Serious and organised crime costs the UK economy £37bn a year, according to a 2019 National Crime Agency (NCA) report. An estimated 4,629 crime groups, made up of 34,000 members are thought to be operating in the country – and many offences are believed to go unreported. While British citizens make up the bulk of these networks, Pakistani, Polish, Romanian and Albanian criminals are among the several hundred members of the illicit rackets. It was revealed this week that 876 Albanians are imprisoned in the UK – putting them at the top of the list of jailed foreigners.

According to Anna Sergi, a criminologist, the capital has become a “playground for smash-and-grab robbers, petty thieves and gangsters seeking to expand their territory“.

Lynne Owens, director general of the NCA, said the scale of organised crime is “staggering” and called for a £2.7bn investment to fight it over the next three years. She said: “Failing to invest will result in the gradual erosion of our capabilities and our ability to protect the public.”

Lynne Owens, director general of the National Crime Agency (NCA) has called for a £2.7bn investment to fight organised crime over the next three years (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Social media spying

Researchers have explored how crime networks are exploiting social media platforms to gain insight into the “identification of allies and victims, to the execution of operational capacities”, reported a 2015 study in the Journal of Complex Operations.

But Dr Paul Gill, a senior lecturer at the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science at University College London (UCL), told i that using open-source intelligence to develop plans is “nothing new”.

“In the early 1970s, a Provisional IRA leader remarked that 85 per cent of the intelligence they collected came from media and open sources,” he said.

“Often celebrities and members of the public alike unwittingly provide crucial information online that they would never think about saying one-to-one with a stranger. It should not come as a surprise that criminals will make use of these opportunities. As technology changes, new forms of crime will emerge. Policy-makers, police and intelligence will need to pre-empt and mitigate these emerging threats before it is too late.”

‘Vital policing’

An NCA spokesperson told i: “The threat from serious and organised crime is chronic and corrosive, evolving as it adapts to our changing society.

“These groups are preying on the most vulnerable in society and we know criminal networks are becoming more extensive and sophisticated and in many cases, are prepared to use greater levels of violence.

“Visible, front-line policing is vital to public safety, but the reality is that we will not defeat serious and organised crime with beat officers alone.

“Some of the capabilities we need are most effectively and efficiently delivered at the local or regional level. Others, however, the NCA must deliver on a national basis, providing the right agencies with the right capabilities at the right time to deliver maximum impact.”

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Ten arrested in hunt to find killer who ‘dragged’ police officer to his death

A newlywed police officer was killed when he was “dragged along by a vehicle” after attending to a reported burglary in Berkshire.

PC Andrew Harper and a crew mate, of the Abingdon-based roads policing unit, were called to an incident near the village of Sulhamstead, between Reading and Newbury, at 11.30pm on Thursday. The 28-year-old, who got married just four weeks ago, died at the scene.

Thames Valley Police said 10 males aged between 13 and 30 were arrested on suspicion of murder and remain in custody.

PC Harper joined the force in 2010 as a special constable and became a police officer in 2011.

‘We are all shocked’

Flowers for the fallen officer (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Flowers for the fallen officer (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

He is the first officer to be killed on duty since March 2017, when unarmed PC Keith Palmer was stabbed by Khalid Masood during the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack.

John Campbell, the force’s Chief Constable, paid tribute to his “highly regarded and popular” colleague and revealed some details about PC Harper’s final moments.

He told a press conference: “We are all shocked by the death of our colleague, PC Andrew Harper.

“Our thoughts are with Andrew’s friends and family, who are being supported by specially trained family liaison officers.

“We know that at some point, Andrew has been dragged along by a vehicle but establishing a cause of death is something that will take place over the next few hours and days.”

PC Harper’s death highlights the increasing number of attacks on front-line officers. Figures show that police officers were victims of 10,399 alleged assaults that caused injuries last year – up 32 per cent from 7,903 recorded in 2015-16, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Growing violence

Chief Con John Campbell: 'I think there’s a challenge for society in terms of the easy recourse to violence but... we know there are certain associated risks' (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Chief Con John Campbell: ‘I think there’s a challenge for society in terms of the easy recourse to violence but… we know there are certain associated risks’ (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Chief Constable Campbell reflected on the rising tide of violence in Britain and acknowledged society’s challenge regarding the “easy recourse to violence”.

He said: “Policing has always been dangerous. For all of us who have been in the police for some time we’re regularly seeing an increase in violence presented to police officers.

“In these extreme circumstances it’s resulted in the loss of Andrew’s life so from that point of view, is policing getting more violent?

“I think there’s a challenge for society in terms of the easy recourse to violence but… we know there are certain associated risks.”

PC Harper’s death prompted a wave of tributes from police chiefs and politicians yesterday. Boris Johnson led them, saying he was “deeply shocked and appalled” by PC Harper’s death.

“It is the most powerful reminder that police officers up and down the country put themselves at risk every single day to keep us safe,” he said. “They have my absolute support.”

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Matthew Barber: The police need proper powers to deal with illegal encampments

Matthew Barber is the Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley. He is currently the Deputy PCC for that area.

Dealing with illegal (or unauthorised) encampments is not about stigmatising a nomadic way of life or criminalising a section of the population. It is about dealing with a serious problem of anti-social behaviour and criminality that in some quarters is overlooked or downplayed for fear of being accused of discrimination.

Nevertheless, if you are a teacher organising a sports day on the school field, or the volunteer helping with the village fete, the arrival (illegally) of several vehicles in the area allocated for the coconut shy is a real problem that people expect the police to deal with.

The law, as it stands, is not on the side of the police in meeting the public’s expectations. The powers that police officers have to move unauthorised encampments are limited and responsibility often falls to the landowner. If that is the local authority, they may have the resources to deal with the problem, but often it is a private landowner who cannot afford or is intimidated to go to court. It’s perfectly likely that criminal damage may have occurred, perhaps cutting a lock to enter the site, but there is often no evidence about which individual is responsible to justify an arrest. There may be numerous other reports of crimes or anti-social behaviour in the area. Undoubtedly some will be exaggerated or repeated rumour, but genuine victims will also be scared to give evidence to the police to progress action. After a few days of apparent inactivity by the authorities, the current residents of the village green will move on, leaving behind a costly clean up and a bitter memory within the settled community.

All of this may sound like a reiteration of the excuses used time and again, but it is really the diagnosis of the problem for which we must find a solution.

Like our new Prime Minister, I am an optimist, and once the more immediate challenges facing the Government are dealt with, I hope that he will enthusiastically throw his full and energetic weight behind changes to the law in this area. Following a consultation the Government had earlier this year, they promised to amend the legislation relating to illegal encampments. This is a real opportunity to get the balance right and to deliver the powers that are needed. I have been talking to local authorities across the country who have been taking different approaches to the problem. I have also been in contact with the Garda in the Republic of Ireland who work under a very different legal framework to see what lessons can be learned.

Some of the changes outlined by the Government should be welcomed, but I believe the changes can go further. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to tackle an issue which is a persistent complaint from residents across the Thames Valley and I am sure across the country. Currently, the police have to rely on loosely framed powers (Sections 61 and 62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) or hope that there are other criminal offences that can be used. This is inadequate – and stronger powers are needed both for land-owners and the police. I have no desire to prevent people from having a perfectly legal nomadic lifestyle, but the law must apply to all, equally and fairly.

As with all sections of the community, there are criminal elements within groups of travellers but the police cannot and should not tar everyone with the same brush. In the same way that if there is some criminal damage in my road, I would not expect a whole family to be arrested if one member of that family is suspected, the travelling community should expect fair and equal treatment.

Until the law is changed the police will continue to fail in meeting the public’s expectations, not through lack of endeavour but through inadequate powers. The solution isn’t limited to the criminal law; housing authorities have a role to play as well, as is apparent in Ireland.

I am a pragmatist, rather than an ideological politician, but if the Conservative Party believes in anything it should be private property and the liberty of the individual. It is perfectly possible to frame the law so that it respects the freedom of individuals to move around the country freely, whilst respecting the rights of landowners. The right to roam is not the right to occupy any piece of land you choose.

This is a problem for police forces up and down the country and Police and Crime Commissioners will be at the forefront of ensuring the law is changed where needed. There is a solution to balance the needs of all communities and it is a solution that a Conservative Government can deliver.

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Tim Passmore: Joint working is the way to fight crime in Suffolk

Tim Passmore is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk.

This November I will have had the privilege of being Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for seven years. As you probably know, this important public service role replaced the former Police Authority, with a single person democratically elected to act in the public interest, and to try and ensure the delivery of an effective and efficient police force in their area. The Chief Constable has operational independence, whilst at the same time the PCC sets and agrees the budget. With that comes the responsibility of setting the level of Council Tax in the force area.

Personally, I find one of the biggest challenges in this role is drawing the line between operational independence and upholding the public interest and accountability, bearing in mind the PCC is overall responsible for the budget– I’m still trying to optimise the balance but I am getting there…

The 43 PCCs in England and Wales are also responsible for commissioning victim services, which is largely funded with a grant direct from the Ministry of Justice. This is a credit to the coalition government who recognised the need to place the victims of crime at the focal point of the whole criminal justice system. An excellent start has been made, but there is still some way to go.

To make your tenure a success, it is crucial to have meaningful and regular engagement with the public and with all sectors of the economy. In Suffolk I am particularly fortunate to have an excellent team that works with me (as opposed to for me) including our head of public affairs and engagement. Her commitment to the role has made an enormous contribution to raising the profile of what policing and victims work we undertake and its relevance to the local taxpayer. The cornerstone of this success is a detailed series of public engagement events and discussions blended with a mix of media columns and interviews, websites, social media, and online surveys. The essential nature of sound internal communication programmes must not be overlooked either.

In my view, any aspiring PCC must have the best public engagement colleague possible and one you can trust completely and rely on for their advice – even if it seems at times to be difficult to accept.

Amongst other notable achievements I was particularly proud to veto a proposal to close our control room and hive the service off to Norfolk. I could not see how this would have improved policing in Suffolk and there was little evidence to support this proposition. That said, you can sometimes be placed in an uncomfortable position when you are in a minority of one.

By supporting the collaborative moves with policing colleagues in Norfolk the two forces have yielded annual savings on a recurring basis of over £37 million, sufficient to employ around 750 police officers. This has enabled us to meet the huge reductions in funding from the Home Office with some confidence and has enabled further investment in better response: a state of the art cyber-crime unit and increased capacity in crucial areas such as roads policing and detective work.

Significant improvements has been made to help victims of domestic abuse (mostly women), sexual abuse (predominantly children), and coercive control. In Suffolk, there is now a properly funded IDVA service (Independent Domestic Violence Adviser) which did not exist when I was first elected. Our commissioning work with crime disorder reduction grants has assisted many disadvantaged people in the county – this included a large fund (£100k) to support the voluntary sector in keeping young children safe online. Over 10,000 school children benefited from this work. I was delighted to announce that a £50,000 fund of public money I had made available to help young people specifically has been very generously matched with a further one hundred thousand pounds from philanthropic donations.

For the future, there is still a great deal to achieve. We must continue to develop the Suffolk “One Public Sector Estate” programme as this provides far better value for money for the taxpayer. In many cases the co-location of the workforce has significant operational benefits for all organisations. This includes local government, fire and rescue, local authorities, and the health sectors – what I have termed a “Suffolk plc” process.

The upholding of the law and support for good policing should be in our Conservative DNA and there have been times when this has been questionable during the last few years. I do not agree with ring-fencing foreign aid when policing has been under enormous pressure due to increased demand and a rapidly changing pattern of crime. Who would have thought that slavery still exists and the appalling rise in violence, much of which is driven by the gang culture and drugs would now be of concern to us all?

We need to remind the government that policing is an important indirect economic driver since there is a very clear link between low levels of inward investment and poor economic growth with high levels of crime, anti-social behaviour, and corruption. Therefore policing must be properly resourced and managed – and this includes having the political will to reform the current police funding formula, which discriminates against the largely rural areas in favour of the urban forces.

More work is urgently required to reduce re-offending rates. This is not about adopting some wet liberal set of proposals but making sure there is a sensible approach to prison reform to provide homes and employment coupled with proper training before prisoners are released back into civilian life. I visited the military correction centre in Colchester last year and was particularly impressed with their successful reform for individuals. We need more of this ‘Carrot and Stick’ approach – Churchill once famously stated there is a jewel in the heart of every man if only you can find it. That’s what the criminal justice system must focus on.

Public sector procurement should do a great deal more to support local business by assessing more clearly the social and economic impact of what is purchased with taxpayers’ money. I for one will be delighted when the EU shackles on procurement are completely ditched – in Suffolk we spend £1.8 billion of yours and my money on goods and services across the public sector and barely 50 per cent is spent with local businesses. An eleven per cent increase could boost the local economy by 200 million – so let us get on with it.

Overall, after a troubled gestation period, PCCs are making a positive contribution to society but there is some way to go. I hope I will be fortunate enough to be re-elected next May to help carry our Conservative values forward.

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So we’ve had NHS, policing and immigration plans from Johnson. Stand ready for a schools spending pledge.

So Boris Johnson has pledged 10,000 new police officers, as well as a raft of tougher-sounding anti-crime policies, an Australian-style points-based immigration system (not to mention the relaxion of migration rules for scientists), and £1.8 billion for the NHS.  It isn’t hard to see where he will go next, and soon.

The remaining element of Dominic Cummings’s favourite set of policies – tax cuts for lower-paid workers – may have to wait for a publicity push, because these would need legislation, and the Government has no working majority.  Though the Prime Minister could try them on the Commons anyway, daring Labour to vote them down, as part of an Emergency Budget in October (if there is one).

What is likely to come sooner is a Government commitment to spend at least £5,000 on every secondary school pupil.  ConservativeHome understands that this announcement is written into this summer’s campaigning grid.  But we need no special briefing to work this out for ourselves in any event – and nor does anyone else.  For why peer into the crystal of Downing Street announcements when one can read the book: i.e: Johnson’s Daily Telegraph columns?

For it was in one of these, back during the Conservative leadership election, that he pledged “significantly to improve the level of per pupil funding so that thousands of schools get much more per pupil – and to protect that funding in real terms”.  The £5000 figure was briefed out separarely.  This promise was one of the two main big ticket spending items of his campaign, the other being that undertaking to raise police spending.

“It is simply not sustainable that funding per pupil should be £6800 in parts of London and £4200 in some other parts of the country,” the former Mayor of the capital wrote.  Just as the NHS spending announcement was framed by a visit to hospitals in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, expect any school spending news to be projected by a trip to schools in Leave-voting provincial England: all part of the push to squeeze the Brexit Party.

If that column is any guide, don’t be surprised to see a maths, science and IT element too – which would also be very Cummings – as well as a stress on “giving real parity of esteem to vocational training and apprenticeships”.  There is evidence that these are popular all-round, but especially among older voters.  Gavin Williamson is bound to have a supporting role, just as Priti Patel has had with the weekend’s law and order initiatives, but Johnson will lead.

Like his other spending promises, Johnson’s school pledge may not be deliverable in the event of a No Deal Brexit, and there are inevitably questions anyway about timescale anyway.  But if you want to know what more will be in his campaigning package, look no further.

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“To literally feel terror”

Boris Johnson wants, specifically, to frighten Labour off a no confidence vote and, more broadly, to intimidate the anti-No Deal Brexit Commons coalition MPs return in September.  That means demonstrating that voters are backing him.  That requires improving opinion poll ratings.  And that, in turn, means an August blizzard – yes, such a thing is possible – of policy announcements to prove that his new government “is on your side”.

So to Dominic Cummings’s trinity of an Australian-style points-based immigration system, more NHS spending and tax cuts for lower paid workers we must now add action on law and order.  The new Prime Minister promised 20,000 more police during his Conservative leadership election campaign.  To that we must now add 10,000 new prison places and greater use of stop and search powers, both of which are announced today.

Or rather we would do, if Johnson had a durable majority, and were the future more clear.  The money to fund those new prison places may not be available in the event of No Deal: it could be needed for other measures.  And sweeping changes to sentencing would require legislation, which the Government is in no position to present to Parliament.

None the less, the Downing Street bully pulpit has its uses, and if the Prime Minister wants wider stop and search powers to be available, he is in a position to get his way – for as long as he’s in place, anyway.  Today’s push should help.  As Matt Singh writes, there has already been “a substantial Boris bounce”.  It has largely come off the back of Brexit Party supporters, and this latest initiative is aimed at them (as well as Labour working class voters).

So too was the appointment of Priti Patel as Home Secretary.  ConservativeHome is told that there was a collective intake of breath in Downing Street when she said recently that she wants criminals “to literally feel terror”.  Number Ten need not have worried about how that view would go down.  There is “overwhelming support” for it among the public, according to YouGov.

If Johnson somehow survives the autumn without a general election, or wins one with a majority, a further question will arises about all these spending plans – namely, whether or not they’re consistent with the traditional centre-right commitment to fiscal stability.  The Prime Minister could be forgiven for thinking, given the probability of an autumn poll and the uncertainty of any result, that this would be a nice problem to have.

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David Sidwick: The facts show you are safer with a Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner

David Sidwick is the Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset.

I am honoured to be the Conservative PCC candidate to represent the people of Dorset – both the Country and the Coast. When you start on this road you realise something quite alarming right from the start: there is no training course to equip you for the role and you need to acquire knowledge on the hoof. So, after 18 months of research and “seeing practice” with other PCCs, it is clear that knowledge and visibility will be key to getting this done.

There are three questions the electorate wants answers to:

  1. Why have a PCC?
  2. Why a Conservative PCC?
  3. Why David Sidwick?

This first question feeds into voter turnout where the PCC role is poorly misunderstood and its value misrepresented. The PCC in ITV’s Wild Bill is not representative of the Lincolnshire PCC nor is the shady individual in Line of Duty. The answer is to keep repeating what the PCC can do to underpin law and order. The two recent Conservative Home articles by Katy Bourne and Matthew Barber show the value of PCCs as agents of change, as well as their contribution to community representation and accountability.

The third question is for me to address locally in Dorset where the incumbent is an independent.

So I’m going to focus here on the second question. Why have a Conservative PCC? This is the most important question to answer and is particularly relevant in today’s political climate where traditional party loyalties are in a state of some flux. There are four reasons why a Conservative PCC makes sense and we need to keep repeating why these matter:

Conservative Values. The key to a PCC being Conservative lies in our long-term commitment to law and order. We understand how crime impacts people from low level “nuisance” to the more serious offences. We have always stood for aspiration and meritocracy, with individuals having the freedom to live their lives within the law so long as they do not infringe the freedoms of others. This means we Conservative PCCs and candidates take a robust approach – understanding explanations and vulnerability, yet ensuring that these are not excuses and the law is upheld. You may be vulnerable and had a tough upbringing, but that does not give you the right to terrorise your community.

Peelian Principles. It is too often forgotten that the Conservative Party in Sir Robert Peel invented the police force and initiated the nine Peelian Principles. As a Conservative, it’s in our nature to hold these sacrosanct. These have been uniquely constant in defining what a Police Force should do – and inspirational in ensuring success. Bill Bratton – the Commissioner of Police in New York carried them in his pocketbook whilst the NYPD went about fighting crime so successfully. They are all important – but two, I believe, are critical to a modern Conservative view.

Firstly, to reduce Crime and Disorder. This is self-evidently the first clear priority. Secondly, police seek and preserve public approval not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law. Having instigated the principles, the Conservative Party holds them most dear and is most likely to ensure complete independence for the Police from individuals, companies, political parties, and critically, the government.

The Alternatives. Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour believe in removing local need and accountability from the police equation. They prefer moving towards a National Force designed to act on national policing issues directed from the centre. A vote for either means a PCC actively working to make themselves redundant. Whilst there may be a case for reform in some areas to increase efficiency – the removal of a democratic mandate from people is a high price to pay.

Certainly, Labour has a much more insidious agenda – The Shadow Home Secretary is quoted in 2005 as saying: “We are not interested in reforming … the police, armed services, judiciary and monarchy. We are about dismantling them and replacing them with our own machinery of class rule.” This outlook is scary in the extreme. But equally concerning are the libertarian views of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats on drugs policy and the balance between the needs of the victim and community versus those of the perpetrator.

Finally, what of an “independent” – this may be the worst option as they have not faced a rigorous selection process relying instead on a misleading apolitical stance. This means they could display an all things to all men approach whilst following their own or others’ significant agendas. This is not transparent and means they are like a packet of Revels – you think you are getting the yummy orange one but instead you may get the wrinkled raisin at the bottom.

Conservative PCCs – More Effective.

Real data shows that Conservative PCCs are more effective than their counterparts. Having reviewed all 43 forces with both HMICFRS data and Home Office statistics we find the following:

  • Of the 10 best performing forces – nine have a Conservative PCC
  • Of the 10 worst performing forces – only four have a Conservative PCC
  • For total crime rate – seven of the lowest ten are Conservative
  • For Violence Against a Person Rate – seven of the lowest ten are Conservative
  • For Anti-Social Behaviour – six out of the lowest 10 are Conservative
  • In nine out of 11 similar parameters, Conservative PCCs are equal to or better than the opposition.

A Conservative PCC makes sense both philosophically and empirically.

Of course, there are many challenges for all PCC candidates going forward, but we now have a strong case for Conservatism which is far more persuasive than when PCCs first took up office. We need to make the case for why Conservatism should remain at the heart of policing via the PCCs.

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Alison Hernandez: Joint working is strengthening neighbourhood policing in Devon and Cornwall

Alison Hernandez is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall

Our journey to increase visibility and reassurance in our communities at a time of austerity has led us to be more innovative. We think in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we’ve invented a new style of neighbourhood policing, this originated in this force when decades ago police chief here invested in neighbourhood teams while elsewhere they were putting money into responsive policing.

Even that has been eroded through the creation of so many specialist teams like armed response and those set up to tackle crimes of terrorism, serious violence, child sexual exploitation and abuse, regional organised crime, I could go on. It’s time we put neighbourhood policing back on the map. Prevention is always better than cure.

So we’ve had to invent new ways to deliver what our communities want and expect.

In Cornwall, we have piloted successfully the Tri-Service Safety Officer role. It’s the embodiment of the blue light services in one role, combining the skills of a trained firefighter, a co-responder paramedic for the ambulance service and having community safety accreditation from the police.

The individuals (and we have ten now) are highly skilled, highly trained, highly professional individuals there to respond to community need and based in our more rural and remote areas where we could never afford a full-time resource from any of the emergency services – even in the good times.

In Devon, we are trialling this year Community Responders. These are trained firefighters who work 21 hours a week for the fire service but will be a Police Special Constable and wear a police uniform, carrying out community policing and fire tasks while awaiting a fire shout. Again, they are being deployed to some of our most rural or coastal communities. This is an example of an exemplary employer-supported volunteering initiative. All we pay for this is a mere £6,000 per officer to support training and equipment while the fire service pays for them to be at its disposal in an emergency.

Many Police and Crime Commissioners backed Boris Johnson tobe our new Leader and Prime Minister. That’s because he’s got a track record of cutting crime and making law and order a priority. He’s the first MP to fully understand the value of Conservative PCCs alongside Kit Malthouse MP, who carried out the policing oversight for Johnson  when Mayor of London.

We would like a strong team in government working with us at a local level to continue this innovation and to show why Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners are our only hope of making our communities safer and offering value for every pound of our hard-working taxpayers’ money.

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