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police car and fire engine

POLICE and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis today launched an eight-week public consultation on the future of how fire and police are governed in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

The public, staff of both organisations and local authorities will all have a chance to give their views on possible plans for the two emergency services both to be governed by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in the future.

Police are already governed by the PCC, but this move would mean the fire and rescue services would come under the office too.

An independent report suggests it would improve the way the two services work together, speed up delivery of new ideas, be better value for money and provide the room for investment in the two services.

Mr Ellis said:

‘This consultation is all about how police and the fire and rescue services are governed in future, so that we can build on their good work and make sure both services are financially sound with extra investment available to keep us all safe and secure.

‘It is important our police can adapt to changing crime in an ever more complex world and that our fire and rescue service expands the expertise and specialisms they have developed around the prevention of harm in addition to their core responsibilities.

‘From a practical point of view, I want more of the overall budget both services have to go towards frontline operations in local areas across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

‘Part of achieving that would be to bring the support and administration functions that each service currently has into a combined function both would use. It would free up at least £3 million every year to support frontline services and provide helpful consistency in order to work better together.’

At present 21 councillors from Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire carry out the governance of the fire service, on a part-time basis, through what is called the Fire and Rescue Authority.

Local police services used to be governed in a similar way until 2013, when locally elected Police and Crime Commissioners took over responsibility. It has been evidenced widely that this has been effective and so Government has now asked each Commissioner to consider bringing the governance of their area’s fire and rescue service alongside that of policing.

The independent report concludes that bringing the governance of the fire and rescue service alongside policing is sensible and pragmatic. It would also save £2 million on the current costs of fire governance over the ten years the business case sets out.

Mr Ellis added:

‘I broadly agree with the independent report’s findings and also think aligning governance will bring certainty and stability for the longer term for both services.

‘I would encourage everyone to have a read and give their thoughts through this surveywww.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/have-your-say.’

The consultation will run until September 4.

THE Police and Crime Commissioner’s office has won a bid for vital funding to tackle the heinous crime of female genital mutilation in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

The Home Office pledged £15 million across England and Wales over the next three years to tackle violence against women and girls and organisations were invited to bid for specific projects.

The Police and Crime Commissioner’s office (PCC) led a bid on behalf of partners, including the police, county and city councils, health and key voluntary women’s groups, to secure funding to tackle FGM.

This was not because of the high prevalence currently of the issue across the county and city, but a desire to prevent it from escalating.

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold, who led an awareness campaign on behalf of PCC Matthew Ellis, welcomed news of the successful bid.

Speech Bubble, Tamworth Informed‘This is a great result for the county and in particular the women and girls of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

‘Female genital mutilation is a hideous practice and it’s a crime. It invariably goes unreported and results in tremendous psychological, as well as physical, pain and suffering, which can and does traumatise girls for life.

‘This isn’t just a problem for women in affected communities – it’s an issue which we all need to face and it’s why I’m delighted the PCC’s office has been successful in securing this important funding, which could really change young girls’ lives for the better.’

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold

Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold

FGM, sometimes called female circumcision, involves the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It usually happens between the ages of four and ten and can have serious consequences for a woman’s health and in some instances lead to death.

It is practised in 28 African countries and some in the Middle East and Asia and affects migrant communities in the UK.

The OPCC-led project hopes to work closely with the National FGM Centre model and learn from the good practice and evidence base they have produced.  It will involve project officers, who will support and work closely with social workers. Working with parents to prevent FGM will be a key aspect of this role.

The funding will also help create ‘community champions’, who will forge trusting relationships and foster changes in attitudes and practices within the community. There will also be training to improve knowledge, skills, referral practices and give confidence to those who do and may come face to face with individuals they suspect have undergone or are at risk of FGM.

Specialist services will take a victim centred approach and will support, through counselling and other therapeutic interventions, potential victims and/or actual victims of FGM. There will also be campaigns produced in collaboration with survivors and professionals.

Staffordshire OPCC

 

STAFFORDSHIRE’S Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Ellis, has today asked the Government to consider removing or raising the cap on the level of council tax determined by PCCs in order to bolster policing at the most local level.

‘I’ve not called on Government for any more funding for policing since being elected in November 2012. I’ve coped with budget reductions and taken the view that what was already there could be spent better. My office has worked closely with Staffordshire Police to achieve better use of the money which is why here, neighbourhood policing numbers were 434 in 2013 and are 440 now with no change to response officers,’ he said.

‘However, the world we are now living in, especially post the Manchester and London terrorist attacks, means it is not credible that current budgets can maintain the increased levels of police resources required for what is likely to be a long period in Staffordshire, and I’m sure elsewhere.

Mr Ellis has frozen the council tax people pay locally towards policing in Staffordshire for 4 years out of his 5 years in office, but believes removing the cap now could help immensely in the current debate around boosting police resourcing at the most local level.

He wants to see the current cap of 2 per cent on the policing part of the council tax scrapped or at least increased because of the current environment and threats.

‘Government I’m sure will review the wider counter terrorism resources on a national basis, however, locally elected PCCs are accountable to their electorate meaning we are best placed to know the needs of our specific areas and be directly accountable for the funding decisions we make. That was the whole principle around PCCs, said Mr Ellis.

‘I froze the amount people paid in council tax towards policing every year in Staffordshire until this year, when the need to ensure new threats were met head on, meant I made a decision to increase.

‘I have written to the Home Secretary today to suggest she considers this proposal around local funding for policing. It is for local Chief Constables to determine what resources are needed and I’m sure most Commissioners will have no issue with being accountable for the budget decisions they make.’

Mr Ellis also emphasised this would also bring local accountability for the level of reserves held which varies across the country.

‘Where Police and Crime Commissioners still hold large reserves, these could be utilised ahead of making extra increase to council tax and that can be done in a more transparent way.’

‘This is an option still open to many PCCs now, as there can be little doubt we’ve reached that rainy day. But we also need that added flexibility to increase the precept.’

Staffordshire OPCC

STAFFORDSHIRE’S Police and Crime Commissioner has called together leaders from Tamworth to discuss the preparedness of local public agencies to respond to any eventuality in the light of recent terrorist attacks.

Senior managers and leaders from across all relevant public agencies will meet on Wednesday (June 21) when the Commissioner will chair the meeting. It will also include an operational update from the police’s perspective by Assistant Chief Constable Nick Adderley.

In the light of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire last week, Mr Ellis also wants to broaden the discussion and sharing of knowledge to include civil contingency planning.

Mr Ellis said:

‘Tragic events of late have once again highlighted the need to make sure the work of the police and other agencies to keep us all safe across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is effective.

‘The meeting I’ve called will provide a security update by the police, but will also be a chance to understand in detail all agencies’ preparedness to work together in the most difficult circumstances.

‘After the recent horrific fire at the Grenfell House tower block in London I also intend to use the meeting to seek assurance that the wider civil contingencies plans responding to the most serious incidents are adequate.’

police cell

AN independent group established by Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, Matthew Ellis, has examined the care of detainees in custody.

The Ethics, Transparency and Audit Panel (ETAP) were asked to review the processes and procedures in place for the care of detainees in custody following historic deaths in custody, one in 2011 and the other in 2014.

This comes at a time when Mr Ellis says he is determined to eradicate the use of police cells as a place of safety for people with mental health issues. He is going a step further and his policy goes beyond the law changes, to stop use completely.

As part of their latest report ETAP looked at the detention process and the way detainees are booked into custody. They also observed the risk assessments that are completed in order to ascertain the level of observation required and whether a detainee is in need of any medical or mental health assessments.

ETAP looked at the healthcare provision within the custody facilities and observed the arrangements for people with mental ill health. They looked at the Mental Health Act (1983) and the procedures followed by Custody Detention Officers if someone requires a mental health assessment while in custody. The panel observed that due to availability of nurses or doctors to carry out assessments, this process has been known to take up to nine hours, well outside the agreed time allowance.

Mr Ellis said: ‘ETAP’s report is timely given that I am highlighting the new legal restriction of 24 hours maximum in custody for a person with mental ill health. This is welcome but in my view doesn’t go far enough. The new law places a complete ban on using cells as a place of safety for under 18s, which is right, but that should be the same for everyone in those circumstances, no matter what age.

‘This report highlights the need for this law, with the process for a mental health assessment having taken up to nine hours in some cases. People suffering mental ill health need to be in a place of care, not in custody.

‘I am pleased that ETAP’s findings show people being held in custody in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are being well looked after by Police Officers, Custody Sergeants and Custody Detention Officers.

‘Their scrutiny backs up the vital work of our Independent Custody Visitors who do a fantastic job of checking on the welfare of detainees and the conditions of police cells and custody suites. They make a difference, not just to people in custody, but in promoting public confidence in the system which is essential to making Staffordshire safer.’

ETAP was launched under the ‘New Dawn of Transparency’ agenda by Mr Ellis and aims for policing in Staffordshire to be the most open and transparent in the country. Seven members of the public sit on ETAP and meet regularly to monitor the work of police including how crime is recorded, how complaints from the public are dealt with and the use of Taser and ‘stop and search’ powers.

Police cell block

POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire (PCC), Matthew Ellis, is calling for volunteers who live or work in the Tamworth area to carry out checks on the standards in which people are held in police custody.

Volunteers from all walks of life and a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds are sought, along with young people over 18 years of age.

Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) are appointed by the Police and Crime Commissioner and make unannounced visits to custody suites in Staffordshire to check the conditions of police cells and the welfare of people being held in custody by Staffordshire Police.

Visitors work in pairs and can check police cells – where they are granted access to detainees – at any time day or night to make sure that custody rules are being observed. They follow a code of conduct and are fully trained before they start.

Mr Ellis said: ‘The role of Independent Custody Visitors is crucial – not just to the people in custody, but also in promoting public confidence in the system which is essential to making Staffordshire safer.

‘They provide a vital link between communities and police and help maintain public confidence in the custody system and I would love to see more people get involved in this crucial work.’

Volunteers, who receive training and travel expenses, are expected to make a minimum of twelve visits a year and attend 4 panel meetings which take place each year.

Anyone interested in joining, or finding out more, should email Jane Milgate on Jane.Milgate@staffordshire.pcc.pnn.gov.uk or visit the PCC website at www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/independent-custody-visitors

ethics, transparency and audit panel

POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, Matthew Ellis, is urging people from Tamworth to join an independent panel to strengthen public scrutiny of policing in the county.

The Ethics Transparency and Audit Panel (ETAP) is looking for people who have an interest in public service and community safety and have the ability to robustly challenge and scrutinise Staffordshire Police.

ETAP requires more members of the public to join the panel to examine all aspects of policing in Staffordshire including helping to review financial accounts and audit reports. The rigour and scrutiny brought by ETAP has received national recognition.

The deadline to apply to join ETAP is midday on Wednesday 31st May and application forms are available at www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/eta. Interviews for successful candidates are expected to take place on 22 and 23 June.

ETAP was launched under the “New Dawn of Transparency” agenda by Mr Ellis, and aims for policing in Staffordshire to be the most open and transparent in the country.

Members of ETAP receive training and regularly meet to scrutinise and challenge the work of Staffordshire Police. They produce detailed reports on their findings to support the PCC in his oversight of policing

Recent reviews by ETAP, available on the PCC’s website, include a review of low level crime satisfaction levels, an audit of senior officer expenses, how officers deal with mental health incidents, body worn video use and Taser use.

Mr Ellis said: ‘Honest and independent scrutiny by the public is crucial as we strive to set the bar higher and create a new dawn of transparency in policing.

‘This is about being open and transparent so that public confidence across policing and criminal justice is improved.

‘We’re looking for more members of the public to step forward and get involved in this vital work to help scrutinise the police.’

Staffordshire ETAP

PEOPLE from Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are being given the chance to join an independent panel to strengthen public scrutiny of policing in the county.

The Ethics Transparency and Audit Panel (ETAP) is looking for people who have an interest in public service and community safety and have the ability to robustly challenge and scrutinise Staffordshire Police.

ETAP requires more members of the public to join the panel to examine all aspects of policing in Staffordshire including helping to review financial accounts and audit reports. The rigour and scrutiny brought by ETAP has received national recognition.

ETAP was launched under the “New Dawn of Transparency” agenda by Matthew Ellis, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Staffordshire, and aims for policing in Staffordshire to be the most open and transparent in the country.

Members of ETAP receive training and regularly meet to scrutinise and challenge the work of Staffordshire Police. They produce detailed reports on their findings to support the PCC in his oversight of policing

Recent reviews by ETAP, available on the PCC’s website, include a review of low level crime satisfaction levels, an audit of senior officer expenses, how officers deal with mental health incidents, body worn video use and Taser use.

Application forms are available at www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/eta with a closing date of midday on Wednesday 31 May. Interviews for successful candidates are expected to take place on 22 and 23 June.

Mr Ellis said: ‘Honest and independent scrutiny by the public is crucial as we strive to set the bar higher and create a new dawn of transparency in policing.

‘This is about being open and transparent so that public confidence across policing and criminal justice is improved. We’re looking for more members of the public to step forward and get involved in this vital work.’

creative choices

AN organisation in Tamworth is providing services for people with learning disabilities thanks to a grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s People Power Fund.

Creative Choices CIC is providing a drop in service for people with learning disabilities where they are able to meet new people, learn new skills and take part in activities.

The drop in centre is aiming to prevent people being targeted or becoming a victim of crime because of their vulnerabilities. They are also aiming to combat the isolation that can sometimes be experienced by people with learning disabilities.

Staff and volunteers at the centre provide a lifeline to people with learning disabilities by providing a safe, non-judgmental environment for them to socialise with other people.

Creative Choices CIC were awarded £2,600 to hold the drop in sessions

Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, Matthew Ellis, said:

‘Creative Choices are doing a brilliant job of supporting individuals with learning disabilities in Tamworth. They provide an environment where they can build their confidence; learn about their safety and develop new skills. I was extremely impressed with the group I met and I am pleased to support them with funding.

‘The best ideas to reduce crime, social harm and anti-social behaviour often come from communities affected by those issues. That’s why, since 2013 I’ve increased the funding provided for simple things that make local areas safer and better to live in.

‘At the heart of developing the Commissioner’s People Power Fund and Proceeds of Crime Fund was listening to those who are closest to the problem and supporting their ideas with funding to try and fix things. I’m continuing this because the principle has been so successful over the last few years.

‘Tackling the issues, building community spirit and often reducing repeat demand on policing means providing that financial help at the most local level is really cost effective.’

Sally Shorrock, from Creative Choices CIC, added:

‘Without the funding we received we couldn’t have set this up. We started in January and before this there wasn’t a drop in service in Tamworth specific for adults with learning disabilities.

‘There’s a social element to the centre with people making new friends. We also have people who attend who can feel isolated, or just want some help with things like letters or phoning people. It has been really good and really positive so far.

‘We’ve used it as a platform for information sharing and educating people on their health, wellbeing and safety and we are working with organisations such as the police, health and fire services to deliver workshops and information.

Staffordshire’s High Sheriff visits police custody with Volunteers

DEPUTY Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold was delighted to welcome the new High Sheriff of Staffordshire, Humphrey Scott-Moncrieff, to the Northern Area Custody Facility where she accompanied him on a visit with Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs).

During his year in office the High Sheriff has a focus on raising awareness of the work undertaken by volunteers across the whole of Staffordshire, a passion that is shared by Mrs Arnold, whose portfolio of work includes volunteers who help scrutinise the work of Staffordshire Police.

Mrs Arnold and the High Sheriff were shown around the custody facility with ICVs Stan Harrison and Elizabeth Shenton, and were able to observe how they conduct their visits and check the welfare of people detained in custody.

Mrs Arnold said: ‘ICVs play a vital role in inspections of police custody sites and the people detained in them. They make a difference, not just to people in custody, but in promoting public confidence in the system which is essential to making Staffordshire safer.

‘I was delighted to invite the High Sheriff to take part in an ICV visit and showcase the work that our wonderful volunteers do here in Staffordshire.’

Humphry Scott Moncrieff, High Sheriff of Staffordshire, added: ‘It was great to visit the custody centre in Stoke on Trent. Thank you to Sue Arnold the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for arranging this visit.

‘I was shown around this excellent facility by Inspector Jason Allport and the Independent Custody Visitors. It was a very informative afternoon learning about the work of the ICVs and observing them carrying out their visits.’

Voluntary ICVs are appointed by the Police and Crime Commissioner to check on the wellbeing of people held in custody by Staffordshire Police. The Staffordshire volunteers make regular, unannounced visits to custody sites throughout the year.

Visitors work in pairs and can check police cells – where they are granted access to detainees – at any time day or night to make sure custody rules are being observed. They follow a code of conduct and are fully trained before they start.

The role is vital to ensure public confidence in Staffordshire Police treating the public with dignity and respect if they happen to end up in custody.

Anyone interested in joining, or finding out more, should email Jane Milgate on Jane.Milgate@staffordshire.pcc.pnn.gov.uk or visit the PCC website at www.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/independent-custody-visitors

 

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