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  1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/18/facebook-lapd-social-media-surveillance-fake-accounts Facebook is demanding that the Los Angeles police department cease all use of “dummy” accounts on its platforms and stop collecting data on users for surveillance. Bit ironic Facebook asking others to stop spying on users, given their history
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/nov/06/weed-out-police-misogyny-and-racism-with-phone-checks-says-uk-watchdog Random phone searches for police officers should be carried out to check for inappropriate jokes and racist, sexist and homophobic slurs, the chief inspector of constabulary has said. “It seems to me that there is no strong case for saying there should not be random checks of their social media. If they put stuff up on Facebook, a public site, it’s public. WhatsApp communications are encrypted end to end, but they are still stored on the receiving device and indeed the sending device. So they can be interrogated.” With whatsapp (and any other private messaging) there is an expectation of privacy, that only you and the other people in the chat will read those messages. He hasn't actually explained what justification there is to invade that privacy, merely stated that the technical capability to do so exists. Just because something can be done doesn't mean it should.
  3. https://metro.co.uk/2021/10/17/priti-patel-could-remove-your-right-to-anonymity-on-social-media-15435905/ "The Home Secretary says she is not ruling out ditching anonymity on social media in the wake of the murder of Sir David Amess." What do you think? Should people have to use their real name online?
  4. Would it count as directed surveillance under RIPA to look at a suspects social media account to gather intelligence on their activities? By looking at their social media I mean just looking at what they publicly posted? What if they restricted it to friends and you created an account and added them as a friend just to get access?
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/08/revealed-los-angeles-police-officers-gathering-social-media The Los Angeles police department (LAPD) has directed its officers to collect the social media information of every civilian they interview, including individuals who are not arrested or accused of a crime, according to records shared with the Guardian. Would that be allowed here, or would there be issues with GDPR or RIPA?
  6. Lincolnshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones, has said the closure of non-official police social media accounts is an "absolute error" that would undo years of public engagement. Date - 22nd June 2021 By - Chloe Livadeas The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Social Media and Digital Engagement, Surrey Chief Constable Gavin Stephens, has recommended forces streamline the number of social media accounts they have so the public can access information “in a clearer way”, meaning the closure of accounts run by individual officers. The move to a more official presence on social media is in line with growing numbers who use it to check updates from forces and expect real-time reponses, the NPCC said. But PCC Jones said he’d like to see evidence of that and made the point that most force accounts are not monitored 24/7. Today he tweeted: “At a time when public engagement by policing has never been more vital we are seeing the enforced closure of many ‘private’ or individually run SM accounts. This is an unintended consequence of wanting to provide a ‘better’ 24/7 public service. Urgent national review needed.” He told Police Oracle those social media accounts give “a true feel of the fact that policing is run by human beings and actually having that personal interaction and insight – to lose that is an absolute error and I don’t think that what’s intended. “So I think before we end up regretting the loss of a decade of engagement through twitter we really need to have another look at it.” He said the pandemic had brought the relationship between the public and the police “into focus in a way that it just hasn’t been for a very long time” and helping people to “genuinely understand the human element in policing is vital”. “Often we see in the media that they’re grouped together in a really unhelpful and homogenous way that undermines that understanding by our communities of what policing is and what people face 24 hours a day and the interaction you see across really good quality social media accounts helps break those barriers,” he said. He says that as a PCC he has engaged with officers up and down the country and internationally thanks to Twitter. “I would not be in direct contact with any number of people involved in policing – a police dog handler from Northumberland who is involved in something really interesting that leads me to ask questions locally – are we doing something similar? “The richness that it provides and the insight and the questioning it provides is vital and I think to lose that is almost unquantifiable how big a loss it would be.” He said the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and the NPCC should work together to find a solution to policing’s presence on Twitter. CC Stevens said: “Forces that have consolidated the number of accounts have seen more engagement not less, and in my own force we now have more contributors to the accounts creating a wider range of interesting content. He went on to say: “There is no requirement to adopt the model, but it has been developed by practitioners across the different disciplines and based on the experiences of forces that made the move early. Individual forces will make decisions in consultation with communities about what works for them, and the desire is that all content creators are able to use digital communications as an effective part of day to day policing.” View On Police Oracle
  7. Officers should apply the 'wince test' when sharing on social media, says Federation secretary of conduct and performance.I Treat social media with caution, Federation tells officers Date - 25th November 2020 By - Chloe Livadeas Tiffany Lynch, Federation Conduct and Performance Sub-Committee Secretary, has said officers should be mindful of their social media activity to avoid being subjected to misconduct proceedings and says forces have a responsibility to set clear boundaries. She warns officers that the “pitfalls” of social media could be “career ending”. Ms Lynch urges officers to be mindful of the risks of engaging in social media, even on a personal phone or while off-duty. “It’s sadly becoming an all too familiar headline: ‘cop sacked over offensive social media post’,” she said. “What starts out as a private joke, or was even received unsolicited, ends up costing an officer their career. “In an age where everything is recorded and shared for the goal of ‘likes’, it is easy to forget that we as cops live by a different set of rules.” “Times have changed, behaviours have changed, and standards have changed. And we're under a lot more scrutiny now than we ever have been. I'm not saying that's a bad thing," she told Police Oracle. “Additional problems can come when people post to groups that they think have a limited audience e.g. on WhatsApp. Private group chats do not necessarily remain private and once information is sent, control over that content is lost. “The joke that I might find really, really funny, that group that I'm sending it to - the wife, the husband, the brother, the daughter may look at that message, and it's no longer private.” In the past year, multiple high-profile misconduct cases have been linked to an officers’ use of the messaging service WhatsApp. In September a Kent Detective Constable received a written warning after sending a 'racist meme' in the England police national rugby team, for whom he played. A Metropolitan Police Superintendent was sacked and convicted of possessing child abuse images after her sister sent her a video on WhatsApp. Supt Robyn Williams is appealing the decision on the grounds she had not seen the video. Recently two Cambridgeshire officers who posted videos of themselves on duty and in uniform on TikTok were given a final written warning for unprofessionalism. In September ten Police Scotland officers lost a legal appeal after arguing they were entitled to privacy after their WhatsApp group containing offensive messages were used against them by the Professional Standards Department. “As police officers we have a different right to privacy - both on and off duty - as public interest has been used by the courts in order to override it,” said Ms Lynch. “So, if an officer shares any post which others could perceive as offensive on social media or WhatsApp, there’s the potential for misconduct charges to be brought against them, even if it was on a personal phone or off duty. “If an officer receives material which others could perceive as offensive, for example jokes that could be considered racist or sexist, they have a duty to challenge that material. If they don’t, again they could be up on misconduct charges,” she warns. She said the Federation aren’t saying officers shouldn’t have social media, because that is today’s form of contact, but officers should apply what she calls the ‘wince test’. “Do not press that send button if you're reading and thinking, my grandmother, or my mother, or father, or my chief constable might wince.” She said forces should do more to set the perimeters for officers, and have social media policies which are easily accessible and deliverable. “The digital era has had to change everyone's thought process. When we're bringing in more recruits that are of a younger age, we have to focus on what is the actual means of communication and the means of communication is via social media. “And what is seen as a young person coming into the force, prior to them joining as normal conversation, and normal behaviour, actually, the day they join that isn't potentially accepted as normal behaviour, or behaviour within the police service.” View On Police Oracle
  8. Met Police officers have been accused of brutality after video emerged of the arrest of a man who had parked on a single yellow line. https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/police-accused-brutality-arrest-tower-hamlets/ This video is circulating on social media with various news outlets picking up on it, why is their such an outrage, reading the statement below, the chap was asked “17 times to either produce his driving licence or move his vehicle. He does not do so” Why be so awkward? Detailed account below http://lovewapping.org/2019/07/arrest-of-a-male-in-aberfeldy-9th-july-statement-by-mps-tower-hamlets/
  9. The study analysed almost 1.5 million tweets. Corporate police twitter accounts should learn from individual officers’ use of social media, researchers say. A study of almost 1.5 million tweets from 48 corporate and 2,450 non-corporate police accounts, encouraged official social media controllers to embrace the techniques used by more personal police accounts. The Knowledge Media Institute analysis of UK Policing Engagement via Social Media, presented this week at the Evidence Based Policing conference described corporate police accounts as a “one way street.” “One of the key elements that can be observed from our manual analysis of tweets is that non-corporate accounts are more interactive than the corporate ones. “Another observation is that although non-corporate accounts may not have a large number of followers, they tend to have some key followers (e.g., local neighbours). “They know their communities better and they manage to engage their community members by participating in discussions and providing direct feedback to users. “Corporate accounts could benefit from identifying highly engaging police staff members and community leaders, and involve them more closely in their social media strategy,” the report said. The most popular tweets for both types of police accounts used sensitive and respectful humour. But researchers acknowledged the tightrope police Twitter users must walk as misjudging the tone of a comic tweet can result in irreversible reputational damage. Popular tweets were more likely to come from corporate accounts which had been established for a long time but personal account tweets were more likely to attract retweets if they followed many other accounts. This sometimes had the opposite effect for official police twitter accounts- users felt “surveyed” if they noticed a centralised police account was “following” them. For both types of accounts tweets attracting high levels of engagement were longer easy to read, avoided jargon, were highly informative and used pictures or videos. But using mentions had a negative impact on a post’s popularity, the paper said. The researchers found users were more likely to engage with tweets which talked about roads and infrastructure, events, missing people, mentioned locations or aimed to raise awareness about issues such domestic violence and modern slavery. On the other hand, tweets receiving lower engagement talked about crime updates: such as burglary, assault or driving under the influence of alcohol, following requests (#ff) and advice to stay safe. The report said previous research suggests people are more likely to retweet posts about weather conditions, missing people and road problems “since by sharing these messages users feel they are helping others.” The potential for police to engage with the public through social media is being limited as there is often no budget for staff training, the report said. “Nowadays, the public is getting used to seeing companies and organisations using social media 24/7 as communication channels, and have started to expect the same coverage and behaviour from the police. “However, social media is not the main policing communication channel, and the police social media accounts are not active 24/7. “There is therefore a mismatch between what the public expects, and what the police provides.” View on Police Oracle
  10. PoliceHopeful

    Social Media Vetting

    Hi, If you're applying for the police should you have social media accounts? I have heard its best to close them down but unsure if this is true? Thanks
  11. Scientists looked at how social media could be used as a source of information during disruptive events. Twitter could have been used to detect serious incidents such as cars being set alight and shops being looted up to an hour earlier than they were reported to police during the 2011 riots, researchers have said. Computer scientists from Cardiff University looked at how social media could be used as a source of information for police during major disruptive events, analysing data from the disturbances six years ago. They found that in all but two reported incidents, a computer system automatically scanning Twitter feeds could have alerted officers earlier. Co-author of the study Dr Pete Burnap, from Cardiff University's School of Computer Science and Informatics, said: "In this research we show that online social media are becoming the go-to place to report observations of everyday occurrences - including social disorder and terrestrial criminal activity. "We will never replace traditional policing resource on the ground but we have demonstrated that this research could augment existing intelligence-gathering and draw on new technologies to support more established policing methods." The study comes after West Midlands Chief Constable Dave Thompson claimed on Friday that police would face "real challenges" tackling a repeat of the 2011 riots following years of budget cuts. It showed that on average the computer systems could pick up on disruptive events several minutes before officials and more than an hour in some cases. The research team, which believes the work could enable police officers to better manage and prepare for both large and small-scale disruptive events, analysed 1.6 million tweets relating to the 2011 riots in England, which were sparked by the police shooting of Mark Duggan in London and started as an isolated incident in Tottenham on August 6 but quickly spread across London and other cities in England. Vandalism and looting spread to Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester over the following few days, with more than 5,000 crimes committed. A total of 16,000 officers were deployed in London on one night alone in a bid to quell the violence. The researchers used machine-learning algorithms to look at each of the tweets, taking into account a number of key features such as the time they were posted, the location where they were posted and the content of the tweet itself. The results showed the system could have alerted police to reports of disorder in Enfield, Greater London, one hour and 23 minutes earlier, they said. Dr Nasser Alsaedi, who recently completed his PhD at Cardiff under the supervision of Dr Burnap, said: "Coming from a policing background myself, I see the need for this type of cutting-edge research every day. "I wanted to develop a thesis that could have a real impact in real-world policing. I would like to see this implemented alongside the established decision-making processes." View on Police Oracle
  12. What are your thoughts on this? I tweeted the CoP from my force twitter account and they have confirmed that this review will include the Special Constabulary.
  13. It's crime fighting like you've never seen it before! PC Mark Walsh from Hampshire Constabulary is uploading brilliantly funny 7 second videos onto the social media site Vine that have a serious message about crime. Emma Vardy met PC Walsh and looks at how people use social media for BBC South Today on Tuesday 15th September 2015.
  14. There is further information regarding other areas of the country protesting, but I've kept the quote to just the Warwick University incident. Video is also available at the link. Mainly curious as to people's reactions to this after seeing it mentioned on my Facebook feed, tried to debunk their thinking, and I think I hit most of the major points. Essentially seems like a standard arrest made more challenging by a passive-aggressive crowd with a couple of less passive members, that has been blown out of proportion because it happened to be a protest >_> http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/dec/03/warwick-university-students-police-tuition-fee-protest
  15. LosingGrip

    Road safety videos

    Hi everyone, As you may know I work with a department whos aim is to reduce the number of KSI's (killed and serious injuries) on the roads in Dorset. I'm looking for any road safety videos that people may have seen that they feel are worth sharing. Doesn't have to be ones made in the UK. If anyone has any, please could you share them below. I'll be sharing them via my Police Twitter Account. Couple that I've shared so far. Thanks.
  16. PoliceDoge

    Truly Awful News

    I want to keep this brief, as everything is still quite raw at the minute, but Sophie Khan has blocked me on Twitter. It all started when she tweeted: Exclusive report @DefenceHQ police spend £360k on #Tasers - but have used one just ONCE http://t.co/oU8U51cogm via @MailOnline @danbloom1 — Sophie Khan (@khan_sophie) January 17, 2015 So, of course, I shared her concerns, tweeting back: @khan_sophie That's ridiculous! As a taxpayer I demand they Tase more people. How many people do you think they should Tase? One per day? — Jackisback (@JackisbackComps) January 17, 2015 And that was it. She blocked me. I didn't even get to suggest she volunteer as Tasee to boost the numbers.
  17. Meanwhile in Britain.... (Reuters) - Mondelez International, maker of Cadbury Creme Eggs, has tweaked the recipe of the chocolate shell of its gooey treats ahead of their main Easter selling season, sparking an angry response in Cadbury's home market of Britain. U.S. group Mondelez said on Monday the Creme Egg would now use a "standard, traditional Cadbury milk chocolate" for its shell, rather than sharing the same recipe as Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate as it has in the past. The move prompted a furious response from some shoppers in Britain, where trade unions and some politicians were critical of the sale of the near two-centuries-old Cadbury brand to Mondelez's predecessor company, Kraft, in 2010. "OUTRAGED!" said a woman with the Twitter handle @louise_gaul. "Leave our eggs alone!" The change only affects Creme Eggs in Britain, since those sold in the United States are manufactured by Hershey. Mondelez, which last year stopped selling Cadbury chocolate coins, also reduced the number of Creme Eggs sold in its multi-packs to five from six, citing "a range of economic factors". The price of cocoa based on London futures contracts rose 13.1 percent last year, while the New York price climbed 7.4 percent. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/01/12/uk-britain-cadbury-eggs-idUKKBN0KL1WE20150112?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews&WT.tsrc=Social+Media&WT.z_smid=twtr-reuters_co_uk&WT.z_smid_dest=Twitter&dlvrit=59196
  18. Police called to a disturbance in a flat in #trowbridge. Turns out occupant was shouting at TV having lost a game of Ultimate Street Fighter — Sgt Jim Suter (@SgtJimSuter) January 18, 2015
  19. I've just come across this on twitter this morning. Seems like a really good idea given the level of MH calls the police experience! Thoughts?
  20. Delays and cancellations as Channel Tunnel services resume Passengers at St Pancras have been told to expect delays on the Eurostar services to France Passengers using the Channel Tunnel are still experiencing delays with 11 Eurostar train services cancelled as the network tries to deal with the effects of Saturday's lorry fire. Eurostar said six services due to leave London have been cancelled. Some services have resumed on Sunday but passengers have reported long delays at both ends of the tunnel. At least 12,000 passengers were affected when the tunnel was closed for most of Saturday. Eurostar confirmed trains started moving through the tunnel again about 11:30 GMT, but at a reduced speed and only one of the two tunnels is open. The services cancelled from London are the 14.04, 15.31, 17.04 18.04 18.31 and the 20.04 (all times GMT). The train operator is also cancelling the 16:43 and 18:43 from Paris, and from Brussels the 15.56, 17.56 and 18.56 services have also been cancelled. Passengers should expect delays of up to two hours from when they board a running service, Eurostar said. Meanwhile, Eurotunnel, which operates car and lorry services, said there was a four-hour wait to board shuttles in France, and the tunnel affected by the fire would remain closed throughout Sunday. Passenger Johnny Chatterton: "We were excited that we were finally going to make it, but now, who knows?" 'So agitated' Kim Notman, who is at the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais , told the BBC: "I was loaded on to the train at 09:30 GMT with my car and have now been stuck on the train for the last three hours. "The doors to the train have now been opened because people were getting so agitated." Similarly Eurostar passenger Professor Urfan Khaliq, who is on a train travelling from Paris to London, also faced delays upon entering the tunnel. He told the BBC: "We've been here around, I guess, nearly three hours now. They've offered free cashew nuts and water to anyone who wants it. People are just sitting here really rather stoically and trying to get on. I do feel for the families who've got very young children." No arrivals at London's St Pancras from Paris or Brussels are expected until after 13:00 GMT, Eurostar said. Eurostar had advised passengers to check in as normal if they were already booked to travel on Sunday, and those who had been unable to travel on Saturday should not arrive at stations unless they had re-booked. The Eurostar website is showing seats are still available for travel this weekend. The departure boards at St Pancras, London, warned passengers to expect delays BBC News correspondent Andy Moore said an extra Eurostar train from London to Paris was being laid on, with 800 seats available, in an attempt to ease the queues. Despite the company organising re-bookings, accommodation and refunds, it could be Monday before the backlog is cleared, he added. Eurostar - which operates passenger services between Paris, London and Brussels - said 26 of its trains were cancelled on Saturday afternoon, affecting at least 12,000 passengers. Eurotunnel's services started running again during the night after "residue smoke" was cleared from one of the tunnels. The company added that it expected to operate a reduced Le Shuttle timetable, with two departures every two hours from both the UK and France. Its customers have been advised to check in as normal. The fire broke out near the French side of the Channel Tunnel Eurostar passengers tried to rebook or get refunds on their tickets The alarm was raised when two CO2 detectors were triggered at 11:25 GMT on Saturday at the French end of the north tunnel. Eurotunnel said a load on a lorry on board one of its trains, en route from the UK to France, had been "smouldering". John Keefe, Eurotunnel's public affairs director, said: "We are in the process of moving the train from the incident site. That will enable us to get our technicians in to clean up and conduct any repairs that'll be necessary." Eurotunnel said passengers were safely evacuated from trains in the tunnel, and the fire "was quickly brought under control" by French emergency services. Firefighters examined the site and a Eurotunnel spokesman said it did not look like there was any significant damage. During the day, at St Pancras station and in Paris, there were long queues of passengers after services were cancelled. At Folkestone, lines of lorries built up near the Eurotunnel entrance. Eurotunnel had anticipated resuming services on Saturday night through its south tunnel, which was unaffected by the fire. But in a tweet the company said it was "taking slightly longer than anticipated to recommence services, we need to be sure any residue smoke cleared completely before we do so". Empty trains were sent through the tunnel to ensure it was clear and customers were offered transfers to ferries until the service recommenced, Eurotunnel said. Eurostar's customer care number is 03432 186 186, or +44 1777 777 878 for people outside the UK. Eurotunnel's information line is +44 8444 63 00 00.
  21. Increased terror threat 16 January 2015 In response to recent attacks in Paris and Belgium, national counter-terrorism lead AC Mark Rowley has announced an increase in the threat level to ‘severe’ for police officers and Jewish communities. Steve White, Chair, Police Federation of England and Wales said: “Any increase in threat for any section of the community to ‘severe’ is of grave concern. However as a service we remain resolute and committed to keeping the public safe. “The level of extreme terrorism that we are facing on an international scale cannot be underestimated and the police service and its security partners are doing all they can. “Police officers face life-threatening risks on a daily basis and are prepared to do so fully aware of the risks involved. As a service we are regularly assessing what we do in order to adapt to the changing and challenging issues we face. “We continue to urge police officers and staff to follow existing policies and good practice to counter terrorism and ensure their own safety. “It has always been good practice, regardless of threat level, to avoid wearing uniform and take sensible precautions when travelling to and from work. “We re-emphasise and fully support the guidance issued by Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley in his capacity as national policing lead on counter-terrorism.” Source: Police Federation
  22. Birmingham is a “totally Muslim” place where “non-Muslims just simply don’t go”, a self-proclaimed terrorism expert told the US Fox News channel, sparking a tidal wave of mockery. Steve Emerson’s comments saw the Twitter hashtag foxnewsfacts trend worldwide on Twitter as people made things up about Birmingham, Fox News or pretty much anything. Mr Emerson was taking part in a television discussion about supposed Muslim-controlled areas in Europe. “In Britain, it's not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don't go in,” he said. “Parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn't dress according to Muslim, religious Muslim attire.” He said there were sharia courts in Birmingham “where Muslim density is very intense, where the police don't go in, and where it's basically a separate country almost, a country within a country”, adding that the UK government did not “exercise any sovereignty” there. Jeanine Pirro, the host of the Judge Pirro show, replied: “You know what it sounds like to me, Steve? It sounds like a caliphate within a particular country.” Their laughable remarks saw British politicians, leading journalists, novelists and others take part in the general derision of the news channel on Twitter. Labour MP Tom Watson retweeted a message which said: “Birmingham is home of Black Sabbath and other terrifying Muslim musicians. #FoxNewsFacts.” Author Mirza Waheed tweeted: “Wali Sheikh Peer was a Muslim dramatist from Englistaan.” Fellow writer Irvine Welsh said: “I warn you, @FoxNews, I have an Ocean Colour Scene download and I'm not afraid to use it! (Well, maybe a wee bit...).” Broadcaster Robin Lustig came up with: “Jihadi extremists have forced the city of Oxford to rename the Thames the River Isis. #foxnewsfacts” And even ITN newsreader Alastair Stewart, joined in “If you do not clean your finger-nails regularly, potatoes will grow in your stomach, crush your lungs & suffocate you. #FoxNewsFacts,” he wrote. He added: “There will be senior managers in Fox News who don't get what all the fuss is about, nor understand the humour.” Sean Kelly, who describes himself as a “regular bald guy”, tweeted: “Extremist rock group Showaddywaddy have reformed and changed their name to Jihaddywaddy #foxnewsfacts.” Mr Emerson later apologised but did not provide a full explanation of how he came to make the remarks. He told ITV News: “I have clearly made a terrible error for which I am deeply sorry. My comments about Birmingham were totally in error. And I am issuing an apology and correction on my website immediately for having made this comment about the beautiful city of Birmingham. “I do not intend to justify or mitigate my mistake by stating that I had relied on other sources because I should have been much more careful. There was no excuse for making this mistake and I owe an apology to every resident of Birmingham. “I am not going to make any excuses. I made an inexcusable error. And I am obligated to openly acknowledge that mistake.” He added that he planned to make a donation to “a Birmingham charity called the Birmingham Children’s Hospital”. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/fox-news-mocked-after-expert-says-birmingham-is-totally-muslim-9971378.html
  23. For Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner Adam Simmonds, improving the way his force tackles domestic abuse isn’t just a professional campaign - it’s also personal. Simmonds says he has people “close to me who have for years suffered from domestic abuse”. While he prefers not to identify them, it has added a personal element to his determination that victims of domestic abuse in the county can see that “ultimately there is a PCC who is championing them”. Facebook Twitter Pinterest expand Northamptonshire’s police and crime commissioner, Adam Simmonds. Photograph: PR There is much to do before victims will feel reassured: in its 2014 report on domestic violence, which found “alarming and unacceptable” weaknesses in police response to domestic violence, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary noted that Northamptonshire had the lowest domestic abuse arrest rate of the 43 forces in England and Wales. For every 100 domestic violence crimes recorded, there were only 43 arrests, compared to a force average of between 45 and 90. Only 12% of the county’s 3,685 domestic abuse-related crimes for the year to August 2013 resulted in a charge. The inspectorate found that domestic abuse “too often remains a poor relation to acquisitive crime and serious organised crime”. Its report came in the wake of such appalling cases as that of Maria Stubbings and Christine Chambers. In both cases, Essex police were found to have failed in the events that led up to the two women’s brutal murders, and that of Chambers’s two-year-old daughter, by the women’s ex-partners. Related: Vera Baird: domestic abuse is not just an issue for the police In Northamptonshire, Simmonds made a controversial start as PCC, coming under fire for employing friends, but has pledged to cut violent crime by 40% and has now advised chief constable Adrian Lee on measures to tackle domestic violence, including increasing that low arrest rate. Simmonds, now 37, who was the youngest PCC in the country when he was elected in 2012, says he is well-placed to bring together the various bodies involved in tackling domestic violence. “I felt, getting into this job, that the system is broken, and agencies siloed,” he says. “I wanted to be the person who brought the system together and patched it up. I’m in a position where I can do something about the system”. His background will help with this. Before being elected to his present role, Simmonds held a number of senior roles at Northamptonshire county council and he is a big fan of the idea that PCCs should have more responsibility in local government more widely, not just in policing. Related: How councils can help domestic violence victims Simmonds is working closely with the council on a scheme to remove abuse partners from tenancies in private rented or council accommodation. It’s a voluntary scheme, still in the planning stage, but Simmonds says he wants to talk to housing providers, including mortgage lenders and housing associations, about putting rules in place that would ensure offenders have to leave the home, rather than victims and their families. “The reality at the moment is completely perverse,” he says. “It’s the victim and sometimes children removed from the home and put into a hostel.” Simmonds is also a big advocate of body-worn cameras. in 2007, Northants was one of the first forces in England and Wales to introduce body cameras and 350 cameras are now used on the frontline. Officers switch them on at domestic abuse incidents, filming both victim and perpetrator, and the footage is admissible in court. This is particularly important in domestic abuse cases where police want to prosecute, but the victim has withdrawn support from fear. Footage not used in a court case is discarded. Filming is not just about gathering evidence: cameras can pick up on injuries, and the tone and fear in interactions - and not just between those involved in the incident. It also monitors “how police behave and how they treat people,” says Simmonds. Related: Should victims of domestic violence be offered witness protection services? Another important initiative in Northants is the county’s new victim and witness service, Voice, which was launched in October 2014. The service was set up after a large-scale consultation in 2013 across the county on support services for those affected by crime. The subsequent report, written by police and crime commission researchers, documents victims’ stories and experience of the police, included harrowing tales of domestic abuse, and was overseen by Linda Lee, a past president of the Law Society, who is now chairing the new Voice service. From October 2014, Northants took over commissioning of victim services from Victim Support as part of a nationwide transition from Victim Support to PCCs. The PCC now commissions Victim Support to run the service. Simmonds says his office is working through the 79 recommendations made in the Victims’ Voice report. Voice is not part of the police service and is funded mainly through the Ministry of Justice. Its board comprises representatives from the Office of the PCC, Voice, Victim Support, the police force, the Crown Prosecution Service, providers of support services and service users, but the PCC’s office says that Voice will provide an independent, specialist service for victims and witnesses. It will also provide specialist services for children, particularly around sexual exploitation and domestic violence, following a poor report from Ofsted and HMIC on safeguarding children in Northamptonshire. Simmonds says there has been a 12-month programme to train staff. Current consultations, such as outreach research with 10,000 children about cybercrime will feed into this approach of prioritising the victim’s voice, says Simmonds. “We want victims to be at the centre of the system and not just an add-on,” he says. Sign up for your free weekly Guardian Public Leaders newsletter with news and analysis sent direct to you every Thursday. Follow us on Twitter [email protected] View the full article
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