Chief constable ‘committed’ to improving response to SOC

The chief constable of North Wales Police said she is “committed” to addressing the concerns raised by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) after the force was rated ‘inadequate’ in its response to serious and organised crime (SOC).

Nov 10, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman

In particular, the inspectorate said the force should make sure that it has enough resources to tackle SOC effectively and that its workforce understands it is a “priority” threat.

Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman said she was “disappointed” with the grading but pleased that areas of good work had also been highlighted in the HMICFRS report published on Friday (November 10).

Ms Blakeman said: “I fully accept the findings of the report and I am committed to addressing its recommendations.

“Whilst disappointed with the grading, I am pleased to say we have already made significant changes in improving the way we tackle SOC within our communities.”

Areas identified for improvement included the need for additional resourcing of proactive teams and analysts, and to enhance the workforce’s understanding of tackling SOC.

“As a region we are outstanding, we have staff working regionally tackling our main SOC threats, our focus therefore is on our local neighbourhood response,” said Ms Blakeman.

“I am pleased that we have already been able to increase the number of officers in proactive roles and work is underway to improve our internal communication to maximise learning and development regarding SOC within our workforce.

“I was pleased to see that the report also highlighted the effective community profiles we have in place, and that our partner agencies recognised the benefit of these, along with our ‘Prevention Hub’.

“This aims to prevent people from becoming victims of crime and consists of several teams and other agencies including Community Safety and Youth Justice.

“Our work to support victims of County Lines continues and we were able to give examples of officers working with partners to protect victims of cuckooing.”

Checkpoint Cymru, a programme offering adult offenders voluntary alternatives to prosecution, was also highlighted. This involves people identified to be on the edge of criminality entering into a contract and being actively supported to prevent reoffending. At the time of inspection 147 individuals had been dealt with in this way with only three reoffending.

The Mini Police, which runs across 13 local schools, raising awareness of nine and 11-years-old about staying safe and local policing issues was also praised. It is closely linked to the16 schools officers working in secondary schools to divert young people from becoming involved in serious and organised crime.

Ms Blakeman said: “We are not complacent. We will continue our proactive operations, supported by coordinated activity with our partners, to ensure we support vulnerable people exploited because of organised criminality, and make North Wales a hostile environment for those who cause the most harm in our communities.

“We are committed to implementing an action plan to address the organisational changes required to improve the areas identified by the Inspectorate.”

The latest crime survey of England and Wales showed North Wales had an 11.3 per cent reduction in total recorded crime; this continues to be the biggest reduction in England and Wales compared with a national increase of 2.2 per cent.

“Recent public surveys also continue to show that most of our communities are satisfied with our service as we strive to make North Wales the safest place in the UK to live, work and visit,” Ms Blakeman said.

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