Wiltshire PCC praises ‘robust, strategic leadership’ of chief constable a year on from her appointment

Wiltshire’s police and crime commissioner has praised the “improvements across all areas” of policing that have been driven forward in the past 12 months as Wiltshire Police’s chief constable marks one year since taking the helm.

Feb 27, 2024
By Paul Jacques
PCC Philip Wilkinson and Chief Constable Catherine Roper

Philip Wilkinson said the introduction of “robust, strategic leadership” from Chief Constable Catherine Roper is paying dividends, but says they are both aware there is not a ‘quick fix’ to implementing or sustaining performance improvements.

Mr Wilkinson added more time – and attention on driving up standards around quality of investigations and sustaining the victim focus – was needed but that it was important to note the right steps are being taken in order the for the force to truly say it is delivering ‘the best service’ it can.

Ms Roper joined Wiltshire Police seven months after it had been placed into the Engage process in July 2022, when His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services deemed that “urgent improvements” were required to the service our communities were receiving.

He said Wiltshire Police had seen improvements across all areas as a result of Ms Roper’s appointment – including a clear strategic direction, new policies and systems to measure demand and monitor force performance alongside a clear focus on standards and an emphasis on service delivery.

And added he was confident the chief constable’s plans will continue to deliver for communities, including greater visibility, and proactive engagement, from officers in communities, increased positive criminal justice outcomes, a refocus to concentrate on those crimes that matter and an improved trust and confidence picture.

Mr Wilkinson said: “Recruiting an experienced chief officer, from outside Wiltshire, was a conscious decision to drive the improvements Wiltshire Police needed, at a crucial point, so it could deliver the police service residents want – and deserve.

“One of the main positives from Chief Roper’s leadership is her ability to listen to her officers and staff, really hear what they are saying and implement change – quickly – to enable them to deliver a quality, frontline, policing service for their communities.

“In the last year, there has been a noticeable change in the core policing service offer to our communities and a collective focus – from senior leaders to those in our neighbourhoods – to really engage with communities, tackle those crimes which matter most and to deliver the priorities within my police and crime plan.

“Wiltshire Police has many dedicated and hardworking officers, staff and volunteers and they are now being enabled and supported, from the top down, to focus on what they want to do – delivering a quality, frontline policing service which delivers for its communities and to be the best they can be.”

Ms Roper said Wiltshire Police “looks and feels very different now from the force I joined one year ago”.

While she concedes that, one year on, the force is still on a significant improvement journey, she believes that the organisation is performing more effectively than the one she joined in February 2023.

She said: “Taking on this role has been the privilege of a lifetime for me and I genuinely believe we have made strides towards transforming the service the public receive from us.

“When I took up office, I said that, within a year, the organisation would look and feel very differently from February 2023 and it does.

“The programme of changes we’ve made are to ensure that victims of crime, and all our communities and partners, receive the very best service from us. For me, this is not simply about improving enough to get out of the Engage process. We must create meaningful and sustainable change to benefit the people of Wiltshire for years to come.”

Soon after arriving in post, Ms Roper set three operational priorities to frame the improvements required in support of delivering ‘Making Wiltshire Safer: Police and Crime Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan 2022 – 2025: Safer Public Spaces, Violence and Burglary’.

These included ‘safer public spaces’ with the launch of a Neighbourhood Harm Reduction Unit; tackling knife crime and youth gang violence, and improvements in the response to violence against women and girls; and the launch of a Burglary Unit – a team dedicated to tackling residential burglaries, which has seen victim satisfaction increase to 85.5 per cent.

Ms Roper added: “I firmly believe that 2024 will be an important year for Wiltshire Police as we continue to make significant and sustainable improvements to the service we deliver.

“This started with us launching our new operating model for frontline resources in January, which included the re-establishment of dedicated Neighbourhood Policing Teams to improve the visibility and engagement with all our communities.

“Our collective focus on making significant improvements is driven by one thing – Keeping Wiltshire Safe.”

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