Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen has praised Durham Constabulary for the sweeping progress it has made against her plan to crackdown on Neighbourhood Crime and strengthen local policing.
In a new performance update covering April to September 2022, the Commissioner reported on the outstanding achievements of officers, staff and volunteers to deliver on her Police and Crime Plan priorities and increase resilience across the county’s communities.
The report, presented to the Police and Crime Panel, reveals Neighbourhood Crime (Robbery, Residential Burglary, Theft from the Person and Vehicle Crime) fell by 23.5 per cent in the first two quarters when compared with pre-Covid rates in 2019/20. In addition, the rate of Neighbourhood Crimes that were successfully resolved climbed by four per cent to 15.9 per cent.
The force now has the highest resolution rate in England and Wales for the investigation of robbery, commercial burglary and theft from a motor vehicle and exceeds the national average in all but one of the 22 crime types.
This has led to the force receiving high praise in a recent report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Fire Rescue Services (HMICFRS) Andy Cooke who highlighted Durham as one of just two forces nationally that are performing ‘very well’ in its response to serious acquisitive crimes including burglary, robbery and theft.
In addition, the county has seen Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) numbers remain 50 per cent above the national average thanks to the Commissioner’s commitment to visible neighbourhood policing while a new shift pattern has bolstered the number of frontline police officers available to deal with incidents and deter crime during the late evening and throughout the night.
The force has also seen a further four per cent decrease in anti-social behaviour levels when compared to pre-Covid levels and continues to follow a downward trend.
The Commissioner remains the only PCC in the country to have created and recruited the role of an Anti-social Behaviour Champion giving victims a bigger voice in the justice system and creating a stronger support system for victims to seek redress for persistent problems through the Community Trigger scheme.
Commenting on the progress, Commissioner Allen said: “While there is always more to do, it is important to acknowledge the exceptional achievements of the force in putting into action my goals for a safer County Durham and Darlington.
“I take great pride in our position nationally and for the force’s continued pursuit of excellence. This performance simply would not be possible without the professional and innovative way our officers tackle problems and their ability to empathise and understand the impact of crime on victims.
“In my conversations and meetings with local people, I’m repeatedly reminded of how important it is the public see more officers on their streets. In July, more than 60 extra officers joined the ranks through the national Uplift programme and we also rolled out new ways of working to allow officers to react more effectively to high harm crimes which peak in the late evening/overnight including domestic violence and alcohol-related violence. All these changes have improved our capacity to deter and prevent crime.
“There are many more achievements, but our focus must remain on the future and building on this excellent performance. I am determined for the good work to continue and as Commissioner, I will continue to ensure our officers, staff and volunteers are well-supported and resourced to keep on making a difference.”
In other progress, the Commissioner reported on the expansion of the force’s call handling team which has welcomed a further nine members of staff.
During the reporting period, the number of 999 calls answered within 10 seconds increased while the number of 101 calls abandoned decreased. The average answer time for a 999 call during quarter one in 2022-23 was 25.4 seconds which reduced to 20.3 seconds during quarter two – despite a 15 per cent increase in 999 calls received when compared to the same period in 2019-20.
Violence Against the Person offences reduced by nine per cent in comparison to 2019-20 pre-Covid figures while fatal and serious casualties reduced by 13 per cent during the reporting period – a key priority in the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan.
Recovery support for victims of crime continues to expand with results from the first three months of the year showing free and confidential help by the Commissioner’s Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS) is having a marked difference and mental health and wellbeing. The report showed that 89% of victims surveyed agreed they were offered advice, with 93% agreeing the Police explained what was going to happen well.
The PCC wants to hear from the public on how much they are willing to pay for policing services through their council tax.
A joint campaign leads the way on domestic abuse prevention during the FIFA men’s World Cup.
Durham Police and Crime Commissioner, Joy Allen, has expressed her disappointment at the Chancellors autumn statement.