Sgt Peter Allan
Been out and about a lot this week

Monday saw me attending the West Sussex Divisional Awards Ceremony in Arundel. A variety of awards were presented to officers, staff, volunteers and members of the public for displaying outstanding courage, leadership, partnership, personal responsibility, justice, public service and compassion. More about the awards later.

Tuesday saw me in Crawley meeting my new boss. We chatted about some of the things I am working on and involved in— ASB, Hate Crime, Community Resolution, engaging with hard to reach, under represented and at risk groups, Street Watch, Street Pastors, Redeeming our Communities, Specials, Volunteers, Information Sharing, LGBT communities, Neighbourhood Policing Review Implementation, Social Media, Customer Service Improvement, Organised Immigration Crime, Human Trafficking and Exploitation and starting a piece of work that will see us working more closely with partners to improve the lives of what the Government term ‘Troubled Families’.

Wednesday saw me back in Crawley catching up with a couple of colleagues to discuss the progress of and next steps for increasing the divisional and force wide understanding of Organised Immigration Crime and Human Trafficking and Exploitation. A great deal of preparatory work has been completed and we now need to give staff and the wider community information that will help them identify and investigate incidents of this nature.

It was then on to a meeting with the Neighbourhood Policing and Response Superintendent and Response Team Inspectors. During the meeting discussions included our response to ‘repeat’ missing people, effective deployment of staff to incidents, efficient handling of complaints, custody issues and standards regarding behaviour and dress. All present were totally committed to supporting front line staff to deliver a good service.

Thursday saw me in Lewes for the day. Firstly I attended the Neighbourhood Policing Review Implementation Group where representatives from divisions, training and the Police Authority discussed progress being made with regard to the agreed improvements in Neighbourhood Policing. Ten of the twelve Community Engagement Officers have been appointed across the county. Plans are in place to recruit the Coordinators who will support the day to day running of NPTs to allow colleagues to spend more of their time on the street and in communities. We also discussed the long awaited training that is now available to NPT staff in such areas as media and meeting management, problem solving, engagement and anti-social behaviour to name a few. We discussed work that is being done around the shift pattern and allowing districts to develop working patterns that are more bespoke to their engagement and demand profiles, as well as a performance and an engagement framework. Lots achieved already but more to do.  

I was able to catch up with some work in the Foundation Training office before my evening meeting. 

The evening saw the fifth External Reference Group meeting for LGBT matters. There were some new faces from LGBT communities across Sussex who met the new LGBT Champion for Sussex Police, Supt. Laurence Taylor.

The group discussed and moved forward work to increase trust and confidence within LGBT communities by debating the makeup of a soon to be published survey that would seek to understand the under reporting of crime against LGBT people based on hate or prejudice. The group discussed its desire for positive outcomes in LGBT hate crime cases to be publicised externally and the chance to review and understand previous cases and procedures that were felt would assist in increasing trust and confidence. The ability to look at and discuss figures in relation to reported crimes and outcomes across the county was an area that would be progressed for the next meeting.

I have been involved in this group since its first meeting and am pleased with the geographic and demographic mix of members and the openness and quality of debate. I really do believe the work of the group will not only be a force for good in relation to increasing trust and confidence within LGBT communities but in other minority groups as well.

Friday morning saw me catch up with David Merrington who is conducting the post implementation review into Community Resolution (CR). I am such a strong advocate of the restorative justice approach and am pleased at having been asked to speak about Community Resolution – Sussex Police’s practical application of restorative justice – to groups of magistrates, colleagues, store detectives, partners, prospective PCC candidates and members of the ‘shadow’ Police and Crime Panel I couldn’t miss the opportunity to input into this important review.

So what did I say to David?

Community Resolution is well embedded within Sussex Police with over 6,000 cases successfully completed. Victim feedback is overwhelmingly positive about this additional disposal option. I do feel however we need to do more to promote the benefits of Level 2 CR – round the table conferencing – as the potential benefits for all parties are huge, we need to provide examples of cases and outcomes to officers and victims as there is a lack of direction as to the sorts of outcomes that can be proposed. This has led on occasions to the agreed outcomes being insufficient for some victims, especially some large retailers. We are doing some work to provide information that will allow victims to propose outcomes that are more meaningful to them.

I also believe we need to do more work to explain to officers and victims that the real benefits of CR are in allowing victims to reflect on the harm caused to them and to convey that to the perpetrator through the proposed outcomes. 

CR has proved to be hugely successful across Sussex and with a little bit more work I know we can make it more meaningful and rewarding to all parties, even perpetrators.

Wow, what a week. A couple of days off and I start all over again.

Thank you for your interest and attention……

Back in October 2011 Sussex Police unveiled a ground-breaking project that would bring policing across Sussex into your homes. Sussex Police People was launched with ‘live streaming’ of interviews with officers and staff who were on duty from a number of disciplines. The cameras followed officers on foot patrol in the nighttime economy of Brighton, deploying dogs to support frontline policing in West Sussex and traffic officers on duty in East Sussex.

Twelve officers and staff were selected from a number of disciplines across Sussex Police to engage with communities about their roles in Serving Sussex. I was lucky enough to have been one of those twelve people.

As the Community Engagement Sergeant for West Sussex I work with officers and staff, as well as partners and communities to increase engagement, involvement, trust and confidence in policing. It is hoped that this will lead to members of the public feeling confident to report crimes as victims and witnesses, to provide intelligence that will lead to criminals being targeted and disrupted and communities being safe places in which to live, work and visit.

I used a mix of video and written blogs to support my long-standing Twitter and Facebook profiles.

I hope that I have brought a wide range of interesting subjects to your fingertips-

How Community Resolution has been successful at placing the victim and the harm caused to them right at the centre of the decision making process, proposing how the offender can put right the harm caused to them.

How we are working to support communities who want to become involved in making their neighbourhoods safer and cleaner places to live with the introduction of Street Watch and Redeeming our Communities.

How important it is to keep victims and witnesses updated with how the investigation they are involved in is progressing.

How we report about policing and whether this raises the fear of crime or reassures. I would like to thank the many people who completed to my survey on this subject and to say that I will be publishing the results in due course.

How the blight of anti-social behaviour and being targeted through hate because of one’s sexual orientation, gender, religion, race, disability or other personal characteristic can impact on people’s lives. How Victim Support volunteers work tirelessly with victims to support and provide information, even after the case is closed.

Sussex Police People continues with some new faces working alongside some old favourites. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest and attention and to say that my engagement will continue through my Twitter and Facebook profiles as well as my new Facebook page, ‘Talk to me about life in West Sussex.’

If you would like to join me and others in conversation about crime, policing and disorder you can do so by accessing these links:

https://twitter.com/SgtPeterAllan

http://www.facebook.com/SergeantPeterAllan

http://www.facebook.com/sgtpeterallan

I hope you continue to enjoy following Sussex Police People and I wish the very best to those new members of the team who will be joining.

Time for me to say thank you and goodbye as Sussex Police People gets some new faces.

Social media- an additional engagement tool, not a replacement.

Excellent discussion in Brighton this morning with colleagues about the ongoing development of our social media. Lots of good coverage and practise across West Sussex, although some areas are stronger than others.

Social media is very much an additional communication option for us. It should not, could not and will not replace the opportunities for members of the public to speak to their local police, be it on the street, at the police station or other community building.

We do however acknowledge the growing use of applications such as Twitter and Facebook. Colleagues are very good at putting information - witness appeals, crime updates, engagement events and operations - into the public domain. Where we need to be smarter is in engaging communities in a discussion about what bothers them at a local level and to give them the opportunity to propose and be part of those solutions and outcomes.

Districts are in the process of selecting specially trained engagement officers who will develop and deliver a range of communication methods to engage communities, support colleagues and in many ways releasing staff from some office based functions to allow increased community contact.    

We will target activity to reduce burglaries, people being killed or seriously injured on our roads or being assaulted on our streets whatever communities tell us but we also understand that crimes and incidents such as minor damage, anti-social behaviour or speeding can have a disproportionately negative effect on people’s feeling of security and well being. So tell us what concerns you and we will work with you and partners to reverse these behaviours.  

Professional, supportive, impartial, non-judgemental………… and they do it for nothing.

Professional, supportive, impartial, non-judgemental………… and they do it for nothing.

Who’s that?

Victim Support volunteers. I met six and their coordinator when I went to Arundel on Monday evening.

I was asked if I would speak to a group of Victim Support volunteers about anti-social behaviour and hate crime. I met a group of dedicated volunteers who wanted to learn more about the processes employed by Sussex Police and our partners in order that they can deliver a better service to victims and witnesses.

It was a really great evening, especially as we all learnt something that we will ultimately use for the benefit of victims and witnesses.

We categorise the harm that anti-social behaviour causes using the Home Office headings of Environmental, Nuisance and Personal.

I was able to explain to the group how we assess risk at the initial point of contact in calls relating to anti-social behaviour. Our call takers ask a series of questions to assess risk, vulnerability and repeat status. Once this is completed the most appropriate response is allocated to deal with the situation based on the available information.

The member of staff who has the second contact with the victim conducts a more thorough risk assessment if the information leads them to believe the victim has been subject to personal harm. Those cases that are assessed as medium or high are subject to rigorous oversight to protect the victims, reduce or eliminate the level of harm and hold the perpetrators to account.

Sussex Police work hard to keep victims updated with progress of their case but often the level of support and the length of time it is required is beyond what is always reasonable for us to deliver. This is where Victim Support volunteers are invaluable.   

A volunteer armed with a brief description of the circumstances of the case from the coordinator sets off to meet the victim or witness. Volunteers are someone victims and witnesses can to talk to in confidence. They provide information on police and court procedures, compensation and insurance and other sources of help as well as supporting them in dealing with other organisations.

The volunteer is still available to offer support after the court case or original incident is over.

 Following my meeting with the volunteers I wrote to the six Neighbourhood Policing Team inspectors across West Sussex updating them about the role of the Victim Support volunteer and how local officers can support their work. Sussex Police can do this by being available to provide additional information to volunteers thus allowing them to provide a better service to victims and witnesses. In return the coordinator offered her services in speaking to neighbourhood officers during training days to better inform them of the support her volunteers can offer to the many victims and witnesses they deal with.

An excellent evening and a true partnership delivering ongoing support to victims and witnesses.

If you want to know more about the services offered by Victim Support or would consider becoming a volunteer you can find out more by visiting their website at http://www.victimsupport.org/

 

     

 

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender….. Sussex Police has it all sorted!

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender…..  Sussex Police has it all sorted!

Well we have haven’t we?

  • Our LGBT team held their fourth monthly online chat on Saturday 28th April.
  • We have sexual orientation and gender champions at senior officer level.
  • We have an External Reference Group made up of a cross section of members of the LGBT communities of Sussex. They challenge us in relation to our policies and procedures affecting the LGBT community.
  • At the beginning of the year we trained all frontline staff in relation to our new hate crime processes. Hate crime is identified and appropriately graded at the first point of contact. It is scrutinised by senior officers on a daily basis to ensure we have delivered the appropriate response and that the ongoing level of investigation and oversight is one that holds perpetrators to account and supports victims. Two members of our External Reference Group attended the training.
  • The Force from the very top downwards actively supports IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia).
  • Senior leaders, officers and staff play key roles in supporting the Stonewall Equality Walk and Pride, both of which are held in Brighton.
  • We held a successful seminar for supervisors and managers of frontline staff to help them better understand the issues faced by members of our staff who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender within the workplace. Three members of our External Reference Group attended the seminar.
  • Following the award winning work of our LGBT team in Brighton, we are seeing an increase in the number of staff across the whole of Sussex who are increasing links with their local LGBT communities.
  • We publish figures on our website in relation to homophobic and transphobic hate crime.
  • We have an Internal Reference Group chaired by a senior leader that works towards making Sussex Police an employer of choice for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, offering a supported working environment that encourages difference and challenges those who seek to undermine that work.
  • We work with the Gay Police Association (Sussex) in their work to support lesbian, gay and bisexual members of staff. 
  • We are increasing our work within transgender communities to understand their issues and needs.

Wow, that’s a pretty impressive list. So we have got it sorted…..haven’t we?

Well…err..no!   

Can we really say that as an organisation we fully understand the issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as they go about their daily lives inside and outside of Sussex Police?  

Can we really say that as an organisation we have the full trust and confidence of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are resident of and visitors to Sussex? 

Can we really say that there were only 111 homophobic and 5 transphobic crimes across Sussex in 2011?    

Ah, yes, I see. Well let’s not be too pessimistic. I think it’s a case of lots achieved but more to do.

I am confident that with the continued engagement with, challenge from and support of the force, GPA (Sussex), further development of the internal and external reference groups and increasing the information we place in the public domain we will see Sussex as a place where homophobic or transphobic behaviour is not acceptable, where perpetrators are held accountable for their actions and victims are fully supported.

Chief Inspector Jon Hull reflects on a successful RoC Launch in Burgess Hill

Positive Partnerships for Practical Change.

Positive partnerships for practical change was the message that rang out loud and clear from the assembled gatheringat the Triangle in Burgess Hill on Friday (17th Feb) evening. The RoC roadshow had come to town and an audienceof between 500-600 people heard how their town and surrounding villages were a great place to live.

The thirty or so stalls showcasing the work of local charities and help groups who support people in the areas of debt management, healthy living, mediation, addiction and family support to name a few were recognised and congratulated for the part they already play in delivering positive outcomes for local people. But for fifteen local churches and Sussex Police they saw the positive experiences that RoC had already brought to Bognor Regis, Littlehampton and Eastbourne as something they wished to replicate in Mid Sussex. 

RoC or to give it it’s full name - Redeeming our Communities - is a national charity founded in 2004 with outlets and partnerships across the UK. The aim of Redeeming our Communities is to be a catalyst for community transformation by promoting partnerships, which open up more opportunities for the reduction of crime and disorder, and enhanced community cohesion.

RoC brings together community groups, churches, the police, the fire service, local authorities and voluntary agencies to encourage them to work together in positive partnerships for practical change. As a result, statutory agencies have improved access to the support of community/church groups, and thousands of volunteers are enabled to better serve the needs of their community.

The audience heard from Debra Green –National Director and Founder of RoC – who recounted some of the positive results RoC had delivered in communities up and down the country. The RoC Café in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester is part of a full-time RoC Centre which hosts a daily Police Surgery with Radcliffe Neighbourhood Policing Team as well as a wide variety of other groups including a community lunch and bingo club, drama academy, Adult Learning Difficulties and Disabilities team and a Youth Church. The RoC Centre has contributed to a reduction in reported anti social behaviour of 51%.

Debra went on to say that RoC, “Encourages people of goodwill to work for safer and kinder communities, as well as developing life skills which empower them to make positive life choices.” 

Deputy Chief Constable Giles York was pleased to lend his support and that of Sussex Police to the event. DCC York said that the police are not always the solution and can sometimes be the problem to resolving community issues. He went on to say that there is a lack of understanding of difference within society, which can lead to suspicion. This is often the case when we hear that individuals feel wary because a group of young people are ‘standing on a street corner.’

DCC York expressed his confidence that with RoC, communities, police and partners working together they could overcome some of the challenges faced by those who are most vulnerable. He concluded by saying that if people see a problem they should talk to someone.    

So following an evening of music, dance, and thought provoking words, energy and support, what next for RoC Burgess Hill?

This was just a taster. Community members were invited to attend one of two RoC Conversations, which is where the real work begins. RoC Conversations encourage local people to get together to identify and solve local problems together. Once the problems are identified a plan of action is drawn up to reduce or resolve the issues.

If you want to be part of the solution why not put one of the RoC Conversations in your diary.

7.30 on 6th March at Gateway Baptist Church, Burgess Hill

7pm on 7th March at Willow Way Community Centre, Hurstpierpoint

For more details call 01444 230830  or e-mail: info@roc-burgesshill.co.uk

RoC Launch at Burgess Hill- Positive Partnerships for Practical Change

RoC Launch at Burgess Hill- Positive Partnerships for Practical Change

Community resolution offers the chance for children in care to be treated equally.

Following consultation between Sussex Police, The Crown Prosecution Service, Youth Justice Board and Children’s Services a protocol has been agreed for dealing with bad behaviour by children in a ‘care’ setting.

The way in which police deal with incidents and crimes in children’s homes is changing to try and prevent young people being criminalised.
 
Community resolution is one of the practices to be used by Sussex Police along with partners when officers are called to deal with children in care.
 
Children in local authority care have higher average rates of offending than children who are still in the care of their families. Where parents would punish bad behaviour by grounding or stopping pocket money for example, in care homes punishment usually involves the police. Although it may be acting in the best interests of all involved, it is likely to criminalise looked after children when there are other options of dealing with this behaviour.
 
Chief Inspector Ian Pollard said: “One such option is community resolution, the victim-led way of dealing with an offence, which has been used everyday across the county by officers since being launched a year ago.
 
"Community Resolution places the victim very much at the centre of the decision making process. They reflect on the harm caused to them and if they choose, propose outcomes to be completed by the offender to put the harm right. Community Resolution delivers immediate justice for the victim and makes the offender take responsibility and complete reparation for their action.

"It will also help police officers to have more discretion in a situation when called out to a children’s home and as well as giving care workers a greater understanding of what will happen when they call the police and to highlight the different options when dealing with challenging behaviour in young people."