Commissioner's Blog and Office Update - 27th April 2020
Last week saw St. George's Day pass without the ability to celebrate as many would wish and now, for Muslims, the ability to conduct the normal Ramadan ceremonies and celebrations are severely curtailed also. That does not prevent me hoping you all had a happy St. George's Day and to say Ramadan Mubarak to our Muslim communities. This blog also contains some information and useful links for advice for our Muslim communities during this period.
This lockdown situation doesn’t get any easier and following the Government announcement that we are to remain in lockdown for some weeks yet the stresses will grow and the desire to escape the confines of our houses and flats will become ever greater. Now, however, is the time when we show what we are really made of. When things get tough do we give in or continue the fight to save lives and protect our NHS? There is some light at the end of the tunnel however in the news emerging about death and infection rates, so now is not the time to start pushing to the limits of the guidance and rules issued by the Government. Do not clap our NHS one day then put it at risk the next day.
I remain content that Humberside Police are continuing to maintain a really good balance between enforcement and engaging with the public and, where necessary, explaining why they are not, but should, comply with the rules around social distancing. If people insist on ignoring advice and testing the resolve of the police they will be dealt with under the law and the Force have my full support in this. I can say I have seen lots of really positive feedback from members of the public about the approach of the Force during this period and this does not often make it into the press, who all too often will only look for negative stories about the police service who, let's remember, are living through this with the rest of us whilst trying to also keep us safe. Stay at home and save lives still applies. Stick to it.
Our work in the OPCC continues and it certainly has not tailed off during this period; in fact the exact opposite. We have been planning and designing new ways to reach out to the vulnerable to prevent them from becoming victims and working closely with Humberside Police to ensure their usual work can continue. That means we still need to get end of year accounts done but also ensure there is sufficient money available for the Force to deliver its service to our communities with a continuing supply of appropriate protective equipment. As Chair of the Local Criminal Justice Board I have to engage with all sections of the criminal justice system (CJS) to understand where the stresses are currently but also, importantly, how we can start having some trials. We are building up a backlog of cases as courts are not sitting, except virtual ones in very limited circumstances, and we cannot allow criminals to go unpunished. How we emerge from the current situation with a functioning CJS is very important to maintaining the confidence of our public in the whole system and our ability to protect them from those who seek to do them harm. This will remain a key issue as we progress.
I remain in close contact with the Chief Constable and other senior officers, checking on the capacity of the force and their planning for day to day policing but also emerging gradually from the period of lockdown. Be assured the force remain in a good position and have responded very positively to this very testing period. They are showing what I have seen over a period of time; they are a completely different organisation to the one I saw when elected in 2016. That is a credit to all the officers, staff, PCSOs, Special Constables and volunteers who have contributed during this period. We continue to recognise and rightly applaud all our NHS personnel and carers, risking their lives to get us through this crisis but I also want to thank and recognise the whole Force for their efforts. The vast majority of the public are behind you. Keep up the great work.
Police and Crime Commissioner
An update on our work
Our office is continuing to do business during the lockdown, we have held online meetings with senior officers in Humberside Police to receive updates and perform our scrutiny role, not just in regard to Covid-19 but in all other areas of regular policing functions. We have been updated on the use of Fixed Penalty Notices for those individuals who refuse to comply with regulations after taking advice from the police and will continue to monitor this. We have also encouraged the force to make greater use of the My Community Alert system to keep the public informed.
As part of our work on protecting the vulnerable, our planned Domestic Abuse awareness campaign has been undergoing the final stages of development and will launch later this week, highlighting the support services that are out there for those affected.
We have continued reviewing our Not In Our Community campaign to raise awareness of Child Sexual and Criminal Exploitation, and we will expand the information available for parents, carers and teachers to help them spot potential signs of abuse, particularly in the online world. Click the link to find out more and keep checking back as we add more information.
The Lockdown means we have have to adapt some of our services to cope with the situation which means we have not been able to run our Independent Custody Visiting scheme as we would normally, however our custody visitors are now able to review custody record documents remotely to insure those in police custody are receiving the correct welfare.
Due to Covid-19 many restrictions have been placed on all faith-based activities, including local Mosques and Islamic schools. Muslim Communities have been made aware that Mosques are no longer open for congregational prayer times and restrictions have been put in place due to Covid-19 (Muslim Council of Britain advice in place: 23rd March 2020: source: www.mcb.org.uk).
Follow-up guidance for the period of Ramadan may wish to encourage Muslim communities to continue to support the efforts of our NHS by fasting and praying at home and sharing Ramadan digitally.
The Muslim Council of Britain offers useful advice for adapting to these unusual circumstances and has shared a toolkit which may help: http://mcb.org.uk/ramadan
This includes ways to adapt observance of Ramadan to ensure communities stay safe; such as online streaming of congregational prayers and Islamic lectures, planning Iftar menus in advance to limit shopping trips and arranging virtual Iftars with extended family and friends.
It is important that all communities continue to follow Governmental advice on staying safe during this pandemic, for more information and support, in multiple languages and easy-read options, please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance
Please also share this information with older relatives and others who may not have access to the internet.
Recognition for our Youth Engagement work
Over the last year our Youth Engagement programmes have reached large numbers of young people and we are very proud of the achievements made, from the Tommy Coyle Foundation with their Box Clever Bus, the No More Knives campaign and our accompaying book with award-winning children's author Christina Gabbitas. Last week we were very proud to recieve a Certificate of Excellence in the iESE 'Celebrating Public Sector Excellence' Awards which marks significant innovations in transforming local public services. There'll be more news on this on our website later this week.
My Community Alert
You may be receiving this blog because you are one of over 30,000 people now signed up to the My Community Alert service which enables users to receive regular local updates by email, text or telephone from the police and fire services in addition to the Police and Crime Commissioner. It's a really useful service, even more so in the current climate, so if you're not signed up yet go to www.mycommunityalert.co.uk to get started.
Coronavirus Information where you live
For links to local council advice sites and other information CLICK HERE
Domestic Abuse - You are Not Alone
Posted on Monday 27th April 2020