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STOKE: PFCC responds to Potteries Young Labour

STOKE: PFCC responds to Potteries Young Labour

Staffordshire PFCC Ben Adams

Staffordshire’s police, fire and crime commissioner (PFCC) Ben Adams has responded to a letter from local activists who wanted to know what Staffordshire Police is doing in the wake of recent high-profile attacks on women and girls.

Potteries Young Labour wrote to the PFCC, saying: “We wish we weren’t writing to you on such a sombre note.”

The letter said: “Hearing of the murder of Sarah Everard and the unfolding case of Sabina Nessa, we felt we couldn’t stand by and not contact our local PFCC over the issue surrounding the safety of women on our streets.”
The group asked what Mr Adams proposes to do to reduce cases of violent and sexual crime in the county.

They also asked what he will be doing to ensure Staffordshire Police officers are fully vetted.

In addition, the group asked what is being done to tackle wait times on 999 calls.

They said: “We have had members try to make calls to the emergency services and it has taken over six and a half minutes to even just log a call for help.

“Six minutes is a long time in an emergency and could be the difference between life and death.”

Mr Adams responded in writing to the group, saying: “Thank you for your email and thought provoking points.”

He added: “I would be happy to visit you to discuss these and any other community safety issues you have and how you can help us to tackle them.”

In answer to the question on reducing crime rates, he said he is committed to ensuring that Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have the right strategies in place to address sexual assault, harassment or abuse in any form.

He said this was also the case before recent events brought an increased focus on violence against women and girls.

He added that his office is currently leading a review of the Staffordshire-wide plan to tackle domestic abuse, stalking and harassment – and will be focusing on improving prevention, prosecution and victim support.

Responding to the question about monitoring police officers, Mr Adams said: “I recognise that the abhorrent murder of Sarah Everard has caused immeasurable damage to the confidence of the public, not only in relation to the police but in the wider approach to public safety.

“I welcome the enquiries announced by the Metropolitan Police and government and where any areas of learning are identified or need for changes in procedure are indicated, be it locally or nationally, these will be implemented accordingly.”

He added: “Whilst in no way deflecting from the reprehensible actions of Wayne Couzens, I would hope to offer reassurance that his behaviour is not reflective of the vast majority of police officers whose primary aim is to protect and serve.”

Mr Adams said: “Police officers are held to a strict code of conduct and in Staffordshire, should they fall short of this expectation they will be investigated by the Professional Standards Department and receive appropriate disciplinary action and if necessary, would face dismissal or criminal proceedings.”

Speaking about response times, he said: “101 and 999 are absolutely a priority of mine… and this is something I will regularly be holding the chief constable to account on.”

He said: “I will be consulting shortly on my local Police and Crime Plan and better contact and feedback to residents will feature prominently in this. I would welcome your comments during our consultation on the plan.”

He said the service had been under pressure due to staffing issues during the pandemic, and that 27 new recruits had joined the contact centre over the past six months with a further 14 to join in November.

He added that the force is investing in areas such as social media reporting, online forms and live chat with police staff for non-emergencies to help reduce the pressure on the 999 service.

Mr Adams said Staffordshire Police is one of the first forces in the country to accept incident reports through social media, helping make it more convenient for people to report issues.

He said: “We are regularly reviewing the impact on 101 / 999 and as these are new routes for the public to make contact with the force we do anticipate a reduction in calls made for non-emergency incidents and enquiries for 101 which will benefit the contact centre’s capacity to manage 999 calls during high demand periods.”

The PFCC has also won two bids for Safer Streets funding, worth almost £1.5m and has also recently secured £0.5m of Safer Streets / Night-time Economy funding.

The latest tranche of cash will be used to improve lighting in public places and parks in Stoke-on-Trent, increase CCTV and deliver an education programme for young people to understand how inappropriate behaviour can cause fear.

Mr Adams also hopes to establish a Violence Against Women and Girls Commission to specially focus on issues faced by women and girls.

Words: Richard Price, Local Democracy Reporter

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