February 2017
The latest newsletter from the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.
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PCC Blog: Successful summit on unauthorised traveller camps

Unauthorised traveller encampments have been an issue for so many people for so many years.

Despite this, I feel it was allowed to rumble on in the West Midlands without anyone coming up with a practical solution that suits everyone.

But this month I hosted a summit on such camps, getting everyone round the table – from police officers, to council executives and traveller groups – to thrash it out.

Together, we came up with an action plan to make the first positive steps towards a workable solution.

The plan includes the following main points:

  • One set of protocols for the police and West Midlands councils, including clear, concise, real-time information that is easily shared and a joined-up approach to identifying and securing at-risk sites.
  • Use of transit sites, ensuring local councils provide adequate sites with electricity and bathrooms and looking at the option of emergency stopping places. The Land Commission should also consider provision for the travelling community in its spatial strategy deliberations.
  • Better protection of private businesses, including stronger police powers for companies that currently incur all costs if an unauthorised camp sets up on their land and a campaign to make it a criminal offence to occupy business premises.
  • The sharing of staff, including having single points of contact to make it easier for all partners and to improve relations in the travelling communities.
  • Better cross-border work in the wider West Midlands, including improving the way information is shared across the West Midlands borders and how the Combined Authority could improve this via its non-constituent members.

All of those involved in the summit will now work on making these proposals a reality because at the moment we are not doing the right job in the right way for everybody. This summit helped us see that and move forward on a more productive path for both the travelling community and settled population.

You can watch the meeting in full here.

PCC hosts best practice summit to tackle gangs and violence

Experts, community leaders and practitioners at the best practice summit

"One of the main messages from the day was the importance of intervention and steering vulnerable young people away from a life of guns, gangs and violence” – these are the words of Assistant PCC Ashley Bertie following a best practice summit on ways to tackle gang crime.

The Assistant PCC chaired the event, which was attended by senior police officers, policy makers and key decision-makers.

Held at Aston University, the summit informed delegates of the work so far by the PCC's Commission on Gangs and Violence, as well as sharing best practice from around the country and assessing the impact of gang culture in the West Midlands.

More than 100 people attended and key speakers included specialist officers from West Midlands, Merseyside and Kent police forces, as well as officials from the Ministry of Justice.

Also attending on the day were youth workers, community groups and practitioners, who took part in workshops, group discussions and Q&A sessions.

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Ashley Bertie said: "This was a hugely successful event that took an in-depth look into the complicated issues surrounding street gangs.

"It explored key issues, such as involving young people in our approach, how we can build stronger community links, developing a multi-agency action plan and what is currently working in terms of interventions and diversions.

"One of the main messages from the day was the importance of intervention and steering vulnerable young people away from a life of guns, gangs and violence.

"The summit was a big step in the journey of the PCC's Commission on Gangs and Violence, which will be publishing an in-depth report into the issue in the spring."

New Youth Intervention Workers launching in Birmingham and Solihull

Assistant PCC Ashley Bertie with Sophie Wilson and Ruw Shears from Sova and Inspector Colin Barnes from West Midlands Police

Vulnerable young people who are at risk of falling into a life of crime are to be supported by new Youth Intervention Workers (YIWs).

Thanks in part to funding from West Midlands PCC, six YIWs will work with West Midlands Police to help young people get into employment, education or training. The number is then set to double in the spring.

The YIWs are part of the £50 million Youth Promise Plus scheme, which aims to see more than 16,000 young people aged between 15 to 29 get back on the right track. Youth Promise Plus is backed by local councils, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, Transport for West Midlands, The Prince's Trust and West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, who has put £1 million into the pot.

The YIWs were introduced at a launch event in Birmingham on February 14. They are:

  • Nicole Woodcock for Bournville
  • Sundeep Bassi for Sutton Coldfield
  • Amy Hall for Stechford
  • Shamuil Rahman for Chelmsley Wood
  • Sundeep Saina and Paul Moss for Handsworth

Police officers who come into contact with young people with complex needs will refer them on to the YIWs, who will dedicate months to supporting them and turning their lives around for the better.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "These Youth Intervention Workers will do vital work in supporting young people who may feel as if their lives are spiralling out of control.

"They will carry out key prevention work to ensure the West Midlands has fewer criminals and, more importantly, fewer victims.

"The new workers will specialise in working through whatever issues the young people may have to get them into employment, education or training.

"I am happy to support Youth Promise Plus to the tune of £1 million."

Inspector Paul Foster from Solihull's Offender Management Team added: "The new YIWs will become an integral part of West Midlands Police's Local Offender Management Units.

"They will be a vital link between the police and young people who have a variety of complex needs or issues that put them at risk of offending.

"This is all about prevention: by getting these young people into employment, education or training there will be fewer crimes, less harm and fewer victims."

Assistant PCC Ashely Bertie added: "The YIWs will provide a lasting legacy in Birmingham. They will be the glue that holds so much of our work with young people together."

PCC funds conference on forced marriage and honour-based violence after service helps 551 people

A service supporting the victims of forced marriage and honour-based violence that receives £110,000 of funding from the PCC has helped 551 people in the past year.
The PCC provides financial support to West Midlands Domestic Violence Consortium – and this month funded and opened a conference for the group.
The conference, entitled Learning from Survivors' Voices, took place at Tally Ho! and was attended by more than 200 people, with speakers from West Midlands Police and experts from the consortium itself, which comprises a variety of groups that support victims and have extensive experience in tackling forced marriage and honour-based violence. Campaigner Jagdeesh Singh also spoke eloquently on the murder of his sister Surjeet Athwal by her husband and mother-in-law and what can be learned from his experience of seeking justice. 

In total, the work of the consortium has reached more than 3,300 people in the past year through awareness-raising workshops, training in schools and sessions with professionals in the voluntary and statutory sectors.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "It is vital that we instil within the victims of these crimes a confidence to come forward for support, guidance and a safe and confidential space.
"The work the consortium does is essential in not only supporting victims but also raising awareness among children and young people.
"The conference was an informative and inspiring event, where best practice, learning experiences and incredible stories were shared. I was honoured to open the event and to continue to support West Midlands Domestic Violence Consortium."

Nasheima Sheikh, Assistant Chief Executive of Birmingham and Solihull Women's Aid, added: "We are enormously grateful for funding from the PCC that has enabled us to reach so many people and ensure that victims know who to turn to for support. This highly successful event shows the thirst for knowledge about FM and how important this issue is in the West."

News Bulletins
  • Aston’s auctioneers in Dudley held a police auction, with items seized from criminals going under the hammer. Rolex watches, gold chains and a Galliano blazer were among the lots. The ill-gotten gains were a mixture of court seizures and Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and Police Property Act (PPA) items. POCA and PPA cash goes into the Commissioner's £1 million Active Citizens Fund, which supports good causes around the region. The results of the auction will be in the next newsletter.
  • A major new study to investigate hate crime in the West Midlands and to shape the development of improved support services for victims is being led by the University of Leicester. The research, which is funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, will be led by Dr Stevie-Jade Hardy and Professor Neil Chakraborti from the University of Leicester Centre for Hate Studies within the Department of Criminology between February and April 2017. You can take part here.
  • A high-level group of councillors and members of the Police and Crime Panel, visited the newly-refurbished West Midlands Police Headquarters with Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson and Chief Constable Dave Thompson. After the visit, Police and Crime Panel member and Solihull councillor Diana Holl-Allen MBE said: “This is an excellent modern building that will enable officers and staff to work more efficiently and effectively. It will save West Midlands Police money and enable the force to invest money into the frontline to protect officer numbers."

Assistant PCC Blog: Judy Foster

Clockwise from top: Assistant PCC Judy Foster presents Trudy Griffiths with her award; guests enjoy the ceremony; Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe

Women In Policing Awards 2017

It was an honour to attend the 2017 Women in Policing Awards.

The ceremony celebrates the best female officers in our force and the stories shared were truly inspirational.

The winners on the night all showed incredible strength, courage and community-minded spirit.

I was delighted to make the presentation for the Special Recognition award, which went to Trudy Griffiths from the force’s Public Protection Unit for her work on forced marriage and honour-based violence.

Meanwhile, the Officer of the Year award was shared by PC Brenda Pattinson from Coventry and Sgt Steph Rolfe from Solihull, while Police Staff of the Year went to Alison Legg from Force Contact.

The Inspiration award was again shared, this time between PC Terri Discenza from Solihull and DC Cath Dell from Force CID, while Jas Singh from Coventry was named Unsung Heroine.

These women make West Midlands Police the truly great force it is today and I think it is absolutely right we celebrate them in this way.

It was an honour to present awards on the night and I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and nominees.

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