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THE people of Northumbria are being asked to share their views on how to fight crime and prevent crime as part of a new survey launched today (Thursday 1, October) online by Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness.

The survey is the key feature behind a new plan setting out what Northumbria Police shouWhether you’re a local resident, business owner, or helping out at a local community group, Kim wants to know what the big issues are for you. She will then use those views to shape a new Police and Crime Plan outlining what the force should focus on to ensure Northumbria stays one of the safest regions in the country.

Since being elected in July 2019, one of Kim’s top priorities has been police officer recruitment and getting officers out on the streets, fighting crime and keeping everyone safe. As a result of this, the force’s latest recruitment drive has seen more than 200 officers hired since lockdown, 133 more than the Government’s uplift target.

The past year has also seen the Commissioner establish a Violence Reduction Unit which is working hard to improve lives and prevent crime and has helped towards an 18 per cent reduction in knife crime in the area before the start of the national lockdown.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “Our policing needs are constantly evolving and after ten years of austerity it’s important we take a good, hard look at our police force and think about the needs and the expectations that people have of the service.

“My job is to be your voice, speaking on your behalf on policing and what matters to you and your family. It’s your police force so I need to get as many views as possible from people from all walks of life and from all the different communities our force serves – urban, rural, coastal – Northumbria covers it all, so it’s important my plan does too.

“What really matters here is that you have your say. If it’s cutting down anti-social behaviour in your neighbourhood, reducing violence in our region, getting more police on our streets or a creating a future for our young people, this is the time to make it happen.”

To help get as many views as possible, Kim had also planned to take an engagement bus on tour over the coming months to meet lots of people to learn more about policing and community needs across the force area. For now, this has been postponed while the region adjusts to local lockdown, and will be relaunched once public health advice on how best to engage face to face has been considered.

When safe to do so, the whereabouts of the ‘Fighting Crime, Preventing Crime’ survey bus will be publicised on the Commissioner’s website and across her social media channels.

Kim said: “In the current climate, I can’t invite people to town halls or community centres so this is why I’m looking at taking a bus out to meet local people out in the open, touring the entire region and speaking to as many people as possible with social distancing maintained and face masks at the ready. Hopefully we’ll get the green light on this soon.

“Thankfully Northumbria is one of the safest areas in the country and I’m proud of our police force, but of course there are things we can do better. This consultation will allow us to say what needs improving and what we need to see more of. It will help me form a plan – your plan – to bring about positive change.

“I want to hear the good, the bad, and I welcome new ideas too, it will all help our work to fight crime, prevent crime and improve lives in our region.”

The Police and Crime Plan sets out the strategic priorities, aims and objectives for Northumbria Police.

People can respond to the survey online here http://bit.ly/PCPCon2020. The consultation closes on Friday 27 November.

All Police and Crime Commissioners have a statutory responsibility to produce a Police and Crime Plan.

The findings of the survey will be used to inform the strategic policing priorities, aims and objectives in the next Northumbria Police and Crime Plan. This will then be presented to the Police and Crime Panel for review, before being published in February 2021.

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“Right now, in our region, the pandemic is growing again and it’s only right that we come together to fight the spread of this deadly virus.

“We have to take action now to withstand this threatening storm. Nobody wants a return to the time when the disease was spiralling out of control – our NHS struggling to keep afloat, and so many loved ones taken from us far too soon. We all have a role to play to stop our region getting to this point again and just because you’re fit and healthy doesn’t mean you’re not carrying this virus around, you could be.

“These restrictions asked for by local councils will need a region-wide approach to make them effective.  Enforcement action will be taken against those who refuse to comply with these restrictions, including the rule of six, and put others at risk, but we need to avoid getting to that situation. It’s also crucial that the Government supports our region’s efforts with a testing strategy that’s fit for purpose and meets our local increased demand needs.”

“It’s important that we curtail the spread of this virus together, act sensibly and keep our region safe.”

 

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Changing Lives has been awarded £45,295 in extra funding to help protect the growing number of people who are experiencing sexual exploitation and violence in the North East.

The money is being distributed by the country’s police and crime commissioners and in Northumbria, the Gateshead-based national charity has received £25,250 from Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness.

This funding, which is to help victims through the Covid-19 pandemic, is being used to support the work of the Girls Are Proud (GAP) and Male Action Project (MAP) projects which provide pro-active outreach and in-reach work with victims, offering both emotional and practical support.

The Durham Police and Crime Commissioner has also awarded £25,045 to the charity to help victims who have been referred to the charity by police, the probation service, social services, and other charities.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “I know just how tough it’s been. For far too many victims, lockdown has made them all the more vulnerable – the abuse, the suffering, they’ve been put through hell. And the organisations desperate to help them have faced huge struggles too.

“Right from the start of this pandemic I was calling for this funding and, when we got it, I was so pleased to be able to help towards keeping things up and running at Changing Lives. It’s an incredible organisation that we need now more than ever to step in, to take care of, and to rescue those in need.”

Steve White, Acting Police Crime & Victims’ Commissioner for Durham said: “Despite these challenging times, support organisations have adapted to deliver services during Covid-19 and we are delighted that we are able to assist by providing funding to Changing Lives to provide support to women who are victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse”.

The money is part of the Ministry of Justice’s £76m package of additional funding to help vulnerable victims through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the additional funding, Changing Lives has an unprecedented waiting list for its support services in the Northumbria police force area. The charity has launched an emergency Covid-19 funding appeal which people can support online or by texting CORONA10 to 70450 to donate £10 to the appeal.

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A series of attacks on emergency workers in the Northumbria region has prompted Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, to team up with independent charity Crimestoppers to offer a reward of up to £1,000 for any information leading to the arrest and charge of those responsible.

Across the Northumbria force area there have been some worrying attacks in recent weeks where police officers have been spat on, paramedics have been assaulted and firefighters have had rocks thrown at them when attending deliberately started fires.

Crimestoppers is now appealing for people to speak up anonymously against these unacceptable behaviours and help prevent further threats.

The most recent figures for Northumbria show that in the 12 months to June 2019 there were 897 assaults on police officers, and 863 in the following 12 months. Alongside this, since November 2018, there have been 101 recorded incidents of assaults on other emergency workers.

Kim McGuinness, who is calling on Government to ensure the courts use their full powers when sentencing those convicted of attacking emergency service workers, said: “These attacks make me furious. We need to do everything possible to fight these crimes and prevent them from happening. This reward is about encouraging reporting and seeking justice – we have to make sure we catch those who are responsible and that there are appropriate punishments in place.

“Our emergency workers are the very people who put their lives on the line to save others. They absolutely shouldn’t have to put up with this. We don’t always know who the culprits are so anyone who does know or who has information, needs to do the right thing – it could be you and your family needing help one day.

“A paramedic attending to an assault on a fire officer, which will then have to be investigated by the police – this ties up all our valuable resources, taking them away from other emergencies and putting everyone in our communities in real danger. It keeps happing and it has to stop.”

Ruth McNee, North East Regional Manager at the charity Crimestoppers, said:

“This sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable. Even if no one is hurt or killed, arson can leave people homeless and penniless, and attacks on emergency services are now making matters so much worse. We need people in these communities to speak up, to tell us what they know – hence why we are offering a reward of up to £1,000 for information to help prevent future fires from damaging communities and threatening lives – and to ensure that those who assault our critical emergency workers are stopped in their tracks.

“At Crimestoppers, our charity has kept our promise of anonymity for over 32 years, so you can trust that when you tell us anything, no one will ever know. Anyone can contact us online via our untraceable online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org, or you can call our 24-hour UK Contact Centre on freephone 0800 555 111. The number will not show up on any phone bill and we are not interested in who you are, just what you know.”

Please note: Computer IP addresses are never traced and no-one will ever know you contacted us. For telephone calls, we have no caller line display, no 1471 facility and have never traced a call.

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MORE youth diversionary activities are the answer to curb growing anti-social behaviour problems, say two top North East police and fire figures.

As ASB goes up, so do related fire incidents and both Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer, Chris Lowther, share fears ASB could escalate, as the region recovers from the impacts of the Coronavirus.

TWFRS has attended 1430 ASB related fire incidents between 01 April 2020 and 21 August 2020. The incidents take valuable resources away from their primary role of protecting life and property.

These figures also come at a time when young people have experienced the upheaval of lockdown, a lack of school routine, exam results chaos and now the ever-growing threat of youth unemployment hitting an all-time high.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “After years of austerity and the recent challenges brought by Covid-19, the ongoing battle to tackle ASB is only going to get tougher – especially if we don’t look at the causes and do something about them.

“Problems are often linked to drink, drugs and deprivation. Many young people have had a tough time of late. Most kids who get up to trouble do so because they are bored. We know this because they tell us. They’ll say they simply have nothing better to do. So, we need to be putting a better option right there in front of them, giving them chances and choices.”

Speaking at a meeting with the fire service last week, Kim said: “Nobody here is measuring success in terms of how many arrests we make or the amount of fires we put out. Success for us is reducing the number of times people need to call our services for help. We both want the communities we serve to be the safest they can be and education is key.

“It’s about listening to and working with young people, finding out what’s going wrong in their lives and helping them to turn things around whether it be through sport, youth clubs or any place where they can meet positive, supportive role models and gain new skills and aspirations.

“We know this approach works, my Violence Reduction Unit has seen some fantastic results in areas where young people have been presented with opportunities, but youth services come at a price. If we don’t invest early on we have to pick up the pieces later and I worry the Government is still yet to grasp this. Youth services are the real emergency service and it’s our young people we have to rescue before it’s too late.”

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer, Chris Lowther, went on to explain: “Anti-social behaviour is one of the biggest challenges that we face. There’s clearly a need to educate young people on the consequences of their actions, particularly when it comes to deliberate fires.

It may seem like harmless fun, but even small fires put people at risk because our crews can’t be in two places at once. If we’re called out to a wheelie bin fire, that could affect our ability to respond to a life-threatening car accident or house fire.

Firefighters are often met with hostility when they’re called out to deliberate fires and we have seen too many instances of verbal abuse and even physical attacks. Youth engagement programmes, like those offered at our Community Hub in Sunderland, not only give young people the chance of a brighter future, but they also help them to see emergency service workers as role models they can trust – not the enemy. ”

According to Northumbria Police, reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB) rose during the coronavirus lockdown, although this can at least partly be attributed to ‘COVID-related offences’ being recorded as ASB.

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