Thames Valley Police (South Oxon. and Vale Policing Area)

Mid year update from Superintendent Andy Boyd (October 2013).
We are now half way through the financial year and I thought I would give you a brief update as to how we are progressing so far this year.
As a police area our three priorities this year are dwelling burglary, offences of violence and rural crime.
You may recall back in April I outlined how we had reduced dwelling burglary by over 57% in the last ten years, I suspected that further reducing this level of offending would be a real challenge for us but I am really pleased to tell you that we have now further reduced the number of dwelling burglaries by 23%. We now have amongst the lowest percentage of houses burgled per 1000 population in the country and the lowest in Thames Valley police. This is a tremendous success for the district and I would like to pay particular thanks to the contribution of the Community Safety Partnership, the Neighbourhood Action Groups and our Neighbourhood Watch schemes who have all played a key part in achieving these results.
A particular factor in our reduction of dwelling burglaries has been our success at catching the offenders for these burglaries. Quite simply if we can catch those offenders and get them locked up they cannot commit crime. I am extremely proud of our staffs that work in our Local CID Office and believe we have some of the best detectives within Thames Valley Police. We are set a Force objective of achieving an 18% detection rate for dwelling burglary and we are currently achieving a 77% detection rate, this is by far the best within Thames Valley police and more than twice the detection rate of the next best performing police area.
Tackling violence continues to be a significant challenge for us and we are currently experiencing a 4% rise in offending. These offences comprise largely of offences that are alcohol related and occur within the night time economy or offences that are related to incidents of domestic violence. As such, a particular focus of our activity to reduce violence has been centred on the night time economy.
Pubs and clubs across South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse now stay open longer than ever before and we are therefore seeing an ever increasing development of the night time economy and consequently increased levels of intoxication. Managing this night time economy and ensuring people are able to enjoy themselves sensibly is an increasing challenge for the police but something we are committed to undertake. We have increased the number of officers that are deployed across the district on a Friday and Saturday night and together with local licensee’s and partners we have further enhanced our “Nightsafe” strategy ensuring the small number of individuals who think they can behave in a disorderly manner are challenged appropriately and made to recognise their behaviour will not be tolerated.
It is widely acknowledged that for many years’ offences of domestic violence were under reported and often hidden within the home.  We have worked hard now for a number of years with our partners to encourage victims to come forward and report these crimes. We have had considerable success in increasing the confidence of victims to come forward and report these crimes and whilst we are keen to reduce our levels of recorded crime it is important that we continue this work and ensure our focus remains on supporting victims and ensuring their safety
As with dwelling burglary a key factor in reducing violence is to arrest and convict those responsible for these offences. Our Force objective is to achieve a detection rate of 45% for offences of violence with injury. We are currently achieving a 56% detection rate and have the highest detection rate within Thames Valley Police.
Reducing rural crime is a priority for Thames Valley Police, as the largest rural police area within the Force this is something we have committed significant resources and energy into tackling. A key element of our activity has been around engaging with the rural community and ensuring we are aware of their concerns and the issues they are facing.  We have developed a number of new initiatives to enable us to develop our means of communication such as rural text alerts to ensure land owners and farmers are quickly made aware of vehicles that are acting suspiciously in their local area. We have this year committed more resources to the rural community and undertaken a number of high profile operations, through this work we have identified and arrested a number of offenders, many from areas as far away as Wales and Kent who are travelling to this area just to commit crime.
The protection of vulnerable people is a priority for Thames Valley Police and something we work hard with our partners to deliver on a daily basis. We have for a number of years now across the district developed our own support network for vulnerable elderly residents who have an otherwise limited support network. This is a piece of work that we are extremely proud of and has been recently promoted nationally as an example of innovative best practice for supporting the elderly. We have this year looked to further enhance this network through enhancing the links between our Neighbourhood Teams, Age UK, Neighbourhood Watch and local voluntary groups. This network provides reassurance for some of our most vulnerable people and whilst working to prevent them becoming victims of crime it also offers valuable support, prevents isolation and hopefully contributes to their general well being.
As I always point out we do not reduce crime on our own, we are reliant on support from our partners and local communities.  I am extremely grateful for the continuing help and support we receive from South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse District Councils, the Town and Parish Councils, the Community Safety Partnership, and the volunteers who support us through the Special Constabulary, Neighbourhood Watch and the Neighbourhood Action Groups.  Thank you, your help and support is very much appreciated.
(For further information on the role of Neighbourhood Action Groups contact David Sibbert on 868734)

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