THE public is being urged to “ride along” with police officers to help boost confidence in the force.
In a special briefing at Kidlington police headquaters yesterday to talk about the challenges facing the Thames Valley Police, Chief Constable Sara Thornton said tackling rising sexual crimes would remain a priority, while taking on new threats like cyber crime.
But she also wants to build on what she describes as the force’s most valuable assets – its reputation.
She said: “My experience is when people meet police officers, listen to them and see them do their job, they invariably have much greater confidence,” adding “if we want the public to come forward as witnesses we need to have high confidence levels”.
More than 5,000 of the force’s officers have this year been trained in the College of Policing’s new code of ethics, and the force has also set up a new and independent Complaints, Integrity and Ethics Panel to review complaints against officers.
It comes after high-profile police scandals including “Plebgate” concerning an altercation between Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and Metropolitan Police officers.
Ms Thornton explained yesterday that the Thames Valley force is also having to tackle a rise in reported sex crimes.
In Oxford alone between April 2013 and March this year there were 71 reported sex crimes – up 44.9 per cent on the 49 reported in the same period the year before.
She said the force had already saved £58m from its annual budget of more than £400m a year through various efficiency savings.
She added that despite having to shave £38m off its budget in the next three years, protecting the vulnerable would remain the force’s top priority and a new multi-agency safeguarding hub (Mash) was due to launch at Cowley police station next month.
Mash will be made up of police officers, social workers and health workers, who will share their information to identify and protect the county’s most vulnerable.
When asked if the force could rise to the challenge with limited funding, Ms Thornton said the resources would be found, adding: “We have to make sure we focus our resources on those areas and make sure our staff are trained to deal with them.
“It will be tough but we will give it our best shot. We have demonstrated over the last three or four years that we can both reduce budgets and reduce crime.
“It is about getting more bang for your buck.”
The Kingfisher team – also made up of police and social workers – was set up in 2012 to help potential victims of child sexual exploitation after Operation Bullfinch exposed the organised grooming and abuse of vulnerable girls living in council care in Oxford.
Ms Thornton yesterday said that some 185 potential victims of child sex exploitation had now been referred to the force in Oxfordshire since 2012.
- Anyone interested in the ride-along scheme should speak to the neighbourhood police team at their nearest station or call 101.
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.
Our top stories
12:09am Sunday 5th July 2015
THERE are concerns for the welfare of Mary Davis who went missing from her home earlier today.
8:55am Saturday 4th July 2015
HELEN and Douglas House founder Sister Frances Dominica has been told not to return to the hospices following allegations of historic sexual abuse, it was confirmed today.
8:30am Saturday 4th July 2015
THERE are fears the £75m overhaul of Oxford Railway station may not take place for almost a decade.
8:31am Saturday 4th July 2015
TWO men died last night after the microlight they were flying in crashed at Enstone airfield.
3:48pm Saturday 4th July 2015
THE final five bodies of the Britons killed in the Tunisia terror attack have today been repatriated back to RAF Brize Norton.
2:01pm Saturday 4th July 2015
THESE dramatic pictures of a lightning storm over Woodstock were taken last night.