On 12 March HMIC published their review into allegations and intelligence material concerning Jimmy Savile, which was commissioned by the Home Secretary on 7 November 2012.
HMIC’s report, “Mistakes were made” makes it clear that failures by police forces, particularly in respect to the quality of investigations and the sharing of intelligence, enabled Savile to act with impunity for over five decades. It is also clear from the report that Savile could and should have been apprehended earlier and that there is more to do to ensure that the police have a fully effective and victim-centred approach to tackling child abuse. HMIC raise the possibility that such failures could be repeated. They call for preventative action, and the report makes a number of specific recommendations which fall largely to police forces and the College of Policing.
The Home Secretary announced a thorough review of Home Office policies to ensure a robust longer term approach to delivering child protection within the Department and the police. To support that commitment, and make the important links between the lessons learned from these child abuse cases and victims of sexual violence more widely, a new National Taskforce on Sexual Violence against Children and Vulnerable People has been established.
The Taskforce, chaired by Stephen Rimmer, and with representatives from key Government Departments, statutory and voluntary agencies, met for the first time on 26 March. Its central objectives will be to ensure that lessons are systematically learned, that risks are significantly reduced and that it is the perpetrators, not the victims, who feel that the criminal justice system and public institutions are bearing down on them. More on this in future updates.
Freeing up police time
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Freeing up police time is at the heart of police reform alongside the introduction of police and crime commissioners (PCCs), the National Crime Agency, the College of Policing and a more independent HMIC.
The government has already removed centrally-imposed demands on forces – from top-down targets and performance management to excessive regulation and inspection.
But there are still instances where police officers still spend too much time coping with paper-based processes to capture and manage information, meaning they have less time to do the job of fighting crime.
The Home Office is working with the College of Policing and police forces to increase the scale and pace of work to give frontline police officers what they need, helping to free up their time.
Some of the work being focused on includes:
Enabling information and computer based technology change, so officers will be able to access and input information while they are out and about, with real-time crime intelligence influencing when and where they patrol.
Pressing ahead with police-led projects that evidence has shown to be most effective at reducing bureaucracy. For example, taking a more targeted approach to missing person’s investigations.
Linking up the police and Criminal Justice System processes, addressing recognised pinch points working in conjunction with Ministry of Justice.
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Revising the current framework for recorded crimes outcomes
In October 2012 the Home Office launched a consultation outlining proposals for revising the framework for recorded crime outcomes with the aim of improving transparency of crime data by capturing 100% of crime. To support police officer discretion in choosing the most appropriate disposals in response to crime we also proposed the introduction of a new ‘community resolutions’ outcome.
This will empower police officers to exercise professional judgement to ensure that offenders are dealt with appropriately and help support the government’s plan to bring an end to bureaucratic accountability and introduce democratic accountability under the police reform.
In light of comments received in response to the consultation, the government has committed to a phased approach; ensuring the final framework is based on a full consideration of the impact of any changes and will provide the police and public with meaningful data. The initial phase will see the replacement of the term ‘sanction detection’ to ‘crime outcomes’ and the formal recognition of ‘community resolution’ as a disposal from April 2013.
National Crime Agency update
There are now just six months to go until the National Crime Agency (NCA) goes live.
March was a critical month for the NCA Programme. The Crime and Courts Bill completed its passage through the House of Commons and, subject to the will of Parliament, is on track to receive Royal Assent in Spring 2013. The shadow National Cyber Crime Unit was launched. We have advertised for the post of Deputy Director General and expect to start interviewing shortlisted candidates towards the middle of April.
April will see the move to shadow NCA working. Shadow working is the term used to describe how the NCA will begin to operate in advance of it going fully live later in the year when all of the legislation is in place. Shadow working will mean that the NCA Executive Team can begin to shape the organisation and set strategic direction utilising the resources in the precursors, in particular SOCA. It recognises that legal authority and accountability remains with the precursor agencies but the move will see officers moving into the new NCA structure over the coming months as well as operational activity beginning to reflect the whole remit of the NCA.
Cyber Crime Reduction Partnership
In a speech at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, Security Minister James Brokenshire announced the creation of a new Cyber Crime Reduction Partnership to tackle the growing threat of organised and global cyber criminals.
The Home Office is bringing together police, industry experts and academics in the new Cyber Crime Reduction Partnership, jointly led by James Brokenshire and Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, to ensure police and other law enforcement agencies can stay one step ahead of online criminals.
Security Minister James Brokenshire said: ‘For too long the public’s perception of cyber crime has been a lone bedroom hacker stealing money from a bank account. But the reality is that cyber criminals are organised and global, with a new breed of criminals selling ‘off-the-shelf’ software to aid gangs in exploiting the public.
‘This government is committed to tackling this threat and we have already had great success. But we want to go further and through the creation of the National Cyber Crime Unit within the NCA and innovations such as the new Cyber Crime Reduction Partnership, I am confident we can bring these criminals to justice.’
Law enforcement agencies have had a number of significant successes to date. In its first year the Police Central e-Crime unit, part of the Cyber Security Strategy, has prevented an estimated £538 million of harm being caused.
The Minister added: ‘It is important that members of the public or businesses report cyber crimes to Action Fraud the UK’s national reporting centre. Simple steps, such as setting strong passwords and using up-to-date virus software, can reduce the risk of becoming a victim.’
A Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls
On 8 March, International Women’s Day, the Home Office published a new action plan to tackle violence against women and girls. The action plan has a renewed focus on protecting under-represented victims, such as girls associated with gangs and those at risk of female genital mutilation. It also recognises that young people that young people can be more vulnerable to violence and that changing technologies mean they can be exposed to new threats like sexting or grooming.
The Drugs and Alcohol team have been working with Crimestoppers on a campaign that tackles the commercial cultivation of cannabis. The campaign was launched on 19 March and involved a mail drop of cards to ‘hotspot’ areas which were identified by Police Forces. The cards contain the smell of cannabis cultivation that people can ‘scratch and sniff’. The cards also contained information about other signs to look for such as signs of energy abstraction. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the signs of cannabis cultivation and its links to organised crime to enable and encourage more reporting.
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