(COR0059)

 

Written evidence submitted by Mark Burns-Williamson – Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire (COR0059)

 

 

Domestic abuse and risks of harm within the home during this crisis

The Committee invites evidence on the following issues:

1.      The prevalence of these issues since the Government issued ‘stay at home’ guidance on 23 March.

  • Domestic Incidents

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West Yorkshire Police’s domestic incidents 12/01/2020 to 12/04/2020.

Although the daily figures do not show any large increases against the weekly norm for 2019/20, there has been a steady increase when comparing week on week which leads currently to a 12% increase in comparison with the same time last year.  This increase fluctuates across the five districts with Kirklees District showing higher figures and a slight decrease with Bradford District currently showing a 3.8% decrease.  It should be said that as this is the start of the year the fluctuations will be more pronounced due to the smaller actual numbers.

 

 

DOMESTIC ABUSE

Leeds

Wakefield

Kirklees

Calderdale

Bradford

West Yorkshire

Domestic Incidents - previous week

30/03/20 - 05/04/20

478

213

246

116

338

1402

Domestic Incidents - Last Week

06/04/20 - 12/04/20

506

243

243

111

341

1,455

Total change over last week

06/04/20 - 12/04/20

28

30

-3

-5

3

53

Cumulative total change over last year

30/03/19 – 12/04/19 vs 30/03/20 – 12/04/20

124

91

101

18

-27

306

% change over last year

30/03/19 – 12/04/19 vs 30/03/20 – 12/04/20

14.4%

24.9%

26.0%

8.6%

-3.8%

12.0%

Although the number of incidents from West Yorkshire Police shows a slight increase in domestic abuse, information and intelligence from service providers and charities illustrate a far more prevalent problem with domestic abuse since lockdown measures were introduced. 

  • Child Abuse

West Yorkshire Police shows no real difference in incidents since the government lockdown.  There is increasing concern that with the closure of schools and other arenas (such as sports centres, youth clubs) where children and young people have access to a responsible adult there is a lack of opportunity for disclosure for the child to a trusted adult outside the home setting.  Under normal circumstances it is hard to engage with children and young people who have been subject to abuse, the lockdown and social isolation for families and children provide an added barrier. This presents a real issue for those of us concerned with protection with regards the here and now, but West Yorkshire Police are also expecting a rise in child abuse figures following the removal of lockdown which will pose pressure in terms of support for the child and the capacity and capability to investigate these cases.

Due to the closure of schools, there is an increase in child neglect cases expected. Schools can be the only provider of food and nourishment for some children and can provide key access to safeguarding such as school officers and teachers. In addition, there is concern that although children who are being supported through statutory social care have been allocated school places during lockdown, not all parents/carers are ensuring that their children attend, raising questions about an increase of childrens’ vulnerability at home.

 

 

2.      Measures or proposals to help support victims of domestic abuse and child abuse at this time.

A meeting was convened on 02/04/2020 with members of the OPCC Domestic and Sexual Abuse Board and providers of OPCC commissioned domestic and sexual abuse services.  This was to discuss issues related to the increased threat of domestic and sexual abuse and to look at how partners across West Yorkshire can work collectively during these challenging times. They specifically focussed on the following in respect of both victims and perpetrators:

 

                      What’s stopped

    • Face to face contact
    • Panic alarm and target hardening undertaken case by case – staff provided with PPE (but with a limited supply of PPE)
    • Face to face meetings – for example Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) meeting now done virtually
    • Third Sector Perpetrator Programme closed all group and face to face activity – only telephone now and closed to referrals

 

                      What’s increased / reduced

    • All staff working virtually
    • All Independent Domestic Abuse Adviser / Advocate (IDVA) and Independent Sexual Violence Adviser / Advocate (ISVA) working from home
    • Daily welfare checks for victims of domestic abuse
    • Encouraging clients to use video calling technology
    • Laptops for staff – note some using their own but security measures in place
    • Work and support from the five Community Hubs
    • Access to website and downloading of self-help information

 

                      Emerging Needs

    • Access to PPE equipment (urgent)
    • Some staff challenge to work in confidential environment with children at home
    • Calls to Third Sector reduced but Statutory services are at same level
    • Refuge accommodation and capacity to move people/families on
    • Pandemic triggers traumatic memories, feelings, emotions associated with survivor’s experiences of sexual violence.

-          Being lockdown/trapped

-          Being controlled

-          Fear and anxiety

-          Distress caused by confusion, misunderstandings and lack of information

-          Increased pressure and stress at home

    • Support for people vulnerable due to asylum status, language and learning disability
    • Counselling provision – people prefer to use a telephone call than visual calls
    • Increased / influx of demand for services
    • Refuge concerns and ability of support from other areas
    • Requirement for Live Chat facilities and quick process to design and launch
    • Increase in the complexity of support needs and time taken to support over the phone
    • Requirement to also focus on Perpetrators  as well as victims

 

                      Service responses to date, planned and strategies

    • utilise existing campaign artwork with specific messages on COVID-19
    • Increase self-help materials distributed and available online
    • Planning for increase in demand in the near future and after normality in life returns.
    • Partners looking at accommodation assets to support refuge need
    • Increasing capacity for helpline
    • Still offering target hardening and alarms services and managed through social distancing
    • Telephone assessment for housing support
    • Planned internal comms for Police Officers around DA, support for victims, Bright sky, professional curiosity when speaking with members of the public
    • Campaign aimed at Perpetrators
    • Looking at IDVA provision in Police control rooms
    • Recommended to look at trial updates for victims being provided and done timely to reduce anxiety on victims – look at providing an enhanced service of keeping people informed
    • West Yorkshire Police - Set up Gold Command Structure and domestic violence and serious violence part of this

Headlines:

                      Referrals have dropped in areas and there are no increases at this stage.

                      Access to websites and self-help guidance have increased.

                      Significant concerns about refuges and accommodation to flee to – refuges are always full but the lockdown has caused the standard throughput to stop meaning there are no spaces for expected increase in need.  Areas reviewing plans and assets for a solution.

                      All Domestic and Sexual Abuse services are running as usual but workers are home based and majority of support is by telephone.

                      Perpetrators placed on bail for much longer due to CPS and Courts capacity.

                      Needs enhanced support for victims to be kept informed. 

                      Third Sector Perpetrator programmes now closed to referrals and only able to offer telephone service.

                      Concern of child on parent/carer abuse.

                      Essential to increase self-help materials.

                      Community Hubs established and are helping in areas.

                      Majority of third sector or smaller providers have had to purchase additional technology and equipment to maintain services.

Service provision for domestic abuse and child abuse at this time across the partnership has prioritised maintaining service provision.  Service delivery has moved from face-to face to a remote/online/telephone provision.

A key concern across the partnership is the access and availability of refuge accommodation which in many cases is now full to capacity with the added complication of moving people on due to COVID-19 and lockdown measures.  A barrier to providing further refuge capacity is accessing funding from the right government department. Cross cutting areas such as domestic violence that straddles a number of government departments poses challenges to partners and agencies being able to access funding to address the wider issues of domestic violence.  In this scenario whilst the issues of domestic violence are being addressed by the Home Office, additional funding which local authorities require to fund extra capacity in refuge accommodation sits with the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Further joined-up working and a coordinated approach between central government departments over cross cutting agendas such as domestic abuse that pose a high level of harm and risk is needed so service providers can access funding in a timely fashion to provide a response to demand and need in the local area.

Many services for victims of domestic abuse and child abuse were already at capacity before the pandemic due to spending cuts and pressures on partner and agency budgets.  The increase in demand is now putting further pressure on service providers to provide the right service provision to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

 

 

3.      Measures or proposals to reduce or avert domestic abuse and child abuse at this time.

See response 2 for details of planned activity and support to victims which also includes some proposals to reduce or avert domestic abuse and child abuse during the pandemic.

On w/c 6th April, the PCC, recognising the need for victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse and child abuse to have enhanced support at this time, took part in awareness raising including on line campaigns and media events urging people in vulnerable situations to use the available services to offer for support and advice and access help.

Further awareness campaigns are planned to highlight concerns to the public on domestic abuse and child abuse that encourage reporting from the public – ‘behind closed doors’.

The PCC has put further emphasis on the use of Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs). West Yorkshire Police have a dedicated team to prepare and pursue these at court, and this is part of the work which the courts are prioritising.  We are not aware of a rise in the number of DVPOs which the police are applying for, however, we are also not seeing any real rise in the reporting of DA, when we know that support agencies are receiving a much higher than usual take up for help.  It appears that whilst DA is rising due to the lockdown situation, victims are unable, or too afraid to report.  Knowing that there is a reduced chance that offenders will be charged, under the current protocol will not encourage them to come forward, especially if they are repeat victims.

 

The lockdown and self-isolation has provided many challenges for service delivery, particularly in respect to victims of domestic violence. West Yorkshire Police have introduced telephone witness statements to help mitigate against this issue. In relation to self-isolation and perpetrators who have declined to attend the Police Station for voluntary interview, West Yorkshire Police have embraced the National Decision Model in terms of balancing the threat/risk and where appropriate have resorted to arresting such perpetrators.

 

The PCC has announced an Extra Ordinary Safer Community Fund Grant Round – Keeping our Communities Safe with £150,000 to support projects which will Safeguard vulnerable people and target Domestic and Sexual Abuse, including Child Sexual Abuse or Exploitation, Mental Health, Fraud, and Drugs and Alcohol.  This is aiming to fund community projects working to safeguard vulnerable people and support their communities to deal with the fallout of Coronavirus with a focus on projects which will:

 

  • detail new or additional methods of help/support including online and telephone support
  • support community based solutions,
  • identify innovative ways to prevent crime and ASB and reduce demands on emergency services
  • provide resources which support communities to safeguard themselves and those they care about.

 

 

4.      Preparedness of responders and service providers to address the needs of victims during the pandemic

On 3rd March 2020 the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) sent an email to each of the commissioned services to request a copy of their Business Continuity Plans (BCP’s).  This was to enable the office to understand any service disruption that may occur and to ensure that we were well informed of their planning and any support that may be required.  For those services that were part of a larger organisational plan we asked them to provide a copy / details of the plan for assurances.  For those who did not have a plan in place, we attached a copy of a basic Business Continuity Plan template to use if needed in order to support them not having to start from scratch.

 

The BCP’s were all reviewed and collated.  There are emergency contacts in each of these which contain personal details, so they were saved in a restricted area to ensure privacy of data which is covered by the OPCC Privacy notice.  We have received a plans and/or assurances that are updated weekly for our contracted providers and those provided high-risk provision.

 

Each commissioned service was sent a copy of the PCC’s pledge which was reassurance for organisations on PCC funding amid COVID-19 outbreak.  The pledge covered the following areas:

 

  •   Changing or adapting their activities
  •   Financial flexibility
  •   Discussing key dates or deadlines
  •   Listening to them

 

On 30th March a request was sent out to each commissioned service requesting additional weekly information related to the following areas:

 

Support services:

  • Changes experienced locally around this shift e.g. any disruption to services
  • Logistical issues
  • Impact changes are having on your services locally
  • Monitoring demand, trends and different types of issues

 

Sexual Violence support services:

  • Impact on SARC and forensic services
  • Managing the shift from face to face services e.g. counselling services to remote telephone based services
  • Contingency planning
  • Staffing difficulties

 

Domestic Abuse support services:

  • Contingency planning in place locally to ensure continuation of services for victims of domestic abuse
  • Increase in demand for services (narrative, number and percentage)
  • Contingency planning to deal with an upturn in demand for services

 

  • The move to remote working

Many service providers have had to move from ‘business as usual’ delivery methods such as face to face interaction or support from an office based environment to home working in a tight timeframe.  Service providers have shown a pragmatic approach to this ‘borrowing’ laptops from other organisations, different parts of the organisation or relying on the goodwill of employees for them to use their own computers.  Whilst this is a ‘short term’ fix, it poses challenges for the sustainability of such solutions over the medium term with many providers not having the funding to purchase additional laptops at this time.  It also poses problems in terms of information security with information on service users not necessarily kept on secure devises, adhering to and complying with data protection and GDPR. 

 

  • Criminal Justice and support to victims in the criminal justice system

The PCC has continued to link closely with West Yorkshire Police to provide support around Criminal Justice issues, facilitating conversations across the partnership and seeking out solutions to local and regional issues. This has included work to troubleshoot issues across all of the elements, including court opening and operating arrangements, changes to charging protocols (CPS) safety within custody suites, and the implementation of COVID-19 legislation.

 

The PCC has utilised our Local Criminal Justice Board network to identify any partner issues which could not be resolved locally and required escalating.  We have formalised this approach, convening an interim Local Criminal Justice Board on Thursday 9th April, with engagement from all partners at strategic level including the Chief Constable and the Chief Crown Prosecutor for Yorkshire and the Humber.  Our meeting was extremely productive, and really highlighted the issues which the PCC intends to drive forward, many of which are detailed below.  The meeting will continue on a fortnightly basis to ensure that issues are progressed.

 

Courts within the county are being rationalised into a Hub court, sitting at Leeds, where currently only urgent matters are being progressed.  This means that countless victims and witnesses have had their cases put off. 

 

The PCC was reassured to hear that the West Yorkshire Police Witness Care Unit, who communicates all these issues, was able to continue working to full capacity, despite COVID-19 measures, as they already have the ability to work fully agile.  We have also ensured that the messaging is right to Victims, ie, the process has been delayed purely because of COVID-19 restrictions and NOT because of any issue around their testimony.

 

The PCC is keen to support the work which West Yorkshire Police have been able to achieve with regards to Video Enabled Justice, with testing being undertaken this week to facilitate skype for the hearing of remand cases. 

 

The PCC was also assured to hear that defence solicitors are able to advise their clients remotely through a skype system which West Yorkshire Police have put in place, working closely with the Law Society, negating the need for any attendance at custody suites.

 

The PCC has supported West Yorkshire Police to develop a triage methodology for entry into custody suites for visitors such as interpreters and appropriate adults, which has now been rolled out across the region as best practice, and have agreed that ICV’s will continue their vital role, utilising this triage method, albeit with an appropriately reduced footfall.

 

 

 

5.      The effectiveness of Government advice, co-ordination and support for responders and service providers.

The threshold for key worker status set by the Government has resulted in specialist third sector practitioners working in fields such as child sexual exploitation no longer being able to provide 1:1 face-to-face support.  This comes at a time when the online and familial risk to young people is unprecedented.

 

The lack of clarity over PPE on what should be worn, when and by which key workers has caused much confusion service providers.  A clearer directive is needed to ensure that the limited supply across West Yorkshire is directed appropriately.  There are significant issues with supply across all agencies within the Local Resilience Forum.  Further support, guidance and coordination is urgently needed from government on this issue.

 

The initial set of issues which were circulated by HASC to colleagues on 27 March

6.      How police and fire and rescue service business continuity plans are being designed to best safeguard the public and emergency service workers.

On Thursday 12th March 2020 West Yorkshire Police established a gold group looking at how the virus would impact on West Yorkshire Police both operationally and for the staff.

As a response to the current situation, West Yorkshire Police raised a new Operation, Op Jinmen

 

Gold Strategy Operation Jinmen

 

  • Minimise the risk to the public by assisting Public Health to delay the spread of the virus and support measures set out by Government.
  • Maximise where practicable the safety of our staff by providing advice and appropriate PPE where necessary.
  • Ensure business continuity plans are in place to enable the police to continue to deliver a service to the public.
  • To reassure the public by supporting Public Health guidance and Public Health messages.
  • To ensure that community tension and intelligence/information is being effectively managed through strategic co-ordinating groups and existing structures.
  • To support local resilience partner agencies and local communities to mitigate the impacts of the virus.
  • Maintain staff and public confidence in the approach of West Yorkshire Police in protecting our staff and community and adopting a calm and moderated posture.

 

To support this strategy, there is a full webpage on the internal West Yorkshire Police intranet as well as the public facing pages on the West Yorkshire Police internet page.

 

As well as the normal performance regime, there is a new daily performance reporting mechanism, which records call volume and crimes/incidents linked to COVID-19.  The daily figures focus on the following:

 

  • 999 Calls
  • 101 Calls
  • All Incidents attended
  • Emergency Incidents attended
  • Priority Incidents attended
  • Custody Throughput
  • Total Recorded Crime
  • Business and Community Burglaries
  • Criminal Damage
  • Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Domestic Abuse Incidents
  • MISPERS
  • Hate Incidents
  • Online CSEA crimes

 

As well as the above daily performance tracker, there is a document that records all the offences that are based on the new legislation, along with a detailed description of each crime type and is broken down to a district level.

 

Interim arrangements to replace standard governance arrangements during the Coronavirus pandemic were agreed between the PCC and the Chief Constable to ensure accountability and oversight.

 

Who

What

When

PCC / CC

Daily contact to discuss exceptions

Daily call in the diary – to include weekends (DPCC/DCC to cover when necessary)

OPCC Exec / CC or DCC

Bilateral discussion to focus on COVID-19

Weekly on Thursdays aligned to follow the PCC’s weekly meeting with the Policing Minister

 

To facilitate the weekly Bilateral discussion an update is provided by West Yorkshire Police which details the highlights from the previous week based on the daily updates and includes the following items:

 

  •   National Picture
  •   Significant legislation changes
  •   Coronavirus Activity
  •   Coronavirus Enforcement
  •   Critical Functions
  •   Further measures taken by West Yorkshire Police
  •   Public order/Public safety
  •   Resourcing
  •    Absences

 

The key points and messages from the Bilateral discussions between the Chief Constable and the PCC are collated as part of the weekly internal and external OPCC COVID-19 bulletin.

 

In line with the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020, the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel will be meeting remotely to discuss West Yorkshire Police and PCCs approach and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The next meeting is on 24/04/2020.

 

The PCC chairs a briefing with all West Yorkshire MPs every two weeks, which will include the Chief Constable going forward, that creates a forum for to discuss the key COVID-19 issues across the community safety and criminal justice agenda.

 

The PCC sees Neighbourhood Policing and the continuity of approach of paramount importance at this time for the communities of West Yorkshire.  Ensuring a strong approach to engagement, visibility and community reassurance is key to delivering community safety.  Scrutiny into this area will be part of the Delivery Quarterly meetings between the Chief Constable and the PCC.  The next meeting scheduled is 12/05/2020.

 

 

7.      What trade-offs will have to be made by police if a significant number of officers are unable to work at any given time, and the potential impact of those decisions.

In conjunction with the National Police Chiefs Council, West Yorkshire Police have identified the below critical functions to be maintained throughout the operation.

Operational phases

West Yorkshire Police have separated this to a gradated response to this epidemic into five stages.  At this time we sit in the second stage – Status Green (as below) and will likely in the near future progress to Status Amber.  These phases of the operation show the situation, considerations and authority level for decision-making.

 

Status Green:

  •     Situation:

              Moderate temporary impact. There are some occasions where demand is exceeding               capacity, or where there are abnormal levels of sickness and absenteeism.

 

  •     Consideration:

              Temporarily re-deploying officers from ‘none’ critical activity into critical functions.               Deliberate dispersal of workforce to support delay phase and to minimise impact of               workplace community infection.

 

  •     Authorisation:

              ACC - Gold

 

Status Amber:

  •     Situation:

              Moderate sustained impact. Crucial activities cannot be sustained due to demand               being exceeded or where there are levels of sickness that require non-critical activities               being re-deployed for a sustained period.

 

  •     Consideration:

              Redeploy all officers from significant number of ‘none’ critical activity, to ensure               ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ critical activities are maintained.  Cessation of non-critical               staff functions, redeployment, and training to provide sustainable functions to support               operations. 

 

  •     Authority:

              Chief Constable.

 

Further measures taken by West Yorkshire Police:

  • Accreditation: With immediate effect, where officers are unable to reaccredit, Chief Constables are able to (and West Yorkshire Police will) deviate from ensuring accreditation for an initial period of 3 months. Further extensions will also be considered as the situation develops.  Force leads will have flexibility to decide when to begin the 3-month extension, based on different roles and requirements.
  • Agile working: is being utilised for as many of those in isolation as possible with other IT solutions being explored to enable officers and staff to work from home where appropriate.
  • Vulnerabilities: West Yorkshire Police has identified 640 people from the vulnerable groups identified at this time.
  • PPE: There has been a continued uplift in general PPE stocks to West Yorkshire Police in recent days which is reassuring although we are advised nationally that stocks are extremely limited.

 

Public order/Public safety:

  • Overall threat of criminality and disorder across the Force area is low.
  • There are some minor tensions reported in Kirklees District (around panic buying) and Bradford District (Scholemoor, hospitals), which are assessed as low/medium but do not require any additional support from Gold.
  • Disobedience is assessed as low/medium across the Force area, mainly because of groupings of young people congregating against Government advice.
  • There is one medium assessment of disobedience – a pub in Bradford that is remaining open. District are forming a plan to respond with licensing.

 

All of the above are currently being mitigated through enhanced NPT patrols and council warden patrols. Over time, it will become possible to identify repeat locations however, that is not possible at this stage.

 

Absences:

Current national absence in policing stands at 14.2%.

 

West Yorkshire Police’s current absence is lower (6% as of the 14/04/20).  The current lower levels of sickness combined with the drop in the overall crime level is allowing for ‘business as usual’ – ability to deliver normal functions/critical functions.

 

West Yorkshire Police has seen a reduction in overall crime types, there has been an increase in the numbers of COVID-19 related crimes and clearly a realignment of Police resources to Engage, Explain, Encourage the Public to embrace HMG advice and where absolutely necessary Enforce any such breaches.

Whilst the current West Yorkshire Police status is identified as Green (ability to deliver normal functions / critical functions), areas of note from the Local Resilience Forum Strategic Coordinating Group where they relate to West Yorkshire Police are:

  • PPE – the lack of availability of PPE and clear guidance on its appropriate usage serves as an inhibitor to service delivery (e.g. community policing, investigations, identification processes, prisoner handling) and, potentially, exposes officers and staff to risk of infection.
  • Testing for COVID-19 – the lack of sufficient testing provision inhibits quick time return to work for police officers and staff required to self-isolate but without displaying symptoms.
  • Law enforcement demands – need to respond to additional incident reports related to COVID-19 and also additional patrols to safe-guard COVID-19 related arrangements (e.g. drive through testing sites, mortality planning provision, temporary arrangements for death management).
  • Risk to community tensions – as social distancing requirements are enforced and there are restrictions on access to parks, other leisure facilities, and attendance restrictions at funerals, any lack of clarity on requirements creates potential for community tension.
  • Early prison releases – have potential to create huge demand for policing, particularly as probation arrangements are working to their Exceptional Delivery Model, if safeguards are not in place (tagging, release to a confirmed address, use of suitable release conditions).

Concerns of criminal justice partnership to continue with ‘business as usual’ is of key concern for West Yorkshire Police particularly in respect of the closure of courts and the knock on impact this will have in both the short and long term.

CPS and the NPCC recently agreed a new charging structure which was designed to prioritise decision making by our CPS colleagues.  This is a three-tier structure, which includes only a small number of cases being allowed access to immediate charging advice, and only if police have the necessary powers and desire to remand the suspect in custody.  This means that a number of lesser offences, including Domestic Abuse, which are still serious, but not serious enough, will not receive immediate CPS attention, with the defendant being either given police bail, or released without charge.

 

Our concerns are that the interim charging process is failing to protect our vulnerable victims in their time of need. We are conscious that many individuals will be trapped in homes with their abusers with little opportunity to ask for help.

 

The PCC believes that if police have a DA offender in custody but they do not meet the remand criteria then they should be able to seek charging advice to protect a vulnerable victim whilst the offender is in custody.

 

The CPS will argue that a charge will still be forthcoming at a later date via CPS local but this does little to protect the victim in the interim. The rate of victim attrition is higher for those offences not charged on the day and police bail conditions are seen as a toothless tiger.

 

The current stance taken by CPS is the potential to be too restrictive, and whilst we appreciate that court timetables will be severely restricted, giving a DA victim the confidence to know that the perpetrator has been charged (even if the trial will not be for some time) will ensure more victims stay on board with a prosecution.

 

Costs relating to COVID19 are being captured by West Yorkshire Police to enable a special grant bid into the Home Office. To date there has been no assurance that all costs relating to COVID19 will be covered by special grant and therefore it may require use of the general reserves, which will then need rebuilding over time.

 

 

8.      How the Home Office and its major contractors are working together to ensure the safe and effective operation of contracted services is maintained, particularly where these services affect vulnerable people.

Nothing of note to raise.

 

9.      Whether Border Force is sufficiently equipped to deliver any additional functions required of it during a period of heightened vigilance, and with reduced staffing.

The PCC is not sufficiently sighted to comment on the additional capability or capacity of the Border Force. Given their skills and experience in dealing with immigration and people, as National PCC lead for modern slavery and human trafficking, it would be hoped that recognising and responding to slavery, trafficking and organised immigration crime remains a focus of the Border Force. Additionally organised crime groups may be adapting or altering their current cross border structures and modus operandi to fill and exploit market changes and a vigilance through intelligence and enforcement is vitally important in the short and long term.

 

 

10.  How Police forces will support each other if mobilisation tactics, or other forms of mutual support, are compromised by the imperative to limit the possible spread of the virus.

Currently West Yorkshire Police status is identified as Green - ability to deliver normal functions/critical functions.  This would include providing mutual aid to other areas/police forces.  Concerns in regard to PPE both the supply and guidance on what is needed and when it should be used would be an issue in relation to officer health and safety.  Further guidance is needed from government to clarify what PPE Police Officers and Police Staff should be wearing, particularly in respect of providing mutual aid and public order situations along with the national problem of supply and demand of PPE during this time.

 

 

11.  The preparedness of forces to support Local Resilience Forums during a possible civil contingencies emergency.

West Yorkshire Police Co-chair the Local Resilience Forum. The OPCC joins the daily meetings.

 

 

12.  The effectiveness of Home Office communications to its partners, responders and the wider public about its preparations.

A weekly phone call with the Policing Minister has provided a useful arena for PCCs to raise concerns and seek clarity on issues. This and the information received from the APCC informs the PCC’s wider communications.