Wiltshire’s PCC has welcomed plans by the force’s Chief Constable to make immediate policy changes to how the public can verify a police officer.
Philip Wilkinson also praised the swiftness that Wiltshire Police had responded to concerns from residents after guidance from other police forces suggested that ‘waving down a bus’ or challenging a police officer – actions which could further aggravate a situation – would be a suitable way to assure themselves of the validity of a potential arrest.
Mr Wilkinson said: “I am pleased to see Wiltshire Police has acted quickly to the growing concerns surrounding police officer verification. Both the Chief Constable and I have been very clear that changes needed to happen, and quickly.
“The practical measures are immediate and a positive way we can start to give Wiltshire’s residents confidence in the policing service and rebuild trust. It’s a far cry from some other forces suggestions that ‘waving down a bus’ may suffice – what a ridiculous notion!
“Is it any wonder the public question their confidence in police forces when those are the only practical suggestions on offer to people?”
Mr Wilkinson also pledged other long-term measures such as vetting procedures and management processes would be looked at by the force, as it took immediate action in the wake of the Sarah Everard’s murderer’s sentencing.
“Wiltshire Police is here to serve and protect all residents,” he added. “That is an unswerving and constant commitment. The public can be reassured that I will ensure all vetting and management processes will be looked at and toughened up where necessary.
“I believe responsible management is part of the solution – and where we need to start.
“Senior officers should know their sub-ordinates really well and act immediately if they have any suspicions of ill intent. Colleagues need to be alive to inappropriate behaviours and report as soon as they have a suspicion. I want to see an overall culture change.
“The directive that women and girls should look after themselves better is insulting.
“Change needs to be immediate and start from within. Wiltshire is taking those steps already.”
Message Sent By
Zara-Ann Prendergast (OPCC, Campaign & Communications Manager, Wiltshire)