22 April 2024

Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Catherine Roper marks one year in office

“Wiltshire Police looks and feels very different now from the Force I joined one year ago.”

That is the summary from Chief Constable Catherine Roper as she marks her first year in office.

Chief Constable Roper joined Wiltshire Police seven months after it had been placed into the ENGAGE process in July 2022, when HMICFRS deemed that urgent improvements were required to the service our communities were receiving. Whilst she concedes that, one year on, the Force is still on a significant improvement journey, she believes that the organisation is performing more effectively than the one she joined in February 2023.

She said: “Taking on this role has been the privilege of a lifetime for me and I genuinely believe we have made strides towards transforming the service the public receive from us.

“When I took up office, I said that, within a year, the organisation would look and feel very differently from February 2023 and it does.

“The programme of changes we’ve made are to ensure that victims of crime, and all our communities and partners, receive the very best service from us. For me, this is not simply about improving enough to get out of the ENGAGE process. We must create meaningful and sustainable change to benefit the people of Wiltshire for years to come.”

Soon after arriving in post, Chief Constable Roper set three operational priorities to frame the improvements required in support of delivering Making Wiltshire Safer: Police and Crime Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan 2022 – 2025: Safer Public Spaces, Violence and Burglary.

Highlights of achievements made under these priorities during the Chief’s first year include:

SAFER PUBLIC SPACES:

  • At the start of 2023, we launched our Neighbourhood Harm Reduction Unit which is a partnership between the Force and OPCC dedicated to providing crime prevention, community engagement and harm reduction interventions across Wiltshire and Swindon
  • Safer Streets fund: in Wiltshire, alongside the OPCC, we have agreed a programme of 12 interventions across 3 streams; tackling VAWG & Anti-Social Behaviour hotspots, supporting delivery of Clear, Hold Build to tackle serious and organised crime and providing additional youth engagement & support
  • Safety at Night charter – supporting the OPCC’s charter to encourage night-time economy businesses signing up to take practical steps to make our communities feel safer at night supported by us and partners.
  • We have launched our Community Commitments, setting a minimum standard of engagement for our Neighbourhood Teams to ensure consistency across the county

VIOLENCE:

  • Tackling knife crime: permanent knife surrender bins have now been established in Swindon and we continue to work closely with partners (including retailers) to educate & inform – this has included us supporting Op Sceptre activity, knife sweeps and test purchases
  • Op Sacramento – focused on youth gang violence in Summer 2023 – resulted in 322 foot patrols and 80 stop searches, and we made 30 arrests
  • We have launched Listening Circles to seek to continually improve the way in which we respond to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)

BURGLARY:

  • We have launched our Burglary Unit – a team dedicated to tackling burglary series
  • We committed to attending 100% of residential burglaries, which we are regularly achieving
  • Victim satisfaction for burglary has risen by 7.3% points compared to the same period last year, and is now 85.5%
  • Wiltshire currently has the lowest burglary of a home crimes per 1000 population compared to our most similar forces
  • In County, 23 Burglars have been charged and remanded since July
  • In Swindon, 14 Burglars have been charged and remanded since July.

Chief Constable Roper continued: “I firmly believe that 2024 will be an important year for Wiltshire Police as we continue to make significant and sustainable improvements to the service we deliver.

“This started with us launching our new operating model for frontline resources in January, which included the re-establishment of dedicated Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) to improve the visibility and engagement with all our communities. 

“Our collective focus on making significant improvements is driven by one thing – Keeping Wiltshire Safe.”

Written by
Andy Munns
View all articles
Written by Andy Munns