Communities enjoy high level of local policing they expect

The Queen's baton relay, which is currently touring Commonwealth countries around the world, will pass through Ayrshire on its way to Glasgow for the 2014 games.
The Queen's baton relay, which is currently touring Commonwealth countries around the world, will pass through Ayrshire on its way to Glasgow for the 2014 games.

2013 was a busy and successful year for policing in Ayrshire. The move to a single force, and our focus on local policing, ensured the transition was seamless and that communities across Ayrshire continue to enjoy the high level of local policing service delivery they have come to expect. Divisional performance remains extremely strong, with recorded crime at a 39 year low and 181 fewer victims of violent crime across Ayrshire since 1 April 2013, against the same period last year, with more than 8 in every 10 crimes of violence detected and those responsible arrested. Looking forward, 2014 promises to be an exciting and busy year for Police Scotland, commencing with the Queens Baton Relay, which will visit every local authority area in Scotland before arriving in Glasgow for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games on 23 July. Communities across Ayrshire will have an opportunity to buy into the spirit of the Games and turn out to support the baton as it completes its journey across Ayrshire in the weeks leading up to the start of the Games.

The Ryder Cup, which reportedly attracts the largest worldwide television audience of any sporting event follows on from the Games. The Games in particular will place a considerable demand on Police Scotland resources across the country. Planning is at an advanced stage however and officers and members of the special constabulary in Ayrshire look forward to playing their part in this unique policing experience which will showcase Scotland’s ability to host and successfully delivery major international events. Further information regarding the Games and the Queens Baton Relay will feature in future newsletters.

Keeping People Safe – Divisional Performance

Divisional performance remains extremely strong, with total crime down 5.1% across Ayrshire since 1 April 2013. Violent crime is down 7% compared to the same period last year and down 32.8% overall over the past 5 years. Serious Assault is down 10.4% with 21 fewer victims and a reduction of 38% overall against the five year average. Robberies are also down by 4% which is three fewer victims. Murders and Attempted Murders are down 33%. Crimes of Dishonesty overall are down 2% with break-ins to dwelling houses down 10%. Vehicle crime is down 13% with Theft of Motor Vehicles down 24% and break-ins to vehicles down 9%.

Ayrshire continues to be a safe place to live, work and grown up.

More detailed figures, relative to individual communities across Ayrshire, are contained within the recently published Multi Member Ward updates, which are available on the Police Scotland website. As ever, I would welcome your comments on these. Please also look out for our regular appeals and updates on the Police Scotland Facebook page and our local Twitter feeds. Just last week we released an image on Facebook of a male wanted in connection with a Robbery in Kilmarnock, within two hours he had been identified and apprehended. An excellent result - the power of social media!

Festive Initiatives 
- Results

Our Festive campaigns ensured that residents and visitors to Ayrshire were able to enjoy a safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year. Additional patrols, utilising a combination of high visibility uniform and plainclothes officers, were deployed in and around our town centres during the day and early evening, as well as over the weekends, to deal with the increase in volume of people shopping and using the areas many bars, clubs and restaurants. This period saw targeted and focussed proactive police activity aimed at preventing and detecting Robbery, Violence, Domestic Abuse and Antisocial Behaviour. ‘Stay Safe’, ‘Shop Safe’ and ‘Party Safe’ posters were put up around shops and town centres, and postcards handed out with reminders about personal safety. Licensed premises were visited and encouraged to ensure they were providing safe environments for patrons and to contact the police at an early stage if any issues arose. CPT officers also ran a ‘Dark House’ scheme offering crime prevention advice to householders regarding not leaving their homes in darkness during the evenings.

This approach delivered extremely positive results during what was an exceptionally busy time for policing in Ayrshire. Our town centres, particularly in and around the many bars and clubs, remained largely free of serious incident, making for a safe and enjoyable festive period. Our proactive approach to tackling domestic abuse was also successful with a reduction in the number of domestic abuse incidents overall and only one high tariff offender re-offending over the period.

Prevention First 
- Keeping People Safe

Prevention First is a new community based local policing and partnership initiative which will commence in the Irvine East, Irvine West and Kilwinning wards of North Ayrshire on Monday 3 February 2014. Prevention First aims to reduce victimisation, reduce offending and reduce the locations where offending takes place. Local officers will work closely with partners in the area, joining up our collective response and tackling those issues that are of concern to communities. We will share information and collaborate in a timely way to target prolific offenders and repeat locations, seeking to deliver solutions which are effective, sustainable and reduce the potential for recurrence. By staying on top of the local criminal environment we hope to change the conditions that drive crime within our communities, ultimately resulting in fewer victims, fewer offenders and fewer locations where crime takes place. I will keep you updated with details of progress.

Ayrshire Division joins Operation RAC

Whilst break-ins to domestic dwellings are down overall in Ayrshire, garden sheds and lock ups continue to be targeted. Consequently, Ayrshire Division has joined Operation RAC and has developed a plan to tackle break-ins to domestic dwellings and garden sheds in the area. Early success has been achieved with a number of arrests, including the arrest of a male in South Ayrshire who was responsible for 19 crimes.

Members of the public are being reminded to check the security of their property and the value of goods left in garden sheds and lockups. Operation RAC incorporates a proactive and reactive approach to detecting and deterring break-ins and also a media strategy to ensure the community is aware of target hardening and relevant safety advice from a wide variety of sources. I have dedicated local officers to Operation RAC in Ayrshire and I am confident that the operation will also encourage opportunities for meaningful, lasting and effective partnership working. I will keep you up to date with all noteworthy arrests, initiatives and detections.

Local Police Plans 

Work is ongoing on the 2014-2017 Local Police Plans for North, East and South Ayrshire. Following our annual consultation exercise with residents in every multi member ward across Ayrshire during the autumn of 2013 we are now consulting more widely on the policing priorities for each of the three local authority areas.  These consultation exercises play an important part in identifying and agreeing the local policing priorities and objectives for each area over the coming 3 years to ensure that local policing services are delivered effectively and address issues of concern to communities. We will continue to engage with the 3 local authorities as the plans are developed and submit these in due course for the relevant approval.

Scrutiny Boards

As the Local Policing Commander for Ayrshire I regularly attend local Scrutiny Boards at South, East and North Ayrshire updating on our progress and delivery against the priorities identified in the Local Police Plans for each area. On 21 January I attended the South Ayrshire Scrutiny Board where I was able to report on the very strong performance the division continues to deliver across all four of the priorities captured within the Local Police Plan. I look forward to attending the North Ayrshire (Police, Fire and Rescue Committee) on 12 February; and thereafter the East Ayrshire Scrutiny Board on 4 June.

Early Years 

Ayrshire Division is keen to play its part in the Scottish Government’s Early Years Collaborative, which uses a coalition of Community Planning Partners to ensure that every baby, child, mother, father and family in Scotland has access to the best support available. To support this work, school campus officers in South and North Ayrshire have had their roles extended to incorporate nursery schools within their areas.

Early indications are that this is proving very successful, with the regular visits serving to reinforce the Police Scotland officers are ‘people who can help’. For example, recently my Community Officers in North Ayrshire took Primary 4 pupils on an Environmental Visual Assessment to examine instances of vandalism in their local community, giving the children a broader view of the impact of these kinds of offences as well as how they are tackled. I am confident that this approach will help to build relationships and support children’s’ development in line with the ‘stretch aims’ of the Collaborative. We are keen to identify other way we can continue to evolve this work and I welcome your feedback or suggestions.

Divisional Recognition Awards

On 19 December I was delighted to host an awards ceremony at Ayr Police Office recognising the outstanding contribution to policing in Ayrshire made by local officers, support staff and members of the special constabulary. All were presented with a certificate and those receiving the awards included front-line officers, administration staff and Special Constables, as well as a team of officers who apprehended armed suspects following an attempted robbery at an Ayr jewellers and an officer and member of the special constabulary who have worked tirelessly to establish and run the first Volunteer Police Cadet Unit in Scotland.

Public Counter 

Revised public counter opening hours will be implemented in Ayrshire with effect from 4 March 2014. A communication which sets out the opening hours of all police offices in the division, together with information regarding alternative means of contacting us is currently being prepared and I will forward this to you in the coming weeks. Public counter opening hours and contact numbers will also be displayed at each building from 4 March.

Contact, Command and Control proposals

Proposals for a reduction in the number of Police Scotland control room and contact centres will be considered by the Scottish Police Authority at its public meeting on 30 January 2014. The changes proposed do not impact on Ayrshire, as the control rooms and contact centres based at Govan and Motherwell will continue to provide services to the West of Scotland as part of the new structure being proposed. The work will, however, support modernisation of our service to improve the response to 999 and 101 calls as well as the management of ongoing incidents.

I hope this update is helpful and, as ever, welcome your feedback. I thank you for continued support as we continue to develop our services to keep people safe in Ayrshire.