Report highlights effective policing response in Cumbria to Covid-19

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A report assessing the policing response in Cumbria to the Coronavirus pandemic has shown how the Constabulary supported the response and maintained its vital proactive policing service.

The report, presented by Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery, states that overall crime has reduced by 13.9% and incident numbers are down by 5% compared to the same period in 2019. However, these reductions mask the type of demand police have faced in recent months, which has included seven of the busiest days for recorded incidents in the past three and a half years.

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery, Cumbria Constabulary, said: “Our officers and staff have had to adapt to the challenges they faced in helping to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“During the first wave, demand for policing services reduced which enabled us to concentrate on our role in Covid-19 response. Between March and September, we dealt with 4,627 Covid-related incidents, equating to 9% of our total number of incidents. At its peak during May, this accounted for 29% of all incidents.

“Many of the Covid-related incidents have been categorised as antisocial behaviour which led to the apparent increase of 43%. Due to restrictions on international travel, Cumbria experienced higher numbers of first-time visitors, which had some unforeseen consequences. A significant increase in informal camping led to widespread issues of antisocial behaviour and criminal damage, which was addressed through effective multi-agency response.”

Whilst total crime reduced, some crime types increased during the same period. Compared with the same period in 2019, domestic abuse and child exploitation incidents increased despite an initial fall at the start of the pandemic. Greater confidence in reporting incidents and an increased awareness of the signs of abuse contributed to the rise after a series of proactive campaigns run by the Constabulary throughout the year.

ACC Slattery continued: “The pandemic has had a significant impact on vulnerability, with domestic abuse incidents increasing by 5% to 2,656 reports and child exploitation reports rising to 341 incidents - which is a 39% increase on the previous year. We recognised the potential for enforced lockdown to adversely impact the lives of vulnerable people and have been very proactive in encouraging victims to report any abuse that they have suffered during the pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic we hosted weekly social media surgeries on both domestic abuse and child exploitation with our partner agencies. These surgeries provided the public with an opportunity to seek support for themselves or someone they had concerns for, as well as reporting information to which we quickly acted upon. These surgeries were recognised as national best practice by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary in May and have been adopted by other police forces across the country.

“We have also noted a rise in incidents involving those suffering from mental illness. There were over 50 apparent suicides between March and September which is a 39% increase compared to the same period in 2019. The Constabulary is working closely with partner agencies through the Cumbria Suicide Prevention Leadership Group, which aims to raise awareness of support services available to those experiencing mental health issues.”

Calls for service have returned to similar levels experienced in 2019 after a notable fall between March and the start of July. The significance of this is that the Constabulary are managing this demand on top of the impact of coronavirus and the likelihood for further challenges during the winter months.

ACC Slattery added: “The current outlook is that the winter months will be challenging for us all and will have a significant impact on policing. We need our communities to continue to play their part by ensuring they follow the important social distancing guidance to limit the spread of the virus and to help save lives. Rather than calling 101 to enquire about Covid-19 guidance, I ask that people visit the Government’s website www.gov.uk or Cumbria County Council’s website www.cumbria.gov.uk, which will enable our officers to deal with your calls about policing.”

Answering times improved during the pandemic, with 999 calls consistently being answered within three seconds. Calls to the non-emergency 101 number have a median answering time of 3 minutes and 19 seconds.

ACC Slattery said: “Our priority is to quickly respond to emergency incidents, such as threats to life. There will be occasions where delays will be experienced on the non-emergency number, particularly when demand is high during this extraordinary period. Therefore, I would encourage people who are reporting non-emergency information to use our online reporting form at www.cumbria.police.uk or contact us via email to [email protected]

“With crime levels now returning to “normal” we need everyone to take crime prevention seriously and to protect their property as dark nights traditionally lead to an increase in acquisitive crime. Despite the range of competing challenges that we face, we will continue to prioritise how we work so that the most vulnerable receive the support they require and that we keep our communities safe.”

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “The past six months have been incredibly busy for the Constabulary.

“COVID-19 has challenged all emergency services and other public sectors across the country but Cumbria Constabulary have really risen to the occasion and successfully served and protected the public while putting their own health at risk.

“We are well-served here in the county and our police deserve recognition for all their hard work which I know will continue as they deal with the pandemic as the winter months approach.”

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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland: Report highlights effective policing response in Cumbria to Covid-19
Report highlights effective policing response in Cumbria to Covid-19
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