Supt Gemma Morris on joining PFD

The newly appointed Chair of PFD, Supt Gemma Morris, reflects on her vast experience and ongoing commitment to tackling hate crime in Dorset.

By Superintendent Gemma Morris, Dorset Police

Having grown up in Dorset, I first served with Surrey Police for ten years before transferring back to Dorset in 2009. In both forces I have undertaken roles across a range of policing disciplines.

My first post within Dorset Police was Head of Community Engagement. In this role I was involved in producing Dorset Police’s response to the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) Disability Harassment Inquiry and the implementation of the Police Service Equality Standard. 

The role also incorporated Public Confidence, Neighbourhood Policing, Equality and Diversity and working with Independent Advisory Groups, as well as various other groups representing seldom heard communities and those protected under the Equality Act 2010. 

I have undertaken a range of roles within Neighbourhood Policing in both Surrey and Dorset, which has given me experience in both rural and urban policing environments.

At Surrey Police I worked as part of the National Reassurance Policing Programme; and at Dorset Police I led a review of Neighbourhood Policing and held geographic responsibility for the West of Dorset during the Olympic Games in 2012.

I am an accredited detective with experience as a tactical firearms commander, as well as a kidnap and extortion-trained senior investigating officer. I have held the posts of Director of Investigations for Dorset Police and most recently as the Director of Public Protection, where I worked closely with partners to safeguard and protect our most vulnerable victims and communities.

In my current role I am responsible for Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Partnerships and Safeguarding for the Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole local policing area. I am also Dorset Police’s strategic lead for Hate Crime.

I am pleased to be taking over the role of Chair of Prejudice Free Dorset (PFD) and would like to start by formally recognising and thanking all of the current members of the collective for their hard work, commitment, and dedication to date.

I look forward to working with those groups and individuals who are currently members and hope we can continue to encourage wider engagement, representation and broaden participation in the future.

I am passionate about seeking to understand the lived experience of victims of crime and of the communities we serve. This will help us to improve the quality of service offered by the police and that of the PFD. Through our work we will continue to listen to communities and make sure everyone has the opportunity to influence the priorities and activities of PFD.

Finally I’d like to highlight that this week is Hate Crime Awareness Week. It is a week to focus our attention on making sure people who have been subjected to hate crime or who experience hate incidents feel confident in reporting to the Police or through a third party.

Hate does not belong in Dorset. Any crime which is perceived to have been motivated by hostility or prejudice based on someone’s race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, or transgender identity is a hate crime.

We want victims or witnesses to report it. We all have a part to play in ending hate crime and hate incidents. An increase in reporting helps us, the police, to understand what is happening in our communities and how best to tackle it.

You can report hate crime in numerous ways – online, by calling 101, visiting your local police station or talking to a third party who will report the incident on your behalf.

Workshop for housing associations

By Tina Symington, BCP Community Safety Officer

Following on from Prejudice Free Dorset’s No Place for Hate 2019 Conference, there was an action to hold an event for housing association staff. The request had come through from several sources, and housing associations, who had attended the event.

The initial event was planned to be in May 2020, as a face-to-face workshop session. Unsurprisingly, this event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are finally delighted to be able to offer it again via Teams to our housing association partners.

A workshop session via Teams is being held on the afternoon of Monday 11th October, during Hate Crime Awareness Week.

The session will provide attendees with the following:

  • A better knowledge of what Prejudice Free Dorset is
  • A better awareness of unconscious bias held potentially by staff and residents, and how to recognise this
  • How a housing association may be able to help tenants who are victimised by prejudice
  • What a third-party reporting centre is and how a housing association may become one.

The workshop session will include personal stories of people affected by prejudice, hate crimes or hate incidents.

Five different housing associations and housing providers are currently signed up to be attending with lots of staff members – and the PFD members providing the training, through the workshop, are looking forward to raising their awareness during this session.

We will be asking attending staff for feedback from the session and will update the website, in due course, with feedback from the workshop.

To find out more or sign up for the session on Monday 11th, get in touch!

Want to become a Prison Officer?

Want to learn more about being a Prison Officer? Perhaps you’re looking for a new career?

Come along to a free online event on July 1st, to hear more about this fascinating role from officers at HMP Exeter and HMP Channings Wood – and to learn more about careers within Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).

You will have the chance to hear first-hand from the Governor and a prison officer about:

  • What it’s like to work for HMP Exeter & HMP Channings Wood
  • Careers within HMPPS
  • HMPPS’ next recruitment campaign
  • The application process.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions, as part of a Q&A session.

If you would like to attend, please register your interest via Eventbrite.

Windrush stories

By Samuel Johnson

Today marks the fourth national Windrush Day in the UK, as well as the 73 years that have passed since the SS Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948 carrying the first Caribbean migrants to the UK – to help re-build the Motherland, Great Britain, after the Second World War.

On board, people were filled with excitement and trepidation on what this new chapter of life would bring them. Expectations were high and had been build on a psychological contract between country and citizen, and they believed in it as British people.

There was the written contract on which dreams had been built and futures planned. They were economic migrants but had not become immigrants yet as they had arrived on Britain’s shores with British passports.

Racist commentary was just a part of everyday life and deeply embedded in politics and society, and that said all I needed to know about either race or politics at that time. I never really understood the inferences of these words nor how it would impact my life. I knew that they were somehow provocative but simultaneously found the words people used to refer to me and other people of the Windrush generation intriguing.

The NHS faced the same challenges back then, as has throughout the pandemic. A huge backlog of unmet health needs and a shortage of nurses. By 1948 there were 54,000 nursing vacancies. Britain called and my parents Andrew and Pauline with their 4 children in tow, along with many more, answered.

They would go on to have four further children of which only three would survive. My Mother had secured a job in Aneurin Bevan’s new National Health Service as a midwife at Sherwood Hospital in Nottingham. By 1949 the ministries of Health and Labour were working actively with the Colonial office, the Royal College of Nursing, and the General Nursing Council and were actively recruiting Caribbean Women.

Britain’s dependence on a global clinical workforce was reflected in British immigration law. Even Enoch Powell, famed for his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech delivered to Parliament on 20th April 1968 during his tenure as Health Minister from 1960-1963, actively recruited Caribbean nurses.

I was regularly told to go back to where I was from. A sentiment I failed to grasp as I hardly left the neighbourhood in those early years and was never minded to.  We are not born with prejudices or values – according to the behaviourist theorist Morris Massey there are three periods during which values are developed as we grow.

But I am particularly interested in Massey’s ‘Imprint period’, from ages 0-7. Children are like sponges, absorbing everything around them and accepting much of it as true. Whilst the confusion and blind belief at that age can be traumatic for some, in me it awoke the desire to challenge injustice and a vocation to ‘fight’ for equal and fair treatment.

“Give me a child till he is seven years old,” said St Ignatius Loyola – the Jesuit – “and I will show you the man.” I guess that’s how I got to be who I am today.

Overall though, Pauline and Andrew would have been proud the way things worked out for their children. All seven went on to obtain postgraduate degrees. It’s easy to stand tall when you do so on the shoulders of giants.

Our giants are the Windrush generation, so it is important to recognise the contributions they made which helped shape the Britain we know today.


Options

Could you live different? You do have a choice
History is silent, but the future has a voice
Genetics sculpt your body
Your past creates your mind
Value diversity, as we’re only here for a while

Samuel Johnson


Dorset Police launches summer campaign to increase online reporting

Dorset Police has launched a new summer-long campaign to help reduce demand on their 101 non-emergency number.

This summer, Dorset Police is expecting a large number of calls and increased demand. To reduce non-emergency call waiting times, they are asking people to consider other ways to contact the police.

The new campaign – #ItsPersonal – reassures visitors and residents that Dorset Police has a number of officers monitoring all communication channels and will respond accordingly. Every contact the police receive about a policing issue is answered by a member of their team, whether it’s through one of their online options or on the phone. 

Here are some other ways to contact the police:

Report Crime Online
‘Report Crime Online’ is an easy way to report an incident or crime to the police. Simply record all the details on the online form, then submit the form via the website. The Force’s contact centre staff will receive the form, record the crime, and provide you with a crime reference number.

Request a Call-Back
Simply complete the details on the online form to request a call-back from Dorset Police the same day. ‘Request a Call-Back’ can be used to ask questions, report non-urgent crime, and receive updates on an existing crime.

Make an Enquiry Online
If you want to make a general enquiry, tell the police something, ask a question or report a suspicious incident (not happening now), then using the online enquiry form is an efficient way to make the police aware of this information.

Email 101 – 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk

Report Anti-Social Behaviour Online
Use this online form to report anti-social behaviour which is not happening right now. This information allows the police to build an intelligence picture of what is happening in your local area to help and support communities.

Alternatively, the contact centre staff are available to answer your calls, day or night should you still wish to call the 101 non-emergency number.

“Over the last few years we have been encouraging people to go online and this has been very successful, with many people contacting us through our online reporting options,” said Superintendent Jared Parkin, Head of the Force Command Centre at Dorset Police.

“We would ask anyone needing to contact us, if it’s not an emergency, to use one of the online contact options – report crime online, make a general enquiry or email us, report anti-social behaviour or request a call-back. By choosing to use one of these options your enquiry will be answered by a member of the team and you will be helping to keep the phone lines free for people without internet access.”

Remember, in an emergency, when life is threatened, people are injured, offenders are nearby or immediate action is required, always dial 999.

David Sidwick: What I plan to do as Police & Crime Commissioner

By David Sidwick, newly elected PCC for Dorset

I am humbled and grateful to the people of Dorset for electing me as their Police and Crime Commissioner.

I’ve lived in this county all my life, my children were brought up here and my family goes back generations. It is therefore a great honour to represent all of you – and that of course includes those who voted for me in the recent PCC elections, as well as those who voted for one of the other candidates and those who didn’t cast a vote at all.

It’s also an honour for me to work with Dorset Police, which I know is a great organisation full of dedicated, hard working people.

Many of you will already have heard about my vision, which is to make Dorset the safest county in the UK.

I know this is a place we can get to. Over the next few weeks I will be working on a new Police and Crime Plan for Dorset, which will be the roadmap setting out how we can get there.

The plan will be at the heart of all activity carried out by Dorset Police, as well as my own office, over the next three years.

It will have a major impact on how we make our communities safer, so later in the summer I will be asking the people of Dorset about what matters to you and what you think should be included in the plan.

Please keep an eye on our website for more information about how you can make a contribution and have your voice heard.

But first, let me tell you more about some of my own priorities – and what I want to focus on to make Dorset safer.

Focus on cutting crime 

Number one on my list is for the police to robustly focus on cutting crime, from the violent crime – which is thankfully rarer here than in our big cities – to the constant grind of anti-social behaviour which blights communities and makes people’s lives miserable. I want people to see a clear difference and to feel safer.

I also want to bring back community-focused policing to the streets of Dorset. We should increase the number of officers across our neighbourhood teams and make them far more visible, so they play a role in preventing crimes against individuals and businesses. Members of our communities should know who their local officers are and should be able to contact them easily when needed.

We need to fight organised crime, particularly the county lines drugs gangs who have brought violence into some of our towns, but we also need to tackle hidden problems such as domestic abuse, child abuse, hate crime, modern slavery and cyber crime.

Dorset is a proudly rural county, and so we need to deal with those crimes which have a terrible impact on our farmers and people who live in small isolated villages, but which often take place away from the media spotlight.

I want to significantly increase the rural crime team and their capabilities, and I want to develop specific strategies to tackle problems affecting our rural communities such as burglary, anti-social behaviour and farm theft.

Putting victims first

But above all, we’ll put victims and communities at the heart of everything we do, because it is for these people that we need to bring about change. We need to support all our victims, particularly older and more vulnerable people, but we also need to help build up strong and resourceful communities. 

There’s also a huge resource of talented and passionate volunteers across our county – from Neighbourhood Watch and Community Speedwatch teams to our inspirational Police Cadets – and we need to do more to tap into that.    

Finally, we need to make sure every penny counts when it comes to police funding.

This is your money, which you pay through your council tax year in year out. We need to make sure we properly resource the front line and reduce unnecessary expenses so police teams can spend more time engaging with our communities, gathering intelligence and making people feel safer.

And if we get all that right, we’ll make our police crime fighters again, and Dorset will be well on the way to becoming the safest county in the UK.

For more information on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s work, visit the Dorset Police website.

Friendship, Respect and Difference: Stephen Lawrence Day

Stephen Lawrence Day was established in 2019 by the then Prime Minister Theresa May, on the 25th anniversary of Stephen’s death. It is a day dedicated to Stephen’s memory that also allows us to reflect upon the part we all play in creating a society in which everyone can flourish.

Members of Prejudice Free Dorset recognise that it is increasingly important that our Dorset communities are protected and people can live, work and visit free from discrimination and harassment.  

Stephen Lawrence was a black British teenager who was murdered in an unprovoked racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus in Eltham on the evening of 22 April 1993.

His death and the subsequent police investigation raised serious issues about police practice, highlighting institutional racism within the police, and wider attitudes in this country.

In the wake of Stephen’s murder, activists drove forward anti-racism and equality reforms, changing the law, practice and attitudes. That is Stephen’s legacy.

We know there is further yet to go. Racial prejudice still exists in this country and everyday discrimination and harassment are still happening in our workplaces.

Baroness Lawrence, Stephen’s mother, wants Stephen Lawrence Day to be about hope – as we all work together to build a fair and civilised society, free from discrimination.

We must all continue to support all our colleagues and communities, through friendship, respect and understanding difference.

#CrimeNotCompliment aims to make public sexual harassment a crime

A newly launched campaign by Plan International UK and Our Streets Now, titled #CrimeNotCompliment, aims to make public sexual harassment a crime – by requesting the government to change the law surrounding it.

Public sexual harassment is a serious public safety issue:

  • 51% of girls in the UK have experienced public sexual harassment since June 2020
  • 94% of girls in the UK think that harassment should be illegal
  • 80% of parents in the UK worry their daughter will experience public sexual harassment during her lifetime.

The Government has announced that they are reopening the consultation on violence against women and girls (deadline 26th March).

We are therefore encouraging everyone to fill in the consultation and ask the government to include making public sexual harassment a crime as part of their strategy.

To help support the campaign, fill in the survey here and for an extra push, please email your MP to ask for their support of the campaign.

You can also express your support by sharing this information, signing up for campaign updates (handraiser) or by visiting Plan International UK’s activism webpage.

For more tips on how to complete the survey, please visit the guide produced by Our Streets Now.

Violence against women: A statement from PFD

By Superintendent Gavin Dudfield, Chair of Prejudice Free Dorset

Today, at our quarterly Prejudice Free Dorset meeting ,we discussed violence against women and girls.

What is clear from the meeting – and from the large amount of media coverage – is that all PFD members want everyone to feel safe in our society. People should not have to act differently or consider extra safeguarding precautions because of their gender.

Members of PFD will be working with Community Safety Partnerships and support networks to secure funding for local initiatives, whilst developing longer-term strategies to ensure Dorset is a safe and prejudice free place to live, work and visit.

As Chair of PFD, I wanted to confirm that agencies and services are here to help prevent and respond to concerns.

We have members who advise on government policy, members who work in local government, members who have access to funding opportunities. Members who provide acute support series and members – like the Police and CPS – who investigate criminal offences and seek to bring offenders to justice.

I would also like to share that the government is asking for evidence of lived experience of violence against women and girls (VAWG) – you can find out more via this link.

Out of Court Disposal: A one-stop guide to OoCD and Scrutiny Panels in Dorset

At PFD’s ‘No Place for Hate’ conference, some of you expressed your interest in more guidance around the purpose and responsibility of Out of Court Disposal (OoCD) Scrutiny Panels in Dorset.

We’ve compiled a number of frequently asked questions. If you have any further questions, please let us know in the comments and we will continue to extend this post.

What is Out of Court Disposal (OoCD)?

OoCD is used in cases of less serious, and often first-time, offenders as an alternative to going to court. It can only be used in limited circumstances and when the suspect takes responsibility for the alleged offence.

What are the methods for dealing with suspects who are seen by OoCD?

Methods for dealing with suspects in this way include restorative justice, community resolutions, conditional cautions, cannabis warnings, penalty notices and fines, together with appropriate interventions.

Why are OoCD Scrutiny Panels needed?

OoCDs are administered without the involvement of the courts and so the public expects that the police, who in such cases act as ‘investigators, prosecutors, judge and jury’, have some checks and balances in exercising these powers.

For this reason, the Police and Crime Commissioner has adopted an OoCD Scrutiny Panel so Dorset residents can be assured that the police are making appropriate and proportionate use of this tool.

The Out of Court Disposal Scrutiny Panel oversees how Dorset Police and the Youth Offending Service issue out of court disposals and ensures that the use of such disposals is appropriate, proportionate and consistent with national and local policy and considers the victims’ wishes where appropriate.

What does the OoCD Scrutiny Panel do?

The Scrutiny Panel reviews a random selection of cases – with the panel determining whether each instance was appropriate and consistent with Dorset Police policies, the Crown Prosecution Service Code for Crown Prosecutors and the Victim Code. Feedback and recommendations are passed on to the Force for action and consideration.

How often does the panel meet and what do they discuss?

In 2019, the panel met on four occasions on 6 March, 19 June, 4 September and 18 December 2019 to review and consider 65 cases in total.

The cases discussed were on the following broad themes:

  • Burglary, theft and shoplifting cases
  • Weapon offences, violence against the person, knife crime and violence linked to weapon possession
  • Females and Black, Asian, Minority & Ethnic individuals.

The scrutiny panel has a standing agenda which covers the following areas:

  • Introductions, conflicts of interest and confidentiality
  • Minutes from previous meetings (approved between meetings to save time at main meeting)
  • Review of actions from previous meeting/s and updates
  • Review of effectiveness (from Dorset Police, if any previous recipients of previous Out of Court Disposals have re-offended)
  • Performance update
  • Cases for discussion (previously 20 cases, reduced to 15)
  • Any other business (including selection of theme for the next meeting).
Who are the members of the OoCD Scrutiny Panel?

The Scrutiny Panel comprises members of the public and experts from other agencies. The panel has a core of some 15 regular attendees at panel meetings.

These include five independent members, representatives from Dorset Bench including Dorset Youth Panel, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service, the Crown Prosecution Service, Probation Services, local Youth Offending Services who regularly attend the scheduled meetings which are held four times a year.

The panel is supported by members of Dorset Police including the Adult Out of Court Disposals Manager, Youth Out of Court Disposals Manager and a representative from Restorative Justice.

The panel also invites a representative from a different charity relevant to the theme of cases being considered; these include those with specialist knowledge in areas such as victim support, domestic violence, stalking, drugs and alcohol and sexual offences.

If you want to find out more about the independent panel members, visit page 1 of the OoCD Scrutiny Panel annual report here.

What about confidentiality?

At the start of each meeting, all those in attendance declare any conflicts of interest. All members have signed a confidentiality agreement which incorporates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.

Confidential meeting papers (e.g. case summaries and performance data) are sent securely to panel members and collected after each meeting for safe disposal.

Where can I find out more about the activities of the OoCD Scrutiny Panel?

To ensure transparency and accountability, a summary of each panel meeting is published together with a full annual report on the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner’s website – this is also open to members of the public to view.