Tonight, as part of our full Wokingham Borough Council meeting, I watched a presentation from John Campbell, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police and Felicity Parker, Borough Area Commander – Thames Valley Police.

Among a comprehensive and interesting report some very interesting facts and stats were shared.

As a result of increased patrols there as been a 13% increase in arrests year on year, as well as a 58% increase in stop and search outcomes. There has also been a 24% year on year increase in detections (i.e. crimes resolved).

Thames Valley recorded 1855 Covid related crimes, 73 of which were in Wokingham. Since the start of the Pandemic 37,818 Covid related incidents were reported, of which 11,887 were attended. 539 of these were in Wokingham. 870 fixed penalty notices have been issued, 8 were in Wokingham Borough.

There has also been great news in terms of new officer recruitment. Thames Valley Police numbers have increased from 3824 in March 2019 to 4071 in July 2020, with a predicted number of 4103 by March 2021. There are currently 17 more officers covering Wokingham and Bracknell.

There has been a 56% reduction in reported burglaries within Wokingham Borough, along with a 12% drop in incidents of Anti-Social Behaviour. This is coupled to a 33% reduction in Personal Robbery and a 22% reduction in shoplifting. It was acknowledged that the COVID pandemic will have impacted these figures.

Cllr Jorgensen asked a specific question about Anti-Social Behaviour. She was told that ASB remains a priority for Thames Valley Police and for the officers dedicated to their communities. With the additional officers now on the beat there is more capacity available to help combat this issue, as will the focus on breaking apart those that sell and use recreational and habitual drugs. The plea from Thames Valley Police was, if you see ASB then report it. You can report it online if you don’t want to go via calling 101. The website address is http://www.thamesvalley.police.uk

On the subject of drugs, following the serving of four drugs warrants in September 2020, two cannabis factories have been uncovered and closed. Since January, 10 drug, firearms and robbery warrants have been served.

I was also given the opportunity to ask a question of the Chief Constable. I asked him about incidences of drug use across the borough, particularly incidences of recreational drug use and solvent abuse.

Firstly I was informed that drug arrests have increased year on year, from 95 to 105. Secondly, I was reminded that everyone that takes drugs, be it addictively or recreationally, they share the responsibility for the cross county drug trade and the levels of crime that go with it. Finally, I was reminded by the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, that Thames Valley operates a very successful Drug Diversion Scheme.

I was also very pleased to here that a top priority for Thames Valley Police is in combatting domestic abuse. This is often a very under reported crime, and also one can be hard to identify and harder to get to prosecution on.

On behalf of myself and our residents I took the opportunity to thank the Chief Constable, Borough Commander, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner and all their officers for their diligence and duty on our behalf.

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