Panel endorses Police precept proposal

A proposal to increase the precept payable for policing in Merseyside was “reluctantly” endorsed by the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel at their meeting on Tuesday 6th February.

The panel, which is made up of councillors from all Merseyside local authorities, has a statutory obligation to review the Commissioner’s Police Precept Proposal each year.

Having considered the evidence presented by the Commissioner, the Deputy Chief Constable and their support staff, the panel reluctantly agreed unanimously to endorse the Commissioner’s proposal for a 7.23% increase in the precept. However, in doing so, the panel asked that a number of recommendations/ comments be placed on record and brought to the Commissioner’s attention.

Cllr Carla Thomas, Chairperson of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel, said:

“We endorsed this rise extremely reluctantly, because we recognise that the only alternative would be for resources within Merseyside Police to be reduced even further . This would have an extremely detrimental impact on the level of service being provided to the community.

“The panel very much felt that the Commissioner was left with no alternative but to request this increase, due to the woeful shortfalls in Government funding for the police.

“However we were also in unanimous agreement that, whilst this rise does represent the only option currently available to prevent further reduction in officer numbers, it highlights how inequitable the current system is. By relying on council tax precepts to plug gaps in funding for policing, those who struggle already with their monthly outgoings – of which their Council Tax bill is a significant part – are hit the hardest.

“In reluctantly endorsing this increase we’d also urge the Government to urgently reconsider their approach to police funding and how shortfalls are impacting on both service provision and on the wallets of those least able to afford to pay.”

 You can read the Police and Crime Panel’s formal response here.

Help available to Loan Shark Victims who have been bitten over Festive period

January is traditionally known as the ‘blue month’ or the ‘money hangover’ as people are often strapped for cash after splurging big amounts on Christmas.

January is also the time of year where loan sharks start to bite and chase victims for the first repayment on a Christmas loan. Due to people being short of money, some borrowers might fail to meet the first settlement and receive threats from the lender. This is when a loan shark’s true colours and motive begin to show.

The Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) – a national team that investigate and prosecute loan sharks – are here to help victims who have fallen into deep waters with a loan shark during the festive season.

The team – who run a 24hour hotline all year round – are made up of Investigators and support officers who meet with victims on a daily basis and build up prosecution files to stop loan sharks in their deceiving tracks.

Victims who have been bitten over the festive period or who are currently being put through a miserable time because of a loan shark are being urged to contact the IMLT to report what’s happening.

The team will take information anonymously and in confidence; you don’t have to give your name and an officer will go through your options first before taking the report.

Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner, Cllr Emily Spurrell, said: “Christmas is an expensive time and it can be tempting to access cash quickly from a loan shark to purchase those all-important presents.

“But what starts out as a small loan can quickly escalate into something much more serious. January is a time when borrowers may find themselves trapped by spiralling debt and facing intimidation, threats and even violence.

“Loan sharks are unscrupulous criminals who prey on vulnerable victims, causing untold misery.

“But borrowers do not have to live in fear, there is help and support available. If you do find yourself a victim of a loan shark then do not suffer in silence – speak out by contacting Merseyside Police on 101 or, if it is an emergency, 999 or get in touch with the Illegal Money Lending team 24 hour hotline on 0300 555 2222.”

What is a loan shark?

A loan shark is someone who lends money without the correct authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It is a criminal offence to lend money without authorisation and can lead to a 2-year prison sentence and/or £5,000 fine.

How do I know if I’ve borrowed from a loan shark?

Loan sharks typically start off friendly and are often heard of through word of mouth. It could be a friend, colleague, neighbour or someone who is well known in the community for helping others out financially.

If you have had a cash loan and can answer yes to one or more of these questions, you might have borrowed from a loan shark:

  • Did they not give you paperwork?
  • Did they add huge amounts of interest or APR to your loan?
  • Have they threatened you?
  • Are you scared of people finding out?
  • Have they taken your bank card, benefit card, passport, watch or other valuables from you?

The IMLT will be with you every step of the way from the moment you make the call. You will receive one-to-one support; this might be help with housing, debt issues or referrals for health problems.

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “January is a difficult month for some people. It can be even more of a glum time for loan shark victims as lenders start chasing them for the first repayment on their Christmas loan. We want to reassure victims that they have not broken the law and help and support is available. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a loan shark during the festive period, please call us on 0300 555 2222 or visit www.stoploansharks.uk.”

To check if a money lender is licensed, borrowers can also search the Financial Services Register: https://register.fca.org.uk/

New Year, New Challenge? Become a Volunteer!

Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner is inviting anyone looking for a new challenge for 2018 to consider becoming an independent custody visitor.

Cllr Emily Spurrell is looking to recruit more volunteers to be part of an important scheme which sees members of the community check on the welfare of people detained in police custody.

The Independent Custody Visiting programme was established following the investigation into the Brixton riots in 1981 and is now the responsibility of Police and Crime Commissioners to operate in their respective areas across the country.

The scheme sees volunteers undertake random, unannounced visits of police cells to check on the conditions and make sure those being held are being cared for appropriately.

There is currently a committed team of 23 volunteers who dedicate their time to the scheme, but the Deputy Commissioner is now looking to get up to 10 more people involved.

The volunteers visit the region’s custody suites in pairs, at varied times of the night and day, throughout the year. Once on site, they check on the welfare of those detained and the conditions within the suite and produce a report for the Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, and her Deputy. They can then raise any issues directly with Merseyside Police.

Emily said: “Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) carry out an important public duty which provides reassurance to the public, the police and to me that we are detaining men and women here on Merseyside properly and caring for them appropriately.

“Detainees are potentially vulnerable and visits by our ICV volunteers are a key protection for them and a vital part of our criminal justice system, ensuring their legal entitlements and rights are respected.

“This is an interesting and rewarding role where volunteers can make a real difference within their community and get an insight into how our police system operates. By volunteering for this scheme, people can play their part in promoting the highest standards of policing. This is a fantastic opportunity for people who are looking for a new challenge for the New Year.”

The ICV scheme in Merseyside has been in operation since April 1984, when 20 members of the public were trained as visitors.

Last year, Merseyside’s ICV volunteers made a total of 265 impromptu trips to custody suites in the region, offering to see more than 2,300 detainees.

ICVs must have good observational and thinking skills, strong ethical principles and be able to maintain confidentiality. They should also be comfortable challenging authority if required. Ideally the volunteers will also come from a range of backgrounds, ages and experience.

Volunteers must be over 18 years old and live or work in the Merseyside area. Full training will be given. It is expected that volunteers make one visit a month.

How can I apply?

If you would like to apply to be an ICV, please complete the application form and equality and diversity monitoring form below and forward to the OPCC via email or post at the contact details below by Friday 2nd February 2018:

Application Form

Equality and Diversity Monitoring Form

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside,
Allerton Police Station,
Rose Lane,
Liverpool,
L18 6JE

Tel: 0151 777 5155

Email: OPCC.ICV@merseyside.pnn.police.uk

For more information, please refer to the recruitment pack below:

Recruitment Pack

You can also find out more about the ICV scheme here. If you any have any other queries, do not hesitate to get in contact with the OPCC on the email address or telephone number provided.

Merseyside Police introduce ‘The Herbert Protocol’ for missing or vulnerable people.

Merseyside Police would like to introduce you to The Herbert Protocol – an initiative named after George Herbert – a War veteran of the Normandy landings – who lived with dementia.

‘We appreciate that caring for people with dementia is challenging – and that planning ahead and keeping safe is really important.  More than 60% of people living with dementia can at some point start to “walk about”.  Whilst this may only be into the garden or street and returning a short time later, people can get lost and go missing; leading to feelings of confusion, fear and vulnerability – particularly at night time or at times of extreme weather.

As part of making reasonable life adjustments, we want to help by putting a system in place that will help to give the emergency services the best possible information should there be a need for them to become involved in a search for someone with dementia.

Don’t trick or mistreat during Halloween and Bonfire night!

Merseyside Police is encouraging young people, families and businesses to play their part in helping to keep their communities safe over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period.

Officers will be patrolling local neighbourhoods to ensure people can enjoy the festivities in their area safely but Merseyside Police cannot do this alone.

Sefton’s ‘Stop Loan Leeches’ Information Videos

Short information film warning that illegal lenders (loan sharks – known as ‘loan leeches’ in different cultures) target migrant workers.

Made for Sefton Council and the England Illegal Money Lending Team. Created and produced in close collaboration with the Migrant Workers Sefton Community charity.

Available in English, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian and Russian language versions.

English:            https://vimeo.com/161895506

Latvian:             https://vimeo.com/161907310

Russian:           https://vimeo.com/161915005

Polish:              https://vimeo.com/161986280

Romanian:        https://vimeo.com/162492897

Lithuanian:        https://vimeo.com/162492896

 

 

Merseyside PCC urges Government to listen to public concerns on police cuts

Politicians across the North West of England have come together to call on the Government to reverse years of policing austerity in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester joined Police and Crime Commissioners for Merseyside, Lancashire and Cheshire in writing to the Home Secretary to ensure that the public’s concerns about police cuts are top of the Government’s agenda. Citing recent attacks and the erosion of neighbourhood policing that provides vital community intelligence they said,

“As Home Secretary you have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that police forces across the country are properly resourced so they can keep people safe and tackle crime. We are asking that you ensure that this is a priority for the Government by making a clear commitment to reverse austerity in policing in this year’s Queen’s Speech.”

Across the four forces more than £385 million in savings have had to be found since 2010 with a further estimated £90m to be found by 2020. This has meant a reduction of more than 4,000 police officers and 1,500 fewer police staff across the region.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “I have lobbied central government for more funding for our police service for years. It is has now got to the point that Chief Constables and senior policing leaders can no longer stay silent and are speaking out.

“The need is real. It is time ministers listened.

“The thin blue line is stretched like never before and further cuts are damaging all frontline services. The government needs to stop these cuts and, instead, consider how to invest in the service which works so hard to keep us all safe, all of the time.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “We urgently need a wholesale review of police funding in the light of the changing times we are living in. Our police forces have absorbed the brunt of cuts as best they can since 2010, but more savings still need to be found and officer numbers are tumbling. As we see the terrorist threat at its highest ever level, and an increase in violent crime, our thin blue line has become dangerously overstretched.

“In Greater Manchester alone we have 2,000 fewer police officers patrolling our streets. This level of pressure cannot be sustained and, without a doubt, Greater Manchester Police needs more officers. Our Chief Constable Ian Hopkins has said that officer numbers are currently at the low end of reasonable, which to me means borderline unreasonable.

“The tragic events of recent months have highlighted just how important the police service is to the safety of our people, and this is an area that cannot simply be pruned back beyond recognition. But even prior to these terror attacks, policing was struggling to cope with the day-to-day demands placed on it. The Government must act now and reverse the cuts before our police service becomes unviable.”

Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner said, “I hear from people and officers across Lancashire about their concerns about the resources available to the police to do their job and keep communities safe.

“The Government need to listen to these concerns and commit to reversing austerity in policing in the Queen’s Speech this week.

“Despite promises from Ministers around ‘protecting’ budgets Lancashire receives less money every year from the Government to deliver a policing service. My message to the Home Secretary is that this needs to change and we need to start re-investing in policing, not cutting our budgets further.”

In Merseyside, savings of £84 million have had to be found since 2010 with more than £18 million additional savings estimated to be needed by 2021/22. This has already meant a reduction of more than 1,000 officers in seven years.

To read the full letter Click here.

Merseyside Police Commissioner joins LCR Combined Authority

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has joined the region’s Combined Authority to provide expertise on criminal justice.

Jane Kennedy has joined Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s team as a co-opted member to provide strategic support over the next three years.

A raft of Mayoral advisers will also join the authority, which consists of  the Metro Mayor, the six Local Authority leaders, the Chair of the City Region LEP and the Chair of Merseytravel.

Metro Mayor Rotheram has appointed an initial group of advisers to support his administration on areas including; Higher Education, Voluntary and Community sector, Natural Environment, Social Housing Growth, Homelessness, Mental Health and the Visitor Economy.

The appointment of Mayoral advisers is about utilising independent strategic advice from talent across the Liverpool City Region who will support the bold programme and vision of the Metro Mayor.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “I am delighted that the Combined Authority has unanimously agreed to co-opt Jane Kennedy. The Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner will provide a strong voice for the criminal justice system within the current structure – a logical extension of her current responsibilities which includes serving as Chair of the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board and the Merseyside Community Safety Partnership.

“I am also thrilled that such a talented group of individuals have agreed to work with me to help broaden the scope of the devolution deal and implement the convening powers of office. The role of the advisers is about utilising experts from right across Merseyside and Halton who are doing pioneering work in their fields to improve business opportunities and the lives of ordinary people.”

Commenting on her appointment to the Combined Authority, Jane Kennedy said: “I welcomed the invitation from Steve Rotheram for me to join the Combined Authority as a co-opted member. It demonstrates his intention to broaden the membership and expertise of the Board.

“I will do my best to assist the on-going development of the regional structure, whilst working closely with my colleague David Keane, Cheshire PCC, to ensure the interests of all the people of the city region are represented with regard to policing, victim support and criminal justice matters.

“I look forward to working with Steve and his colleagues on the cabinet to drive public service reforms for the benefit of people across the region.”

Speaking about supporting the Metro Mayor as an adviser, Luciana Berger MP said: “I look forward to championing mental health across the Liverpool City Region as one of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s new advisers. It is a huge task and one that I am delighted to have been asked to push forward.”

Mayoral Advisers

Janet Beer – Higher Education

Professor Janet Beer took up post as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool in 2015 after 7 years as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University. Professor Beer is Chair of the Board of the Equality Challenge Unit. She is also a Board member of UCAS and a Trustee of the British Council.

Kate Farrell – Homelessness

Kate Farrell is Director of Crisis Skylight Merseyside – a homeless organisation that supports thousands of people each year.

Rev Canon Dr Ellen Loudon – Voluntary and Community Sector

Rev Canon Dr Ellen Loudon is Canon Chancellor at the Liverpool Cathedral. Dr Louden was appointed the Director of Social Justice for the Diocese of Liverpool and is currently the Area Dean and Vicar at St Luke’s Walton.

Gideon Ben-Tovim OBE – Natural Environment

Gideon Ben-Tovim OBE is Chair of the Innovation Agency, having previously served as Chair of the Liverpool NHS Primary Care Trust and Chair of NHS Merseyside. He is also Chair of Nature Connected, the Liverpool City Region Local Nature Partnership.

Barbara Spicer – Social Housing Growth

Barbara Spicer CBE is Chief Executive of the Plus Dane Group. Ms Spicer is a Commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and was formerly Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency.

Luciana Berger – Mental Health

Luciana Berger has been the Labour Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree since 2010. She has also served as a Shadow Minister for Mental Health.

Sarah Wilde McKeown – Visitor Economy

Sarah Wilde McKeown is the chair of the Liverpool City Region’s Visitor Economy Board and a trustee of the Royal Court Theatre Trust. She is also the Managing Director of Liverpool Public Relations agency Influential.

Voluntary Sector Grants from Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS)

Where other departments have unwisely chosen to scrap grant programmes, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) have continued theirs and recently announced four new funds. They opened the funds on 11th May and the closing date for applications is 8th June. All applications must be submitted through Bravo Solutions, which is an online ‘sourcing portal’ that allows you to submit your bids to deliver the work.

All four grants are designed to encourage voluntary organisations ‘to pilot, develop and test to provide a proof of concept’ in different areas. In this round the funds are looking at violence amongst young black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in prison as well as resettlement for BAME people back into the community, services for people with learning disabilities and autism, and better understanding the needs of people with Acquired Brain Injury or Traumatic Brain Injury.

More information on each fund can be found below.

  • £153,000 to develop a whole prison approach to working with young, violent offenders, particularly those from a BAME background – link to Contracts Finder
  • £70,000 to improve services for offenders with learning disabilities and autism, and to provide access to expert advice to support sentence planning to improve outcomes – link to Contracts Finder
  • £203,000 – understanding and meeting the needs of individuals with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in English and Welsh male prisons and Welsh approved premises – link to Contracts Finder
  • £99,000 – reintegration support package for integration into the community for BAME offenders leaving custody after a long term prison sentence – link to Contracts Finder

Clinks will advertise these opportunities to our members and beyond because we believe that voluntary organisations have the creativity to respond to the challenges we face in our prisons and in our community services. We will also continue to advocate that HMPPS continue to grant fund the voluntary sector, and will advise on future grant funding rounds.

Clinks remains a supporter of the Grants for Good campaign hosted by the Directory for Social Change, a coalition of charities which believe in the huge value of government grant-making to the voluntary sector and which aims to protect it.

If you have any questions about the grant funding please email MoJCommercialReset@justice.gsi.gov.uk

International Restorative Justice Week

 

International Restorative Justice Week, 20th 27th November 2016, aims to promote the potential benefits and advantages of taking part in Restorative Justice or (RJ).

Restorative Justice allows everyone involved in an offence, whether offender or victim, to come together to deal with the aftermath of that offence and its future implications.  This can happen with a face-to-face meeting or with an exchange of letters or messages through a facilitator. If both parties are willing to meet and the person who committed the crime is willing to make amends for what they have done, then a trained facilitator will arrange a meeting.

Victims often want to understand why the crime has happened to them, and to be involved in what happens to the person who committed it.  They may want to be sure they will not be harmed by that person again, to ask them questions about the crime and to explain face-to-face just what effect the crime has had on their life.

The Restorative Justice Process gives the person who committed the crime the chance to understand the real consequences of their actions. They have the chance not just to say sorry and feel sorry but to do something positive to repair some of the harm that has been done.  This can help a person to build a new life free from crime, and would prevent further victims being created by their actions.

Research done on the effectiveness of Restorative Justice has shown that it is an extremely helpful process for both the perpetrators and the victims of crime, with 85% of victims saying they felt better about their situation after going through the process of Restorative Justice.  The work is done through a partnership of Probation, Police, Prisons, Victim Support and other agencies.

Here on Merseyside, the Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, works with the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), to offer RJ to victims across the region.

To find out more please visit the Merseyside CRC website or take a look at this leaflet which will explain more.

 

Plans for new Merseyside Police Headquarters unveiled

The PCC has today unveiled plans for a new headquarters for Mersey Police on a key gateway into Liverpool.

Following a year-long evaluation of all the options, Jane Kennedy’s preferred choice for the future of Merseyside Police headquarters is to develop a new purpose-built headquarters on a site on Scotland Road in Everton ward.

Even by conservative estimates, building a new headquarters will be £780,000 cheaper than refurbishing the existing police headquarters in Canning Place. A more efficient and environmentally-friendly new build headquarters will also be £380,000 a year cheaper to run and maintain, helping the organisation to save £15.5m compared to the cost of keeping Canning Place over the next 40 years.

The new headquarters will consist of a four-storey building with a single-storey annex, housing nearly 850 officers, PCSOs, and staff in largely open-plan offices, as well as providing meeting rooms, a lecture theatre and break-out spaces. It will be located on a predominantly brownfield site, largely owned by Liverpool City Council and bound by Scotland Road, St Anne Street and the approach road to the Queensway tunnel. It is also adjacent to the Force’s existing St Anne Street site.

Jane said: “It has been a complex and thorough process to get to the position where I can make this decision today. Extensive evaluations have been undertaken which confirm that building a new headquarters on Scotland Road is the most effective, efficient and economical way to ensure that Merseyside Police is able to tackle crime and protect our communities now and for years to come.”

Take a look at the full details here:
http://www.merseysidepcc.info/36/section.aspx/35/plans_for_new_merseyside_police_headquarters_unveiled

Schoolchildren Support Police Campaign To Clampdown On Scrambler Bikes

Schoolchildren in Sefton have given their support to Merseyside Police’s campaign to stamp out the antisocial use of off-road and scrambler bikes.

Primary schools in the Bootle, Seaforth and Litherland areas were selected to take part in workshops jointly run by neighbourhood police officers, anti-social behaviour unit staff from Sefton Council and Alder Hey hospital staff.

At the completion of the workshops Year 6 pupils were asked to design a poster on the theme of ‘anti scrambler bike use’.

The best ten posters were chosen by a panel of judges.

Funding for the project was obtained through the Chief Constable priority fund, community engagement fund and Sefton Council.

The 10 winners of the competition – who are from Bedford Primary School and Lander Road Primary School, both Bootle, and Rimrose Hope CE Primary school In Seaforth – will attend a presentation at Bootle Town Hall on Thursday 25 February – which will be attended by the Mayor of Sefton, local councillors, the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, former Everton FC players and representatives from Merseyside Police.

The prize for each of the 10 winners will be a PGL adventure weekend at Winmerleigh Hall in the forest of Bowland.

Neighbourhood inspector Ian Jones said: “The issue of scrambler bikes is one that that Merseyside Police takes very seriously and we will do everything we can to take them off the streets and find the people responsible for using them in an illegal, dangerous or antisocial way.

“Many riders don’t give a moment’s thought to the consequences of their actions and the misery they bring to decent law-abiding members of the community.

“We felt it was important that we engage with schoolchildren at a younger age to make them aware of the dangers of using off road bikes and the associated links with gangs.

“The posters they submitted for the competition are evidence that they feel very strongly about the issue.

“By involving partner agencies and the community we hope that we can get the message across and combat this problem.”

Councillor Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member Communities and Housing, said: “We were delighted to work in partnership with our many different agencies to tackle the problem which scrambling and anti-social behaviour can cause.

“This initiative enabled us to engage with young people before they could get involved with such anti-social behaviour and it got them thinking about the issues surrounding this.

“Congratulations to everyone involved as the project enabled many young people to use their time in a positive way.”

Deputy Police Commissioner Cllr Sue Murphy said: “I’m delighted to have been invited to present the awards to the winners of this competition and meet the young people who have been involved with Merseyside Police’s campaign.

“The Commissioner and I have heard repeatedly from people across Merseyside about the suffering and misery that the dangerous and illegal use of these bikes causes in our communities. That is why it is so important we engage with our young people from an early age and make them aware of the potential dangers and consequences of getting involved with anti-social use of bikes.

“It’s clear from the posters that the youngsters have created that they have really understood these messages and are keen to show their support. I congratulate the winners and all the young people who have taken part, as well as the officers and staff who have worked on this effective campaign.”

 

Standing against Female Genital Mutilation

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner and Merseyside Police have joined forces to pledge their support ahead of International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation this weekend.

The UN marks the international awareness-raising day every on February 6th with the aim of increasing understanding and awareness of this harmful practice which affects millions of women and girls worldwide.

Female Genital Mutilation or FGM, as it is commonly known, refers to all procedures which involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.  It is recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and is also sometimes referred to as female circumcision or cutting.

Globally, it is estimated that between 100 million to 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of genital mutilation. A further three million girls are thought to be at risk of mutilation each year. If current trends continue, 15 million additional girls between the ages of 15 and 19 will be subjected to it by 2030.

In the UK, it is estimated that 137,000 women have been affected by genital mutilation however, the true extent is unknown, due to the hidden nature of the crime.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: ““Female genital mutilation is a barbaric practice that has no place in today’s society.

“Raising awareness of the risks and signs of FGM within our communities and among key agencies and professionals is vital if we are to protect women and girls from harm.

“FGM is not only illegal, it is life-threatening, and it can leave its young victims in real agony with long-term physical and psychological problems.

“While FGM is a deeply sensitive subject, there are no cultural, religious or medical reasons that can ever justify a practice that causes so much suffering. We need everyone to understand FGM is child abuse, it’s illegal and it will not be tolerated.

“I would urge anyone who has been affected by FGM or knows someone who has to come forward confident in the knowledge they will be helped and supported.”

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Kameen from Merseyside Police’s specialist Protecting Vulnerable People Team said: “We are proud to be among many police forces throughout the UK that are supporting International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. This practice is largely perpetuated against children in secret and often without anaesthetic leaving the poor victim in absolute agony and is nothing short of child abuse.

“It is a global problem but one that also exists here in Merseyside, although the true scale is not yet known.

“It is important that we all start talking about FGM as an issue so that it is no longer a taboo amongst communities themselves or the agencies and charities that are there to help them. Frontline police officers and health professionals are now getting the training they need to recognise the signs of FGM taking place and what to do if someone reports it having happened to them or a friend.

“By understanding better what has happened to the victims of this terrible crime, we will be able to gather the evidence we need to bring to justice the people who carry it out.

“The force has officers who are specially trained to investigate offences robustly but also with sensitivity and I would encourage anyone who is a victim or has information to find the courage to come forward and speak to us.  People can call officers on 0151 777 4088 or the non-emergency 101 number.”

If you’re worried about FGM or have concerns about a child being or becoming a victim, you can also call the free 24-hour advice and support line run by the NSPCC on 0800 028 3550 or email fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

Listen to a survivor’s story here.

Find out more about FGM on the NSPCC website and the NHS Choices website

PCC visits custody suites to see first-hand the work of volunteers

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner joined the chair of her Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) scheme as he carried out a night-time visit to two police stations to check on the welfare of detainees this weekend.

Jane Kennedy accompanied volunteer ICV Advisor Reverend Peter Beaman as he carried out unannounced visits to the custody suites at St Anne Street and Birkenhead police stations on Friday night.

This was the second time the Commissioner has joined the ICVs to witness their work and meet the staff in the custody suites.

The Commissioner is responsible for the ICV scheme, which see volunteers make random visits to custody suites across Merseyside every week to check on the conditions and make sure those who are being kept in the cells are being treated with dignity and respect.

There are currently 33 dedicated volunteers on Merseyside’s ICV scheme and last year they carried out a total of 290 visits speaking to more than 1,850 detainees. Rev. Beaman has been involved in the scheme since 1985 and he invited the Commissioner to join him as he carried out the Friday night visit.

Jane said: “Our Independent Custody Visitors give up their free time to visit police stations at all times of the night and day so they can go and check on the welfare on those who are being kept in the cells.

“They carry out an important public duty which provides reassurance to those detainees, who are potentially vulnerable, as well as to the public, the police and to me.

“I was delighted to accompany Rev. Beaman, who has given more than 30 years dedicated service to this scheme, as he carried out one of his regular visits to both St Anne Street and Birkenhead custody suites during what is a peak time for the police.

“It was really interesting to see for myself the essential work our volunteers do and the interaction they have with both the custody sergeants and officers and those who are being kept in the cells.

“Knowing that Rev. Beaman and the other dedicated volunteers are carrying out these visits on a weekly basis gives me peace of mind and helps the public to know that those who are being detained are kept in safe and appropriate conditions and receiving care of the highest standard.”

The ICV scheme was established following the recommendations of Lord Scarman in 1981 after his investigation into the Brixton riots and first began to operate in Merseyside in April 1984, with 20 members of the public being trained as visitors.

Find out more about the scheme here.

‘Tackling Inequality in the Criminal Justice System’ – a new report from Clinks

Many equality and minority groups are overrepresented in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) and a large proportion of the people in the CJS face some form of discrimination or disadvantage because of being from
an equality and/or minority group.
‘Tackling Inequality in the Criminal Justice System’ summarises presentations given at a Clinks seminar by organisations working to tackle inequality in the CJS and highlights learning points for voluntary and statutory organisations.