Over the next six months Thames Valley Police will be targeting hotspots across the force area to tackle knife crime and serious violence, with neighbourhood officers supported by additional specialist officers.
The force is also the first in the country to trial a new mobile phone app to target the patrolling of specialist officers to identified violence hotspots.
The Home Office has allocated £860,000 to the Thames Valley area, part of a £24m Serious Violence “Grip” fund made available to the 18 police force areas with the highest levels of violent crime. The funding is provided to increase the use of “Hotspot Policing” tactics, using frequent, short high visibility patrols in focused areas where crime takes place.
The Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit has undertaken detailed analysis of where crime associated with violence takes place, using new mapping technology to identify around 40 specific hotspots. The majority are in urban areas, in particular locations – certain streets, near bars, pubs, shops or institutions like schools or hospitals.
The additional Grip funding is available to local policing teams to plan operations on top of their day-to-day activity. They will deliver an increase in high visibility patrols and targeted operations against known offenders and to act upon intelligence.
The funding will also support increased deployments from specialist officers, bringing additional capacity and skills to local policing operations. This will include Roads Policing officers, with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, highly-visible mounted section, dog units and Armed Response Vehicle officers. These specialist officers are the force’s more flexible resource, available to be tasked to areas of priority across the force area.
They will be the first officers in the country to use a new mobile phone app developed by the Violence Reduction Unit. The app pushes mapping and briefings, telling them which hotspots to patrol. It records time spent in the area and allows paper-less recording of activity. If successful, the app may be rolled out across the force.
Matthew Barber, the Police & Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, said:
“Overall knife-enabled crime is down by over 11 percent year-on-year across the Thames Valley, thanks to the hard work of our police, partners and with the support of local communities.
“However, it remains a priority for me that we take strong action against violent offenders, with a focus upon those who carry knives, whether to use in crime or from some mis-guided belief that it gives some sort of protection.”
Chief Inspector Chris Young, of Thames Valley Police and the Violence Reduction Unit, said:
“Over the coming months, officers will be planning and delivering operations using the full range of policing resources to make frequent, high visibility patrols in those hotspot areas and targeting known offenders and those vulnerable to violence and exploitation.
“We are using the latest technology to support our force roamers – those specialist officers who we can move across the force, bringing additional capacity and skills to bear in an area when needed.
“But tackling violence isn’t just for the police, our partners work with us to address the wider causes and we also need the help of our communities, reporting crime and passing on information and any concerns about those who may carry a weapon.”