MyLocalNews spoke to Thames Valley Police (TVP) Chief Constable John Campbell about his upcoming priorities for the force, the biggest issues in policing across Buckinghamshire and how officers are tackling residents’ concerns in Chalfont, Amersham and Gerrards Cross.
John Campbell has been a police officer for more than 30 years and has been Chief Constable of TVP since April 1, 2019.
What are your reflections looking back on Thames Valley Policing in 2021-22?
Chief Constable John Campbell said: “2021-22 was an interesting time for policing, we came out of the pandemic but for much of the year we were still under regulation. Policing faced the challenge of our normal work whilst dealing with a local and concerned community. Now, the world has woken up and people returning to normal activity and that brings about a new workload for policing.”
What are your priorities looking ahead for 2022-23?
“Our role is around enforcement and focusing on reducing crime and offending. If a crime does occur, then the focus is getting justice for victims.
“Violence against women and girls is a priority moving forward, and crimes that are more predominantly focused on women. We are working in partnership with others around public place safety.
“Another priority is continuing to reduce knife crime. Serious knife crime is down but we have had some tragic incidents of homicides that have been reported regionally.
“Also, making sure we have satisfaction and trust in the community and being aware of the impact of others’ behaviour on our force.
“We are a very connected society, when something happens elsewhere, people think about the impact this has on local policing.
“We recently had a HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), they said they felt we had an ethical and inclusive culture. They also said some of our powers used such as stop and search was used appropriately and fairly.
“We have more female senior officers in TVP than ever before -across the organisation, there are almost 50 per cent women and 50 per cent of our new recruits are women.
“Saying this, there is no complacency in TVP, we will route out any members of staff who don’t live up to our standards of equality.”
What are the key issues you are focusing on in Buckinghamshire?
“Violent crime and violence against women and girls, working closely with the local authority In partnerships,
“We have seen reductions in burglaries and robberies, and this is something we continue to work on in terms of patrol strategies and investigation work.
“Operation Vigilant is used in various operations across the force, where plain-clothes officers in town centres target people who stand out as displaying signs of harassment or predatory behaviour.
“This targets the perpetrator and focuses on the night-time economy; we have done a number of stock checks and on occasions made arrests.
“Thames Valley Police have taken part in the national knife amnesty, Operation Sceptre – a combination of education, speaking to young people about the dangers of carrying knives and enforcement activity and intelligence lead patrols in the community, including in Buckinghamshire.”
What are Thames Valley Police doing to tackle car crimes in Buckinghamshire?
“Locally, we have seen a bit of a spike in catalytic concert thefts. This is because when the price of precious metals goes up, catalytic converts are more valuable, in response this is something being included in our patrols.”
How have police responded to local reports of pony and trap racing?
“Pony and trap racing is an issue along the A413, there was a particular spike on the May bank holiday, we have worked with RCPCA and local teams and we know its something that is of concern to the public.
Depending on how the traps are used, riding a pony and trap along the road isn’t an offence in itself. Unless someone is breaking the law we tend not to get involved, but it’s a practice some people don’t warm to.”
How are Thames Valley Police approaching the national issue of county lines operations, what are the police doing to protect young people in the area?
“Over the last year we have had some successes, across Thames Valley we have halved county drugs lines and tackled county lines in Buckinghamshire specifically.
“It is important to note that we have local drug supply as well. If it wasn’t for the fact people are buying the stuff we wouldn’t have the drug market.
“Some have a real problem with addiction to drugs, but there is a proportion, and not an insignificant proportion, who are ‘recreational drugs users’ who are also driving the drug market. These people are ultimately part of the country line drugs market and the violence associated with it.”
What are the biggest concerns for Thames Valley Police in Chalfonts and Gerrards Cross/Amersham (delete as appropriate)
“You have a mixture of what is important from a professional point of view, the bigger priorities like violence against women and girls and tackling county drugs lines.
“We also have to respond to local priorities like the theft of motor vehicles, speeding enforcement and antisocial behaviour.
“We have seen a reduction in antisocial behaviour in young people, but as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, there will be an increase in young people hanging around outside. The balance for us is whether it’s a crime they are committing or just being a nuisance.
“The Local Neighbourhood Teams are excellent at listening to residents’ feedback and focusing on issues in the community.”