Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner.  
Commissioner's Office: 01707 806100
Statement on Randox Testing Services
A criminal investigation involving several staff at Randox Testing Services is underway after the company found toxicology data had been compromised.

This investigation has an impact on a large number of police forces around the country, including Hertfordshire Constabulary.

David Lloyd, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire said:

“I have raised the issue with the Chief Constable who assures me the impact on Hertfordshire is currently limited to two cases and I will continue to monitor the situation.”

Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Chair, Dame Vera Baird QC said:

“Police and Crime Commissioners have been made aware of the issue relating to Randox Testing Services and I am sure that they will be raising their concerns with their Chief Constables if they have not already done so.

“At this stage we know that Greater Manchester Police are leading on a criminal investigation, which is supported by the Forensic Science Regulator, and I know that PCCs will continue to monitor the impact of these developments locally.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Forensic Science, Chief Constable Debbie Simpson said:

“We have been made aware of a quality failure with Randox Testing Services (RTS) which is currently being investigated and a criminal inquiry has been launched by Greater Manchester Police.

“Randox has provided each force with a list of cases that could have been effected. Working in partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), we have provided guidance to forces so they are able to review each case to determine if compromised data played a part in prosecution.

“While this investigation is ongoing, we are working with a number of forensic service providers and the Forensic Science Regulator to ensure that any requirement for forensic services is dealt with in the normal timeframes.”

Randox Testing Services Statement:

“Following an internal investigation in January 2017, Randox Testing Services uncovered evidence that suggested an amount of toxicology data had been compromised and immediately contacted the relevant authorities.

“This action led to a criminal investigation and two members of our Manchester laboratory staff were arrested for activities which were non-compliant with their legal responsibilities and our well-established practices and procedures. All further appropriate internal action is being carried out.

We take this breach of our stringent Quality Assurance systems very seriously and are working round the clock to address the issues that resulted from this investigation.

“Randox Testing Services will continue to work tirelessly to support the ongoing police investigation.”

Home Office statement:

“We are aware of a serious allegation regarding an individual employed at Randox Testing Services.

The matter relates to analysis of toxicology analytical data, and is currently being urgently investigated by the Forensic Science Regulator and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

“A criminal inquiry has also been launched by Greater Manchester Police and it would therefore not be appropriate to comment further.”

GMP statement:

“Greater Manchester Police have been asked to conduct a criminal investigation into forensic results issued by Randox Testing Services (RTS).

“Randox Testing Services have provided forensic services to police forces, including GMP, for the past two years. The organisation is being fully co-operative of the investigation.

“Two men, a 47 year-old and a 31 year-old, have been arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and released on bail until 6 March 2017 pending further enquiries.”

CPS spokesperson said:

“We are working with the Home Office, police and the Office of the Forensic Science Regulator to assess the impact of the testing failure at Randox Testing Services.

“This includes establishing which cases have been affected by this issue and working with other agencies to decide what action should be taken in relation to those cases.‎”

 

The National Police Chief’s Council has asked for all media enquiries to be directed to their press office:

 

Telephone: 020 3276 3803 during office hours.
Email:
press.office@npcc.pnn.police.uk

For urgent media queries out of office hours, please call the duty press officer on 07803 903686.

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1000 Films Submitted to Beacon Film Festival
With just under a week to go to the Beacon Film Festival, organisers are working hard to whittle down over a thousand short film submissions to just twenty films to be shown on the evening.

The films will be premiered at the Weston Auditorium at the University of Hertfordshire on Thursday the 23rd February.  The Beacon Victim Care Centre and Oaklands College, who are hosting the event, are delighted with the positive response they have received both locally and around the world.




Beacon is commissioned by Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, who said: “My Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan talks about victims being at the heart of the system, not criminals.

I am delighted to see that we got such a wide international entry. I think we need something that celebrates victims and allows them to take back their lives and that is what this festival is doing.”

BTEC Creative Media and Foundation Degree students from the college have also been tasked with creating films for the festival as part of their on-going course assessments.

Oliver Samuel, Lecturer and Filmmaker at Oakland’s College praised the students’ enthusiasm.

He said: “Being a victim of crime is something that a lot of people can relate to. The students’ inspiration comes from within, but they have to work inside a tight brief and to have creativity on demand like that is not always an easy thing to do.”

The aim of the evening is to share stories and short films from around the globe to raise awareness about the issues faced by victims of crime.
The event has been put together to support the 27th Annual European Victim Awareness Day.  It is just one of the activities that will feature as part of the Victims’ Rights Week, which takes place from the 20th to the 24th February.

The film festival will start at 6pm. Tickets are still available and are free.

Please register your interest by this link and further details will be sent.

More information about Victims’ Rights Week is available on the Commissioner’s website.
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Appeal for Survivors of So-Called 'Honour' Based Crimes
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire has commissioned pioneering research into so-called ‘honour based violence’ in the county to improve services.

Over the next month, the University of Roehampton and University of Essex will conduct the study to better understand the experiences of victims and survivors.

People will be asked about their experience of reporting crimes like FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), forced marriage and other abuses to the police or their reasons for not deciding to do so.

Victims coming forward are assured that strict confidentiality will be provided and special arrangements for interviews and any language requirements can be made.

So-called 'honour based violence’ – or HBV – is a collection of crimes which may have been committed in the belief of protecting or defending a family or community’s honour.

David Lloyd, the PCC for Hertfordshire, says these are appalling crimes.

“I dislike the term because there is no ‘honour’ in this kind of violence and it should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Because of the type of abuse, it’s often very difficult to identify victims and survivors and we need people to come forward and give us their experiences so we can improve our service for others.”

The responses to the survey will inform the commissioning of services from the Hertfordshire victim’s centre Beacon and contribute to the domestic abuse action plan.

Aisha K. Gill, Research Project Lead and Professor of Criminology at the University of Roehampton said:

“Victims and survivors of ‘so called’ HBV, forced marriage and FGM suffer life-changing or life threatening effects and effective support is essential in managing the trauma.

Victims and survivors are not always aware and confident of the support available and this can prevent them from coming forward. I therefore welcome this opportunity to work with Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner to solve this problem”.

The research team would like to hear views from victims and survivors and they can be shared by contacting Professor Aisha K. Gill on email - a.gill@roehampton.ac.uk - or by calling or texting 07825 972 263.

There are more details about the study here.


More details about so-called ‘honour’ based violence here.
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Herts Police Get Clean Bill of Health on Stop and Search Scheme
Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has welcomed a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which confirms Hertfordshire Constabulary is meeting the requirements of the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.

This national scheme was set up by the Home Office to answer complaints that stop and search powers were being used too often and without sufficient public scrutiny.  Hertfordshire was one of the first forces to sign up to the scheme and it has now been confirmed they are fully compliant with all aspects of it.

Commissioner David Lloyd said: “This is a significant coercive power and my Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan makes a commitment that it should be used properly in Hertfordshire.

I hold the Chief Constable to account for doing so and I have set up an independent scrutiny panel to provide regular public feedback.  I am pleased that HMIC has recognised the effectiveness of the work we are doing.”

 
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Minister Backs Close Relationship Between Police and Fire
David Lloyd, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, has welcomed the strong endorsement by the Minister for Policing and Fire of the case for closer emergency service working and actions he is taking to make sure the police and fire service are more closely aligned. 

In a speech on Tuesday, Brandon Lewis MP reminded PCCs and fire authorities of new legal duty to examine closer co-operation and how PCCs can have a bigger role in governance. 

In Hertfordshire, an outline business case for PCC control of the fire authority is being prepared and the options will be presented to David Lloyd.

The Commissioner, who attended today’s speech, says the direction of travel is clear:

“The Minister wants PCCs to look at the relationship between the fire and police services in their area, and that’s what I’m doing.

If the business case shows there could be significant benefits to having PCC oversight of both police and fire services then it’s something we must look at.”

Read the speech here.


Watch the speech here:

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Magistrates' Association Chief Joins PCC Team
David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, has appointed the head of the Magistrates’ Association as his new chief executive.

Chris Brace JP, who has also run a housing association and was campaigns director at the Royal Association of Disability Rights, will join the PCC’s office following the confirmation hearing of the Police and Crime Panel.

He replaces the previous chief executive Roy Wilsher, who will become chair of the National Fire Chief’s Council in April.  Roy is also the Chief Fire Officer for Hertfordshire.

David Lloyd said:

“Chris has held a number of senior positions and his focus on criminal justice makes him a perfect fit for the role of Chief Executive.

Working to reform the criminal justice system in Hertfordshire is a key priority for my second term as Police and Crime Commissioner and Chris will play a central role in doing this.”

At the panel meeting, the Commissioner also paid tribute to Roy Wilsher’s work over the past 4 years.

“I’d like to thank Roy for the hard work he’s done in partnership working with other agencies and wish him well in the new role.”

The appointment of Chris Brace will be confirmed subject to references and other checks.

 
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Commissioner's Budget Approved
The Hertfordshire Police and Crime Panel has approved an increase to the police part of the council tax in order to protect local policing in the county.

The Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, proposed an increase equivalent to £5 a year for the average household* in order to keep local policing teams in place.

Lower than expected funding from government, an increase in costs relating to safeguarding vulnerable people and a delay to a collaborated IT project have led to the rise.

This is the first time the Commissioner has raised the police element of the council tax precept in his two terms of office.

Speaking after the meeting, David Lloyd said the small rise was necessary:

“I’ve always said I will not charge the residents of Hertfordshire a penny more than needed, and that remains the case.

Increased pressures on our teams combatting domestic abuse, the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults – combined with a drop in funding and delays to savings – mean we must make this difficult choice.

However, I’m pleased to say that local policing will receive the funding because time and again it is the thing residents tell me is most important to them.”

As part of the consultation, an open letter about the proposals was circulated to residents via the county’s OWL network, and interviews were held on local radio stations and in newspapers.

261 residents responded to the consultation, with 75% of those supporting the increase.

* The increase in council tax for each band property is as set out below:

 
  Band
  A B C D E F G H
                 
Precept 2016/17 £    98.00  £  114.33  £  130.67  £  147.00  £  179.67  £  212.33  £  245.00  £  294.00
                 
Proposed Precept 2017/18 £  101.33  £  118.22  £  135.11  £  152.00  £  185.78  £  219.56  £  253.33  £  304.00
                 
Annual Increase £       3.33  £       3.89  £       4.44  £       5.00  £       6.11  £       7.23  £       8.33  £    10.00
                 
Weekly Increase £       0.06  £       0.07  £       0.09  £       0.10  £       0.12  £       0.14  £       0.16  £       0.19
                 
 
The original press release and open letter to residents can be found here.
 
The full report on the budget to the Police and Crime Panel can be found here.

 
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Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan Passes Panel
The new Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan: Everybody’s Business 2017-2022, set out by the Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd, has been formally approved by the Police and Crime Panel.  

It is a duty on all PCCs to produce a Police and Crime Plan, though in Hertfordshire the name has been changed to Community Safety and Criminal Justice plan. This reflects the new emphasis and direction the Commissioner wants to take in the next 5 years.

Commissioner David Lloyd said: “I welcome the positive response I have received to the new edition of my Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan.

This new plan sets out the strategic direction for community safety and criminal justice across Hertfordshire and will be used by the Chief Constable, Charlie Hall, to help develop an Operational Policing Plan which will set out how he, along with many other partners, including our community safety partnerships, will deliver on the priorities set out in this plan.”

The Commissioner is required to consult with the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Panel on his strategies for policing, as well as the precept (the money collected from council tax for policing) and certain key appointments.

This follows 6 weeks of public consultation, where the plan was circulated to key stakeholders and partners for their views. This included the police, local authorities, health services, criminal justice agencies, the private and public sectors.

In total 1,100 residents and stakeholders responded to the consultation and detailed responses were received from all district and borough councils.
The new plan will be published and made available for the public to view on the Commissioner’s website from mid-February.

You can view the agenda to the panel, and the plan here:
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PCC statement on Chief Executive
Statement from David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire:

"I am pleased to announce that following the interviews held on Friday, I am proposing to appoint Chris Brace as our new Chief Executive. 

Chris is currently the Chief Executive of the Magistrates’ Association and before that held a number of senior roles in the public sector. 

He lives in St Albans and knows Hertfordshire well.  Chris will appear at the Police and Crime Panel this Thursday and, subject to references and other checks, I hope to be able to confirm his appointment shortly after that. I look forward to welcoming him in due course."

 
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Community Payback Pilot Scheme Rejuvenates Watford Housing Estate
A Community Payback Pilot project which was commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner in partnership with BeNCH CRC (the Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Community Rehabilitation Company) has successfully been completed at the residential housing area of Boundary Way in Watford.
 
Following a partner consultation earlier this year, the Police and Crime Commissioner asked the ten District and Borough Community Safety Managers (CSMs) of Hertfordshire to have their say in the areas they feel would benefit for unpaid work to be undertaken by offenders.
 
Three feasible projects from across Hertfordshire were selected following a short-listing process. Boundary Way was put forward by the Watford Community Housing Trust to have the estate’s railings revamped and painted black. The residential area is currently undergoing work to rejuvenate housing and attract new residents.
 
Community Payback is one of the priorities outlined in the Police and Crime Commissioner’s draft plan, “Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan: Everybody’s Business,” to put in place a system for offenders of low-level crimes to pay back in kind – where appropriate using their skills to provide meaningful payback.
 
Rehabilitation gives offenders an opportunity to recognise the harm that they have caused the community and provides learning opportunities for the future.
 
David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Community Payback has real value: not only does the public benefit from the unpaid work undertaken by offenders for the crimes they have committed, but it has a positive impact on offenders, often instilling a sense of structure and value that is often missing in their lives.”
 
“It gives the public and local businesses a direct say in determining the kinds of unpaid work offenders should do. I will continue to work with the Constabulary and partners, including Probation, Trading Standards and other local authority services, to help develop these plans and vision for how offenders can pay back their time in-kind.”
 
Ali Hancock, Director, BeNCH Community Rehabilitation Company said: “Our Community Payback scheme is all about making amends. It allows those who have offended to ‘pay back’ their local communities by being involved in projects just like this one. It has been great to see the improvements to the Boundary Way estate take shape and those working on the groups have been able to take real pride in their work.”
 
Dave Fayer, Chairman of the Boundary Way Community Group said: “The Boundary Way residents committee was really pleased that we were selected for improvement works on the railings around our estate. Many areas on the estate have fallen into poor condition over the last few years and any work to improve the visual feel of the estate is welcome."
 
For more information on how to put forward an area for the Community Payback Scheme - details are available on the BeNCH CRC website:
http://benchcrc.org.uk/what-we-do/community-payback/

 
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Sherma Batson MBE
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd, would like to send his condolences to the family and friends of Sherma Batson MBE, the Stevenage councillor, former mayor and member of the Police and Crime Panel who died on Sunday.

 “I’m deeply saddened to hear of Sherma’s death. She was a good friend and formidable colleague who was a passionate public servant and a valued member of our Police and Crime Panel.

 As a councillor she was respected and well-liked by her constituents who will miss her terribly.

 My thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues at the council at this difficult time.”
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Police and Crime Commissioner's Blog on Ten Districts in a Day Tour
Sometimes you forget just how big Hertfordshire is, but when you spend a day driving around it you soon realise its real size. I did just that recently, when I spent a day crossing the county visiting all 10 districts promoting my new Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan.  

We covered 150 miles and made 15 visits, mainly to key stakeholders and partners to discuss themes from the new plan which is currently in its consultation period until January 16th, 2017.

By law I have to produce a plan within the first year of being elected as PCC. This is the third version of the strategy, called “Everybody’s Business”. It’s named this, because I think we all have a responsibility to help keep our beautiful county safe, and I was pleased to meet so many people doing just that.
An early morning drive along misty roads took me to the village of Little Gaddesden in Dacorum, who’ve recently had a Speed Indication Device installed through the Road Safety Fund.

I had a chance after that to meet with the new Governor at the Mount Prison in Bovingdon. I want local people to have a greater say in how offenders are managed and I’m proposing local oversight of how rehabilitation works in Hertfordshire. A quick car journey through Watford into South Oxhey and I had a quick chat with one of the projects, called ‘ You Can,’  which help adults with complex needs – people who can often end up in contact with the police, but with the help of projects like this, can be given the support to transform their lives.

In a visit to Kingfisher Court, in Radlett which is run by the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT), I met the managing director, Sandra Brookes. The Trust provides mental health services in Hertfordshire and we work very closely with them around providing support for people in mental health crisis, to whom the police are often asked to respond. 

We have a proud record in Hertfordshire of not putting such people in police cells and Kingfisher Court provides a superb health-based facility where the appropriate care can be provided.  We are also working with the Trust on expanding street triage services across Hertfordshire where police and mental health professionals respond jointly to people in crisis.

I then travelled into St Albans and visited the local Fire Station. An important part of my Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan is to improve the ways in which blue light services work together so we can provide a better service to the public. I met fire fighters to discuss the work they are already doing to improve community safety and the opportunities we have for the future.

Staying in St Albans, I paid a brief visit to the Crown Court.  A major new focus of my second term in office will be on the criminal justice system and particularly how it can provide a better service to victims.  There are too many delays and inefficiencies at the moment and I want to encourage all the agencies involved to work more closely together to tackle some of the problems.

I visited the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, to speak about the partnership work we do there, particularly around restorative justice and then moved on to Welwyn Garden City to visit  Beacon, Hertfordshire’s victim care centre. While there I met staff who have been doing brilliant work in supporting many thousands of people since I launched this service 18 months ago.  I now want to build on the success of Beacon and expand the range of services it can provide.

My journey continued to Stevenage to visit BeNCH Community Rehabilitation Services (CRC) and the National Probation Service, to discuss ways of working more closely together to reduce re-offending. We need to make sure offenders get the right support and supervision so that they are not drawn back into criminal behaviour.

Another purpose of this engagement day was to highlight my commitment to protecting local policing, and I saw a great example of this in Hitchin when I met Chief Inspector Julie Wheatley at the local police station.  Julie is one of 10 Chief Inspectors running local policing teams in each borough and district in Hertfordshire. They are all committed to providing an excellent policing service in their local patch and because they are local, they can be accountable and visible to their local community for how they do it.

Next it was on to East Herts and a local business which is doing its part to promote community safety. Insurance brokers, Daines Kapp in Ware, have signed up to my Employer Supported Policing scheme which encourages people to join the Special Constabulary by ensuring they are given some additional paid leave each year to do policing duties.

I then found time for a meeting with local councillors in Hertford before moving on to see a further example of the success of our volunteering strategy in action when I met our local police Cadet group in Turnford.

My whirlwind tour concluded in Watford where I took a look at its thriving night time economy and some of the policing challenges it poses. It was a long day but a very rewarding one and a reminder not only of what a great place Hertfordshire is in which to live and work, but of the great people who are doing their bit to keep it that way.

My draft plan is now out for consultation and I want to know what your views are on it.  I urge you to have your say and share your comments through the online survey on the PCC website www.hertscommissioner/plan.  You can also send your comments to the.plan@herts.pnn.police.uk or by letter to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, 15 Vaughan Road, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 4GZ by 16th January 2017.

Finally, I would like to finish by wishing you and your families a very peaceful Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017.
 
 
 
 
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