Derbyshire police chief answers YOUR questions about travellers, terrorism and tech

This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.

Derbyshire people had their chance to interview the county’s police chief on Tuesday night, when he took to Facebook for a live question and answer session.

Peter Goodman, who took over as Derbyshire Constabulary’s chief constable in June, appeared on Facebook Live to answer questions during the 45-minute broadcast.

It was the first live question-and-answer session that Derbyshire police has run.

Q: What made you get into policing in the first place?

Chief Constable Peter Goodman opened the event

Chief Constable Peter Goodman

A: It’s an interesting question, because I’m sure people would expect that I’d respond by saying it was a life-long ambition to be a police officer. It was a vocational thing for me and it’s something I’d wanted to do since the age of four. Unfortunately, none of those things are true. I finished university, I went on a graduate entry scheme into a large commercial organisation and, frankly, hated every minute of it and left three months later without a clue what I was going to do.

While I was trying to figure that out, I worked for a builder as a labourer and spent four months carrying bricks and cement on a building site. I quite liked being outside – so, on the basis of that qualification, I made the decision that I wanted to use my education, I wanted to use my experience, but I wanted to work outside.

I couldn’t think of many more suitable jobs than joining the police, at least just a couple of years – because that’s all I was going to do it for – before I settled down into something more sensible. But I joined the police and, frankly, there was never going to be any career for me other than this once I’d made that decision.

Because of the variety, because of what we do is important, because we protect vulnerable people, because we arrest dangerous and violent people, because we make a massive difference in the community. I have to say, there hasn’t been a single day in those 29 years since I joined when I’ve regretted it.

Q: Given that policing has changed dramatically over the last few years, what does Mr Goodman see as the most challenging aspect of modern policing?

A: Policing has changed massively over the past few years, and the rate of change is multiplying year-on-year. Changes which we thought were revolutionary five years ago are quite pedestrian now and what we think is revolutionary now will become very pedestrian over the next three or four years.

I imagine, in two or three years’ time, we will be dealing with crime types and issues and offences we haven’t even thought of yet. As the internet grows and the digital medium becomes even more prevalent, as internationalism becomes more prevalent, there are likely to be many more things to be faced. The thing for me that’s really changed policing and is posing the biggest risk for us at the moment is cybercrime – it has changed the face of policing more than ever before.

Q: What is being done in Derby to tackle Islamophobia and other hate crimes?

A: We police by consent in this country and we police by consent here in Derbyshire. When I break that down, that means that we police with the consent of all the communities that we serve – whether they be black or white, irrespective of religion, gender, sexual preference, background, country of origin.

Read More

What's been happening in the courts?

To do that, we need the support of all of those communities. We recognise that there are key communities here in Derbyshire who are more vulnerable than others because of the characteristics of that community. I have to say the Islamic community is one of those. We know that they are nationally targeted because of their religion and we know that, locally, there are issues in relation to hate crime.

Dealing with hate crime is absolutely one of our top priorities – we are putting a large amount of resources to make sure that, firstly, the way that you can report that is as known, as accessible and as user-friendly as possible and, in the event that people do report, we will investigate hate crime to the nth degree. We have no tolerance for those who peddle hate in our community, and we will strain every sinew to make sure we bring those people to justice.

Q: Policing is non-existent now. We have a big police building in Buxton which is no longer used. Why can we not ring up our local station, instead of waiting minutes to talk to someone who has no idea who we are?

A: Buxton Police Station is under-utilised, largely because we’ve changed the style of policing that we have. Policing has changed hugely in the last 10 years and will continue to change - and we have had to respond to that. We no longer just deal with local issues on the streets – we now have to deal with crime in the digital medium, and the many new types of criminality as well.

So we need to police the streets of Buxton but we also need to police the streets of the internet. We’ve also been through a period of austerity. We are 25% smaller than we were nine years ago, and we’re having to make more cuts as we move forward. We have cut the number of police officers by more than 400, we’ve cut the number of staff by over 300, and that means we can’t deliver policing in exactly the same way as we have done before, we’ve had to do things differently. We are really cut to the bone in almost every area of policing.

Q: What are we going to do about the Black Mamba situation that exists in Chesterfield?

Packet of Black Mamba

A packet of Black Mamba

A: I’m not aware of a particular issue in Chesterfield, I am aware that there are some issues with some of our young people and drug-taking in the town centre. It’s not just a policing issue – we have responsibility to find out who is supplying it, and to arrest them and to make sure we place them before the court.

We have responsibility to try and divert some of those people who are using it away from that, but it has to be a partnership response from the voluntary sector, from the people of Chesterfield, from the district council and the county council, and other agencies.

Q: Is it not about time something was done about the CCTV in the city centre? I know it’s council-run, but surely it also has an effect on policing and crime within the city?

A: Any decisions about resourcing the CCTV or upgrading it is very much a community safety issue, which is led by the city council.

Q: Do you think PCSOs should be given more powers and/or CS gas to protect themselves?

A: I’ve recently had this debate with some local PCSOs who were very persuasive in their view. My natural position is that PCSOs’ prime responsibility is around visibility and engagement in local communities, so I’m loath to give them more powers which means that they may spend less time in those communities talking, being visible, consulting, understanding what the local issues are.

However, there is an argument to say that, sometimes, their confidence and credibility is undermined because people know that they don’t have many powers, so people are prepared to do things in front of them that they wouldn’t do in front of a police officer. My PCSOs in Derby want the power to detain people – and, if we’re going to give them that power, we would need to give them the necessary training and equipment to protect themselves.

We are going to talk to the communities in Pear Tree about the piloting of the use of extra powers of PCSOs – we’ll have that conversation, we’ll have an internal consultation with our staff and, then for a limited time period, we will give some PCSOs some additional powers, and then we will work, probably with the University of Derby, to evaluate the effectiveness.

Q: Why are there not more firearm officers, particularly when gun crime is on the rise?

A: Gun crime isn’t on the rise in Derbyshire, it’s not particularly prevalent in Derbyshire – partly through luck, and partly through judgement, because we’ve had a really strong stance in relation to gun-enabled criminality. Since the horrific murder of Kadeem Blackwood in Derby eight or nine years ago, we vowed then that we would never allow the streets of Derby and Derbyshire to become a place which was synonymous with gun crime.

We’ve been extremely proactive and we have managed to avoid that, and we will continue to do so. If anything keeps me awake at night at the moment, it’s the prospect that, if there was a marauding terrorist attack in Derby, could I honestly put my hand on my heart and say: ‘I think we could give the kind of response that the Metropolitan police service gave to the events in London’? Frankly I couldn’t say that – so I am of the view that we do need more investment in some of our firearms officers in the number and the training to make sure we can properly protect the people of Derby and Derbyshire in the extremely unlikely event that there is a terrorist attack.

Q: Why aren’t you taking the rise in awareness of active paedophiles more seriously? Instead of getting them off our streets, all the police forces seem to do is let them go by the wayside with rubbish convictions, if they convict at all.

A: I take hugely seriously the exploitation of our children – I’m a father myself and, I have to say, we were one of the first forces in the country to do anything proactive in relation to child sexual exploitation when we monitored, investigated and prosecuted a large group of men in Derby who were sexually exploiting young girls.

And, if we hadn’t done that, we would maybe have the reputation of places like Rotherham and other areas of the country where perhaps the police were less proactive. We are actively investigating those who target children for their own sexual gratification through the internet and we have lots of capabilities that we’ve grown – some I can be honest about and some that, frankly, are covert and I wouldn’t want to tell you about at this point. But we are amongst the most proactive police forces in the country in terms of our pursuing those people who are exploiting and sexually assaulting our young people – whether it be online or in our communities.

Q: What are you doing about people who use their mobile phones while driving? You seemed to have been crack down on it for a while, but now it’s gone quiet. I see it all the time – it makes me so angry.

Driving a car and texting at the same time is dangerous and illegal

Driving a car and texting at the same time is dangerous and illegal

A: It makes me angry as well, especially when you see some of the footage and hear some of the stories about people who’ve lost their lives as a consequence of people doing this.

It is something we look out for – we have a roads policing unit, where they see it they will deal with it. If you see it, and you take footage of it, then please share that with us, and that’s something we can use in evidence. We are a smaller force than we’ve ever been since the 1970s – we can’t do everything all of the time, and there are certain choices we have to make about what we resource and what we don’t. I have to say that use of mobile phones by drivers, despicable as it is, probably isn’t one of our highest priorities, so when we come across it, we will deal with it, but there are other things which frankly are more of a priority for us.

Q: What about proper backup from the police when we do traveller evictions? Police shy away, leaving us to deal with things. Why are they so against using Section 61?

A: We don’t shy away from using it, we do respect the rights and privileges of the travelling community, and we are certainly not going to persecute them for pursuing their own lifestyle, but the legislation is set out – the primary responsibility for the removal of people who are trespassing on land belonging to the landowner, and it’s only when there are certain aggravating factors that we would become involved.

We would always encourage the landowner to take civil action, to have a conversation first to see if they will leave – frankly that’s the simplest, most straightforward way of doing it. In the event that that’s not been successful and there are aggravating features, then we will use our powers – but that is a more expensive and difficult route to pursue.