The new Chief Constable of Gwent Police has denied the force has a culture problem.
In an interview with Caerphilly Observer Chief Constable Pam Kelly was asked if there was a problem given recent allegations levelled at two senior officers and several high profile examples of inappropriate behaviour by officers.
Fitzpatrick told a misconduct hearing that her behaviour – which included asking a colleague if he fancied an affair with an older woman – was part of “a culture of banter” at the station.
Responding to the question from Caerphilly Observer, Ms Kelly said: “I see a number of police officers who are working really hard and doing their best for communities and who are hugely committed to public service.
“If there are pockets of culture existing, then I will be the first person to make sure that we tackle them. I am absolutely committed to making sure that as public servants, we display our values and we make sure that we walk with pride in terms of what we do as police officers and police staff.
“As far as I am concerned, there is a very positive culture here at Gwent Police, but where and if there are cultures that need to be dealt with then I will deal with them robustly as the Chief Constable of Gwent.”
Originally from the Porthcawl area, Ms Kelly has more than 25 years of policing experience – having joined as a special constable while she was a secondary school teacher.
Joining Dyfed-Powys Police as a regular in 1994, she has been a senior investigating officer, dealing with murder, rape and organised crime. She is also a trained firearms commander, public order commander and a hostage negotiator.
She joined Gwent Police in July 2017 as Deputy Chief Constable.
Her appointment as the Chief Constable, on a five-year contract, was confirmed by the Gwent Police and Crime Panel on Monday, August 12.
The roles of Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner can be still confusing for ordinary members of the public.
First elected in England and Wales in 2012, PCCs are responsible for ensuring the policing needs of the public are met as effectively and efficiently as possible and to oversee how crime is tackled by the police.
They also set the priorities for the Chief Constable through a police and crime plan and hold them to account with the power of hiring and firing. In turn, the Police and Crime Panel holds the Commissioner to account and scrutinises their decisions.
Caerphilly Observer readers were keen to find out from Ms Kelly why officers often didn’t respond in person to certain crimes when they are reported.
The reason, explained Ms Kelly, was one of resources and priorities.
Since 2010, Gwent Police has seen a fall of around 40% in its budget (see below).
Ms Kelly said: “The reality is when priority calls come in – that might be an ongoing domestic incident, a nasty assault, or something against a vulnerable person – one of our priorities.
“In our control room vulnerability is constantly prioritised. Without question you will see those calls prioritised and either an immediate deployment or a deployment that takes place quite quickly. That has to be our priority.
“Where perhaps things have changed, we always want people to contact us so that we can record crime. It’s really important that we get a feel for what crime is happening in our area. What we do is a risk-based approach. Is it right for a police officer to travel a 40-minute round-trip to investigate when there aren’t any lines of enquiry?
“Put six or seven of those together in one shift, would our communities want us to be doing that or dealing with monitoring sex offenders and/or dealing with ongoing issues?”
She added: “That’s not to say we are not interested in crime that has happened, it is about being realistic in what we can deal with and when. I wouldn’t want that to be a mixed message going out to our communities, because we can’t be all things to all people.”