Tynwald this week debated the Chief Constable’s annual report. To save time, please take it as read that every member who spoke praised Gary Roberts, all the officers and every member of staff within the Constabulary for their incredibly hard work.

The report, which Gef has broken down into four pieces, looks at many aspects of policing the island and the challenges of the pandemic. 

Our coverage was broken down into: 

Mental Health 

Drugs and Organised Crime

The Pandemic

Recruitment, Assaults and Cyber Crime

This briefing should not be seen as a verbatim transcript of the debate, if you want to listen to the full debate, you can do so by clicking here.

Minister for Justice and Home Affairs Graham Cregeen: 

I’d like to start by quoting from the Chief Constable’s letter to me: ‘The year was like no other as the Constabulary learned to deal with the effects of a global pandemic.’ 

Honourable members, how true that statement is

Life has changed for us all

We have faced unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic

The effects of this will remain with us for some time

The main themes is the Constabulary’s response to the pandemic

It has been a health crisis, as well as a human economic and social crisis

Over the past year we have endured three lockdowns each of which had their own challenges and the Constabulary played an important and vital role

They worked tirelessly with other gov agencies to safeguard health services and the public

The visible Police presence did a lot to enhance people’s sense of safety and ensure our island was protected

Their work was and is vital 

My Dept is proud to work alongside them to ensure we live in a safe and secure island

We must also congratulate the other services in the dept who have worked so hard, these include Civil Defence volunteers, the Fire Service, the Prison service, the comms teams and all other members of staff

I’d also like to pay tribute to two much loved retired Sergeants who died this past year John Kinrade, better known as “Laxey”, and Richard ‘Ritchie’ Lloyd who died from the virus both of whom are sadly missed

The report is to be read online and allows comparisons with other jurisdictions and contains links to relevant data and graphs

Overall crime rose by 18% which is almost wholly composed of increase in the seizure of controlled drugs, low level assaults and fraud offences

The way in which online fraud was recorded was changed this year, previously it went to UK Action Fraud but now it is dealt with here, hence the 50% increase

The island continues to be one of the safest and most special places to live

The gov wants us all to live our lives safe from crime and danger and with the Constabulary’s hard work this is the case

They dealt with an 11% increase in mental health related incidents and higher levels of suicide and worked with a variety of partners to ensure effective help is there for the most vulnerable in our society

The Neighborhood Policing Teams, despite the lockdowns, have demonstrated they will make the island even safer

The policing plan for the next year highlights where the work is needed to be done and it will be done

Drug related crimes are continuing to be a focus for the Police and with the borders closed, gangs had to use alternative ways to get the drugs here and the cash away

As a result we had a record number of seizures

The success of the more frequent seizures of smaller amounts has led to the recording of more crimes

The proactive approach of the police, along with partners in the UK, in their efforts to disrupt and dismantle the supply of drugs has been critical in maintaining the safety of our island and lessening the often violent attacks associated with the illegal drugs world

It is concerning to see vulnerable children and adults being targeted by gangs

Young people are falling into the cycle of dealing and drug abuse, we must help them turn their lives around

I remain concerned about the continued drugs trade and as I highlighted last October, addiction, health problems, mental health problems, violence, debt, crime and sadly death are all consequences of this trade

Drugs destroy countless lives and we have highlighted this as a priority in the policing plan for this year

Violent crime has risen for three years in a row now

Some of this is due to better reporting practices but much of the increase is linked to the supply of controlled drugs

So we have also implemented a violent crime reduction plan to remove this scourge from our island

Gov has brought in a border force which works with the Constabulary

It is vitality important that more info on those who have travelled is gathered on people travelling to our island

Criminal activity also has the potential to damage our international reputation

We want to prevent crime, respond appropriately and rehabilitate those who offend, especially young offenders or those acting in an anti-social way

Pandemic has left its mark on young people’s mental health

Schools have their role to play to provide stability and consistency

There is also a need for further understanding for adverse childhood experiences in young people

Moving forward, it is crucial that we do everything we can to support young people and do our utmost to help them make the right choices

Chief Constable has highlighted the success of the youth team and the work of the specials in assisting the Constabulary

The pandemic further highlighted the issue of domestic abuse on our island

The police have worked to develop initiatives such as safe spaces in supermarkets and pharmacies where victims can contact support services and agencies

We have also worked to provide emergency accommodation for victims and families during lockdown

Our new domestic abuse bill has also moved to help bring abusers to justice

We also recognise the strength of public feeling around sexual offences

Over the year, there was a 15% increase in reporting of these offences

I am pleased that members of the public feel able to report what has happened to them

The opening of the SARC means victims will be able to get the assistance and the support they need on island

The progress of this was delayed by the pandemic but has picked up at a pace

I do want to praise the work the Constabulary does in assisting the victims of these crimes and bringing the guilty to justice

Our Constabulary remains the most successful in the British Isles and it is good they have worked to scrutinise their own procedures

I note with concern that outside of Covid the main reasons for absences for officers was mental health issues

We owe a great deal to these men and women and we need to support both their physical and mental health

There were seven complaints made to the police

These figures are very low and show how good the Constabulary is at what it does

Looking forward, the Chief Constable will retire in 2022 and as he takes a well deserved retirement, holding the accolade of being the first Manx officer to ride through the ranks

Succession planning is a key issue

While this has been hampered, I have discussed the issue of a Deputy Chief and this process is now underway

The future is hard to predict but we as an island community can continue to have confidence in our Constabulary

Jane Poole-Wilson: I’d like to begin by praising the hard work and dedication of our Constabulary

Much in the report to reflect on and consider

I want to pick up on young people

Welcome the police are already engaged in working with young people who are engaged in anti-social behaviour

But for some of our young people the work is much more complex and the police can’t do it alone

We need to try new things and adapt and evolve our approach

It is my hope that the new administration will take full note of this issue and engage all parts of the public service and third sector including Health, Social Care and Education

Daphne Caine: Another excellent report from Chief Constable

It is past time there is a strategic response to issues raised every year

Over £1m in drug seizures and young people are being used more to traffic drugs

Alarm bells should be sounding given the increasing numbers of violent assaults

The island’s drug legislation needs a serious review

We should be protecting people, not just criminalising young people

We need to discuss all decriminalising and legalising options

Onchan has suffered repeated incidents

Over 625 offences last year across the island and a rise in anti-social behaviour is a worrying spike

I worry we are losing a generation and we need to understand why

The pandemic has delayed progress and saw a 10% increase in offending in looked after children

Work will be undertaken to try to address this

Hats off to the police for collaborating with other agencies but more joined up thinking is needed

Optimistic that the education strategy will help but I am concerned that cuts to Education and Police has lead to some of this

The next gov needs to reverse the cuts of the past and invest in our young people

Highest ever level of mental health issues but funding for extra resources went to DHSC which resulted in a change to the system

When a recurring theme of self harm and suicides is clear, it is hard to see why this was done

We have an excellent police force but they need more support and better pay

This report highlights the need for improvements and the new administration needs to address social issues

We should look again at the blue light hub

We need fit for purpose accommodation for all of our emergency services

Police work well with their UK and European counterparts, $22m reclaimed in stolen bitcoin, well done

Our police did their best in an extremely difficult year

The new policy makers need to make sure these issues are addressed and that police budget bids are supported to keep up and officers safe

Martyn Perkins: Reading the report, it is clear the tentacles of evil have found their way to our island

We are no longer in a town and village situation, we need inner city responses

Whenever I hear sirens I worry if my daughter is working and I know this is the same across every emergency service

Every conceivable aspect of crime manifests here and the resources need to be there to support them

The police don’t come cap in hand for handouts, they just do the best they can

The next gov needs to get the SARC open, we need to increase the crisis team support

We need facial recognition and ID at boats and airports

Sniffer dogs should meet every arrival

Community policing needs to include clubs, schools, commissioners

We need a strong police cadet force and specials 

And finally we need a complete review of our drug laws and to ensure the force is properly funded

Thank you all for your hard work and for how you dealt with Covid and the constantly changing laws we put in place

Bill Henderson: I have sat through 23 of these reports now and it strikes me that these topics are the same every year

We still worry about young people, drug crime, rising weapons offences

Maybe we need a review of what it is we’re doing policy wise, legislative wise and resource wise

I’m sure some of my comments will come as no surprise but firstly I want to thank Gary Roberts and all of his officers for their Herculean effort this past year

It’s not just been law and order issues but also the pandemic 

We were imposing sets of every changing laws on them and they dealt with it expertly

Our police also have to deal with serious assaults and crime

They are spat at, bitten, punched, kicked, threatened and even threats involving weapons, that is the kind of thing they have to face and as far as I’m concerned, people act like that have no place in our community or our society

Drugs have been highlighted and I’ve had my own briefings about this and we had the Tynwald briefing and all I can say is that the executive have to give more weight to what the police are pointing out 

When you’re under resourced to start with, it is never easy and the executive has to resolve this
Central gov is going to have to raise this as a principal issue

I’ve had officers pleading as to what the situation is

If we’re serious about this, we need to get serious about it

We need to look at what specialist services we can do on island or what we need to send off island

We are not addressing the issue of mental health properly

Through the press and what the police report, there is a rise in sex offences, especially those affecting young people

We need to get a grip of this and take some operational decisions to protect our young people going forward

If our children were involved we’d be pushing for more to be done and we need to get real about how we manage this going forward

To end on a positive note, we have a very safe community and that is because of the police

Bill Shimmins: Officers obviously can’t be on every street at every hour and that would be undesirable

But I would like to know when the portal to enable the public to upload footage for the police to investigate will be open

This will make our roads safer

The scourge of drugs comes out clearly and it is driving the rise in crime

I hope the Manx border force will monitor all those who are coming and going to our island and should share it with the Constabulary

I know some people oppose this and I understand it but for me that is outweighed by the need to protect our island

If it is easy to go shopping or to watch football then it easy to bring in heroine

Julie Edge: Officers worked through very difficult times

In Onchan there have been difficulties but with the response from the Police we have seen improvements  

They have taken a targeted approach to the issues and we’ve seen improvements

I don’t want to see young people criminalised for silly behaviour

We need support in place and early intervention

Borders are one of our greatest assets and with immigration services we can remain safe

But it needs to be resourced properly 

The Post Office has supported the police and the use of the postal service by drug dealers is a big concern for our posties

We need to support mental health services properly and if more resources is required then we should make sure the police have the support they need

Next gov needs to look more at social media and online behaviours

Police have very limited powers and I hope the next administration will bring in legislation to support our young people, our schools and our teachers to deal with the rise in online issues

Chris Robertshaw: I want to focus on one point, recruitment and retention

I have been banging on about this for five years

Brexit has changed everything

With rate of pay going up for non-skilled and semi-skilled workers, this is affecting our ability to recruit

We have an end of benign inflation

The Chief Constable said he is concerned about the rates of pay for junior officers

They are working volatile shift patterns and combined with low pay, all the good things we’re seeing now will start to dissipate like dry sand between our fingers

The next house needs to address this issue

The Manx Gov must direct more funds towards front line services and more become more productive and streamlined

There is going to be a cost to this and we need to find the money

Tanya August-Hanson MLC: I want to focus on drugs and youth services, I spoke on this last year and they’re still present

I want the Minister to answer whether we will continue ID checks on the Steam Packet and how we can use information to target crime

I share the concerns of Mr Robertshaw about recruitment and retention

We have passed a lot of legislation which needs to be followed up with training and extra resources.

Paul Quine: My first speech to Tynwald was on drug crime and anti-social behaviour

Since being elected, we’ve been engaged in working with the police to highlight ongoing issues of anti-social behaviour and how they are seeking to reduce this

Several of our elderly constituents live in fear about going out of their houses

Recently I was sent a video of a group of tanked up men fighting in the middle of afternoon

I hope when the new gov comes in we can put greater resources into resolving this

I have been out on a Saturday night with the police and seen the harrowing issues they have to deal with

Graham Cregeen: Cheers everyone, the police have a very hard job

Engagement with young people does need to be looked at and the Justice Reform Bill will address this and lead to more joined up working

We are organising regional events for neighbourhood policing where the police will be going out and explaining what they’re doing to try and help people

We are doing a review into illicit drugs and their future

Pre-school funding has doubled during this administration and we’ve put quality standards in there so it should be better than it was before

Joined up working with Manx Care will restart the partnership working 

Blue Light Hub concept has been agreed and we’re working on it

It will be a big programme but how it is phased will be a big issue for the next gov

Police pay will be reviewed with the Chief Constable

The SARC was delayed by Covid but we’re pushing on with that and a domestic abuse refuge

We need to protect our borders and I want the border agency to work with the police in that

They are meeting both boats and planes, which should send a message to people wanting to get drugs in that our borders are manned

There will be a new sentencing bill in the next administration

The portal Mr Shimmins raised is a year behind schedule, it is due to Covid and can’t be helped

The inclusion group work is extremely important and is highly valued going forward

We have put in a bid for increased resources for border forces not only at Sea Terminal and Airport but at all of our ports

New recruit pay is too low and next gov needs to look at that and key worker housing to get new people in here

Mortgages are not easy to come by for young people and we need to help our key workers

Mr Roberts will be deeply missed when he leaves and I just want to finish by thanking all of our officers for the work they do

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