Posted: Friday 22nd May 2015
In recent weeks the future of PCCs has been an uncertain one. Only one of the three main parties was committed to keeping them but with a Conservative victory it looks like they’re here to stay for a few more years at least. I was surprised at just how little attention policing received during the parties’ campaigns. The focus was very much on other areas of the public sector but I expect this to change now as the Government looks to implement its plan for the next few years.
Exactly what those changes will mean for policing remain to be seen. It’s quite likely the government will seek to develop the role of PCCs with greater and further-reaching responsibilities. These will be implemented alongside further reform of the police service. On Tuesday the Home Secretary told me there will be a new Policing Bill in the Queen’s Speech – and that reform would, in her words, be ‘urgent and radical’.
Whatever happens we’ll be required to find more savings in the coming years. I expect that at least a further £40m will have to be found by 2018/19 –we’ve already identified where £17m of that will come from but have more to find. It will require some difficult conversations about what the police should and shouldn’t be doing as they continue to deliver the service our communities expect.
I was fortunate enough to be on holiday when the election result came in and so I was able to spend a few days reflecting on what all this means for PCCs and for me in particular. Regardless of what happens nationally, in Avon and Somerset in the coming months I want to concentrate on three key areas of policing; accessibility, visibility and civility.
This isn’t rocket science but making sure we’re getting these basics right every time will make sure you feel safe in your community and that if you need the police you’ll be listened to and treated with respect.
Accessibility. The police will continue to be there at a time and place convenient for you. This could be on the phone, online or in person at a police station or at one of the locations we share with our partners. I also want to make sure there are opportunities for you to be part of your police service through, for example, volunteering or becoming a Special Constable.
Visibility. We’ll continue to embrace smarter ways of working and advances in technology to make sure that the police are visible in your communities, acting as a reassuring presence and around for you to stop and have a chat with.
Civility. The vast majority of police officers and staff are professional, friendly and interested in what you have to say. It’s no more than you deserve but if you feel that their interaction with you fell short of your expectations you need to know how you can feed that back. It’s only by listening to our communities that we’ll have a better chance of getting it right every time.
Just as important as the police being there to support you, they need our support too. To find £46m savings in recent years – and with more to come – the police have had to adjust to very different ways of working. This has affected morale and they need to know that what they do is valued by me, by the senior officers I work with and, most importantly, by our communities. They do it because they love the job, not because they want plaudits, but nonetheless they deserve our thanks and respect. They certainly have mine.
Until next time,