Posted: Tuesday 22nd April 2014
I'm sure many of you have seen the story about a police officer who was dismissed for his social media use. The decision was made following an internal investigation before the case went to a gross misconduct panel with two senior officers and an independent member.
Mr Ryan's dismissal has provoked an emotive debate, not only in the media, but throughout the 'blogosphere'.
The hearing has also raised an important point in highlighting the significance of the appeals process, as an officer has the right to appeal against the findings of a misconduct panel should they choose to.
It is my responsibility as Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure impartiality. Therefore, part of my role is to set up an independent panel to review the outcome. Hopefully this experience will not deter Avon and Somerset police from using social media as I feel they do so effectively in communicating with the communities they serve.
The potential reach of social media is something we should all be aware of. If used correctly as a communications tool, social media can not only dramatically improve communications, but also enhance the policing service local people can expect.
I enjoy communicating on Twitter (@SuMountstevens), as does the Chief Constable (@ngargan_police), and as it says in the advert, it gets to the places and people that we normally don't get to. But it's only one of many ways we can engage with local residents.
Another way of improving the policing service is ensuring that the right people are in the right roles helping to deliver the challenging requirements that policing demands. Policing is a diverse business and requires individuals with great people skills, a passion for community safety and flexibility in dealing with a variety of situations.
Over the past couple of months I have attended several student officer graduation ceremonies to welcome the men and women who are embarking on their journey with Avon and Somerset police.
It is a great privilege to witness these special moments and see those who have met the challenge and embraced this opportunity. More recently, the constabulary has opened its doors for further opportunity and is welcoming individuals to apply to be part of an accelerated three-year promotion and development programme, and also taking part in a direct entry scheme. I want the very best people for your police service.
The importance of having the correct people in place to deal with the variety of situations policing brings is particularly significant in specific instances.
The constabulary and I have recently launched a domestic abuse trial, which aims to bring staff and partner agencies together as one team to deliver a more co-ordinated service for victims.
The purpose of the Lighthouse Victim and Witness Care programme is to provide support and care for some of the most vulnerable victims and will be delivered by a dedicated team of police staff and independent sexual violence advisers.
When a victim is vulnerable, they need stability and this is the focus of the programme which will ensure each victim has an assigned victim care officer throughout their recovery, giving them not only knowledge and support, but putting the victim back in control.
Providing care to victims as and when they require it most and working in partnership with partner agencies plays a paramount part in policing. Crimestoppers are just one of the organisations that work closely with the police to support victims and help bring offenders to justice.
For example, this week they have put up a £2,000 reward for information following the robbery and assault of a wheelchair-bound, Royal Navy veteran in Worle in January.
If you have any details about this disgraceful act of hate crime I would urge you to contact Crimestoppers or call 101. Crimestoppers do a fantastic job and I was delighted Chief Constable Nick Gargan, among others, ran the London Marathon and raised money to support the work they do.
Until next time.