Posted: Friday 17th October 2014
Confidence in the police is a fragile thing which can be easily swayed by so many different factors; your own direct experience of dealing with the police or what you hear from others, how they behave in your community or what you read about them in the media. However, being able to have confidence in the police is vital as it affects how safe you feel in your neighbourhood.
Today I‘ll touch on two of the many aspects which affect that confidence – a rigorous scrutiny process to make sure the police service performs at its best (and is held to account when it doesn’t) and the ease of contacting them by phone.
Avon and Somerset Police has a professional standards department which can deal with complaints from members of the public but sometimes independent scrutiny is needed. Often this is done through inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary but sometimes you’ll see the Independent Police Complaints Commission become involved.
Last week the Constabulary received the IPCC’s report into the police treatment of Bijan Ebrahimi in the days before his death. While I’m not yet able to talk about the case in detail, it was clear soon after Mr Ebrahimi’s murder that the police failed in their duty to protect him and this was supported in the IPCC’s report. I’m pleased that the report has been completed and that Mr Ebrahimi’s family will finally get some of the answers they’re looking for.
Meetings have already begun happening to reflect on the report’s findings and I’ll be seeking reassurance from the police that they are clear in the areas that need to be addressed and are working quickly to fix them. After all, as well as other oversight bodies, a key role of a Police and Crime Commissioner is to represent the local community and make sure that local people are receiving the best policing possible.
In my last column, I mentioned frustrations I had that 101 calls weren’t being answered as quickly as they should have been. Well, what a difference a fortnight makes; the police are now beginning to see the results of their hard work to turn the situation around. The proportion of calls answered within 60 seconds has increased substantially to 76% and continues to improve, while less than 5% of 101 calls were abandoned – far fewer than in previous weeks.
Sometimes it’s easy to get too focused on statistics and forget that behind each statistic is a person wanting to tell us or ask us something or in need the police’s assistance. I was reminded of that this week when I received a letter from someone who had called 101 to report aggressive cold-callers in Clevedon. He was immediately put through to the control room and seven minutes later police officers were at his house and had located the man causing concern. They wrote to tell me that 101 was a very good service and whilst not all calls would receive such an outstanding response, given the chance police will sort out problems quickly.
It’s always encouraging to hear from people who value the service provided and have confidence that problems will be addressed by the police. There is still work to do with the 101 performance, but things are moving in the right direction and the service is one people can have confidence in.
Until next time,