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Guest blog: Transformation, challenges and opportunities along the way

Posted: Thursday 18th February 2016
Blog: Blogs

As Chief Executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), writing blogs is not something I am accustomed to.  However I hope the following will give you some insight into my role and the key issues which I deal with on a daily basis.  Prior to the November 2012 PCC election, I was Chief Executive to the Avon and Somerset Police Authority for over three years and what has followed since has been an eye opening experience, with transformation, challenges and opportunities along the way.

The main word I would use to summarise my job is “varied”.  My primary role is to advise and support the PCC in carrying out their role as the voice of local people in policing, ensuring the policing needs of local communities are met and delivering the Police and Crime Plan on behalf of the residents of Avon and Somerset.  I work closely alongside Mark Simmonds, our Chief Finance Officer who leads on budget, financial issues and major projects.  I also manage with a Senior Leadership Team a small team of staff based at Police Headquarters in Portishead, who deliver PCC communications, commissioning and deal with contacts from local people.

Reflecting on the past three and a half years, it’s been an interesting time to say the least and during that time I have been involved in key areas of work including: advising the PCC on potential collaborations from the Strategic Alliance with Wiltshire to wider working across the South West. As well as working with the PCC team on seeking to deliver the PCC’s priorities and also on other policy initiatives, particularly around mental health and child sexual exploitation.

The work of the Office of the PCC is akin to the Civil Service in relation to advising and supporting Government Ministers. We work for and support whoever residents elect as the PCC for Avon and Somerset for their term in office which is usually four years. With an election approaching in May, a key part of our work over the next few months will be ensuring that potential candidates are provided with appropriate briefings and that we work closely with the people appointed to run the election, in particular the Police Area Returning Officer (PARO).

The PARO for Avon and Somerset PCC elections this May is the Chief Executive of Bath and North East Somerset, Dr Jo Farrar OBE. As an office, we have set up a joint election Board with the Constabulary and members of Jo’s team to ensure that we are managing the various issues presented by an election.  More information about the PCC elections, contact details for the PARO and briefings for candidates can be found on the PCC election website - www.avonandsomerset-election.co.uk

I consider myself privileged to be part of the Avon and Somerset Office of the PCC. With a background in law, specialising in public sector issues and collaborative working, fairness, openness and equality in policing are areas of business I am very passionate about.  I am grateful to be in a positon to lead an equally enthusiastic team and work alongside such professional officers and staff in Avon and Somerset Constabulary.  Local people have a right to expect a certain standard and level of policing and working together we aim to ensure this is the case. 

John Smith

Chief Executive, Avon and Somerset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner

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