Posted: Friday 21st December 2012
It’s been one month since the election and it’s been quite a journey. I look back at those weeks on the campaign trail as an independent candidate with no party machine behind me with fond memories. This may be coloured by rose-tinted spectacles having been elected, but in the main it was enjoyable if hard work. I thoroughly enjoyed the company of the other candidates in fact saw them more often than my family during the last few weeks of the campaign. I roped in the help and support of family and friends and I enjoyed taking the time to listen - to find out what people wanted from this new and important post.
The listening has not stopped. In the past three weeks I have received nearly a thousand messages on things that matter to you, sometimes advice on how things could be done better, sometimes requests to meet you and sometimes just comments on how we could all make Avon and Somerset a safer place to be. This is what the job is all about, I am your voice and with you and the Constabulary, I will work hard to make our area a safer place to live and work. That is why I am asking you for your views on the Police & Crime Plan.
For the first time Somerset will have its own plan based on your priorities and what you tell me you want the police and criminal justice organisations to focus on. I want as many people as possible to visit www.consultation.avonandsomerset.police.uk to have their say. I believe everyone has the right to be safe and feel safe in their community and I have pledged to tackle anti-social behaviour, burglary, violent crime, particularly against women and girls and give victims a louder voice, especially the quiet ones. Listening to those people that don’t usually speak up is very important to me I want people to approach me, just as they did on the campaign trail. I still have my email email@example.com and my facebook and twitter @SuMountstevens, it’s important I hear from you.
I have been on the road one day a week in my new post and I have met plenty of amazing people all in different circumstances some who have survived the worst of horrors whether that is domestic or sexual abuse to those that are homeless. But also some really positive stories such as a community project on the Hamp estate in Bridgwater where an old fishing lake – Browne’s Pond has been given a new lease of life and anti-social behaviour that has been tackled by residents, Sedgemoor council and the police all working together.
There have been a number of views on policing lately the think-tank the Policy Exchange is recommending that a chain of Citizen Police Academies should be set up to train the public on how to play their part in fighting crime. Public involvement in policing is essential, I have talked about how we can only make Avon and Somerset safer by working together however there is a fine line between involvement and intervention. I would not want to get to point where members of the public take personal risks in circumstances that they are not trained for.
Operation tonic is currently underway and people are being encouraged to 'shop a drink driver' by texting Drunk from their mobile to 81819 and give details of the driver, car, registration and location so police can follow it up. This new idea was a result of people telling the police that they did not know what to do when they have seen people who are obviously drunk and should not be driving and the police have responded with a text number. This is just one way of people being involved in policing but you can go further by volunteering, through the special constabulary, neighbourhood watch, police support volunteers or street pastors.
In my role as PCC I would like to make policing as open and transparent as possible and I will soon be looking to recruit volunteer panels to scrutinise complaints, and stop and search. All our volunteers do a fantastic job, Special Constables particularly work very hard often carrying out their role on top of a full time job and other commitments unpaid. Recruitment in Avon and Somerset is already underway for more Specials http://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/recruitment/specials/ and I am honoured to be attending the Special Constabulary Awards evening in February.
We will be saying goodbye to our Chief Constable Colin Port in January. I would personally like to thank him for his advice and wise words during the past few weeks. Having served 38 successful years in the police service, leading nationally on international policing I am sure he will continue to do great things. During these hectic first weeks I have also had the privilege of meeting police officers and staff, so a special thank you for making me feel so welcome, thank you for being patient when I have been keen to get on and thank you for making our lives safer every day.
We are all part of a team - police, local authorities, organisations and residents we all need to play our part in making a difference in 2013.