Posted: Monday 8th February 2016
Residents regularly write to me with their experiences of using the 101 non-emergency number. I believe it’s important that local people have the opportunity to explore the quality of how the police deliver the service to the communities they serve. At the end of last week my Service Delivery Assurance Panel, made up of local people, met to review police call handling and initial response. The aim of my Panel is to give local people the chance to, openly and transparently, highlight examples of police service best practice as well as identifying areas for improvement.
From looking at the calls into the police communication centre the Panel found that much more needs to be done to reduce waiting times, but when a caller does get through they generally receive an excellent service.
The Panel also made some interesting suggestions for improvement including increased promotion of online reporting, suggestions regarding national issues and issues with police force boundaries, all of which I am in discussions with the Constabulary about. This session is part of a programme of sessions scrutinising the police to ensure local people are receiving the best possible police service.
I’m pleased to say that the Constabulary are once again recruiting new police officers. Policing is a challenging and rewarding job and it’s important that the doors are open to anyone and everyone who is considering a vocation in policing and wants to make a difference.
For Avon and Somerset to be the best police force it can be, it needs to be truly representative of the local communities it serves. People relate to people and different people can bring different life experiences to the role of a police officer. We are fortunate to live in such a diverse and vibrant place and we want people who have a passion for taking care of our local communities. I would encourage people from all backgrounds to apply. We are looking for 120 new police officers this year and more information can be found on the police website.
Our new Chief Constable Andy Marsh took up his role this week and yesterday we both supported events for Time to Talk day which aims to end the stigma and discrimination that people with mental health problems face. We also visited the Bristol ‘street triage team,’ which is a new initiative designed to improve the identification of people of all ages with a learning disability, personality disorder, substance misuse, or mental health issues at the first point of contact with the police.
The scheme is working really well and mental health professionals including mental health nurses and social workers carry out the ‘street triage’ instead of police officers untrained in identifying such conditions. On average in two out of three cases the police are able to take alternative action which doesn't involve temporary sectioning people to a police cell. This frees up officers time to concentrate on crime, and enables the individual to get their needs met in a positive and appropriate way without being detained.
Mental health is a huge issue across the whole of the UK and locally we’ve come a long way in working with partners to deliver the Mental Health Concordat. It’s important that we encourage more people to talk about mental health problems not only on Time to Talk Day but every day.