Posted: Friday 6th February 2015
Last week it was announced that Avon and Somerset Police and Wiltshire Police would be forming a strategic alliance to share resources and save money.
It was in December that Acting Chief Constable John Long and I met with our counterparts in Wiltshire to begin discussing how we could work more closely together. Both forces were facing the same challenge; huge savings still to make on top of significant savings found over the past five years. We are already collaborating with a shared Major Crime Investigation Team and Special Branch team and it made sense to see how we could build on this.
As a result of the discussions we have agreed to enter into a strategic alliance which will see us become much more integrated in how we work. Both Avon and Somerset Police and Wiltshire Police will retain their own identity, and with it their Chief Constables and PCC. In addition, neighbourhood and response policing will remain locally controlled. However, everything else is still on the table as we look to share specialist police resources and protective services as well as our corporate functions. While the practicalities are still being worked through this is certainly a big but necessary step for both organisations.
The key thing I want to stress is that all those involved in the discussions are committed to neighbourhood policing, our local partnerships and our work with communities. In fact, this collaboration with Wiltshire will help us protect frontline services. In the past five years, Avon and Somerset Police has had to find £46m savings and we anticipate another £40m savings by 2018/19. So far, we’ve only identified £17m of this and the alliance will help us find around two-thirds of the outstanding savings. Big challenges require radical solutions but we work well with Wiltshire Police already and I’m very optimistic about the future.
We’re certainly not retreating from our communities and in fact the Constabulary have this week started recruiting for 120 new police officers. I still believe – as do the vast majority of people – that police officers are pillars of our communities and widely respected. They do a tough job and deserve our appreciation.
It’s important that police officers represent all parts of our community so if you’re interested please don’t discount yourself just because you think you’re not what we’re looking for – let the Constabulary be the judge of that. Opportunities to recruit in the future will be few and far between so now is the time to seize the moment and apply.
It was a similar situation when I put myself forward for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner. I’m not a politician and hadn’t ever stood for election or run a campaign so in many ways I didn’t fit in to what people expected of the role. However, I had suitable experience in business and as a Magistrate and was passionate about the role off PCC being an independent one and local people having an independent candidate to choose from. I put myself forward and was surprised but delighted to have been elected. Two years on, I’m still very proud to be your PCC.
So if you want to be a police officer but don’t think you fit in be brave, apply and see what happens. Like me, you could end up surprised, delighted and with a new job. Good luck to everyone who applies.
Until next time,