Posted: Friday 24th May 2013
It has been a busy six months as your first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and I relish every day in this groundbreaking new role.
There has been a lot of commentary about the introduction of Commissioners and their early days in office. There have been highs, lows and controversy but above all there has been real progress.
The role of PCCs was fundamentally created to make sure that the police meet the needs of the community giving people a direct say in policing issues in their area. It is clear that the police cannot fight crime alone and that they need the support of the public. I can only speak for myself but I already feel that the connections between the police and the public are genuinely getting stronger through this role.
The public feedback I receive in-person or in writing, has been at times overwhelming with nearly 1300 correspondents in just over two-months but I welcome it and I want it to continue. I was elected to be your voice, so you need to let me hear your views. I am listening so let me hear your comments. In this way, we can make a difference in your area, your community or your policing matter.
In 184 days in post I have carried out nearly 100 visits to community groups and organisations within Avon and Somerset, and in that short time I have met some exceptional people. This is why I have decided to launch the PCC’s Pride Awards to recognise those people who go above and beyond what is expected. You can find out more and apply on-line at www.avonandsomerset-pcc.gov.uk. I’m calling on you to nominate the unsung heroes in your community, be they officers, PCSO’s, police staff, community leaders or individuals who have made an outstanding difference.
Much of the debate about PCCs over the past six months has been about the size of their teams and spending. Hopefully you are all aware that I have not employed a Deputy PCC. However the role of the PCC is much larger than the previous Police Authority and I am committed to working much closer with many different groups and in particularly young people. There has been a lot in the papers about how to listen to the voices of young people and I need to work with existing groups and create new youth forums across Avon & Somerset so that we can build on improving relationships between the police and this group. It is vital that we listen to our youngsters especially with those who struggle to engage with the police and other authorities. I also want to work with the new Health bodies to explore better ways of providing a better service to people with mental illness. This is an area where the various agencies need to work far closer together to prevent people with mental illness being taken to police cells because there are no hospital based places of safety available. To help with these areas of work I am taking on an additional person in my team to concentrate on these issues. The decision to recruit was not an easy one. I am well aware of the importance of every pound that we spend and the delicate balance between this role and your policing needs. The PCC budget makes up less than half a percent of the overall police budget and I can assure you that I will spend your money wisely so that you will see a difference.
From next year I will also be responsible for commissioning services for victims, and last week we held our first roundtable to discuss the way forward. We have many excellent organisations providing high quality support to victims, helping them through extraordinarily difficult situations but the victim’s journey is enormously complex and I want to find ways to help victims through this journey. I want to reduce duplication and, improve information sharing. I want to listen closely to victims when they tell us things have gone wrong and find ways to change things for the better.
Until next time