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TV money better spent on catching criminals

Posted: Thursday 19th June 2014
Blog: Blogs

One week into World Cup fever, with a nation gripped by football, it is very hard not to be seen as killjoys for switching off television screens across police stations in Avon and Somerset.

A move prompted by Avon and Somerset Police being sued for copyright infringement by the music licensing company (Phonographic Performance Limited). It follows a similar ban on radios in police stations in Avon and Somerset, due to the fees required from ‘The Performing Right Society’ for playing music in work or recreational places.

Only last year, the money police forces around the country had incurred to play music was part of much debate, with the Met spending as much as £246,297. The TaxPayers’ Alliance pointed out that this kind of spending was an, “easy way…to save money and focus funds on catching criminals and preventing crime." I have to agree.

As the person responsible for the police budget on behalf of taxpayers, I have to make sure that money is being spent efficiently. Spending thousands of pounds on PRS and PPL fees does not represent value for money and rightly the money can be better spent on fighting crime. I am sure the police will not be alone this summer with many people working in places where you will be unable to watch highlights such as the World Cup, Wimbledon and Glastonbury on the television.

I am meeting many residents who believe that soon their entire local police station will be closed. In April we announced a whole range of changes to police stations across Avon and Somerset which included many being re-located to smaller premises. This message seems to have been lost with many people telling me that their local station is being shut. This is having a massive impact locally.

Over the next two to three years there are four police stations which are closing and relocating 5-15 minutes away - Avonmouth, Bishopsworth, Brislington and Filton. The rest of the stations in Bristol and South Gloucestershire will remain in the same area but in smaller premises. Last week I went out on foot with Bristol’s Area Commander Chief Superintendent Jon Reilly, in search of new suitable locations for Trinity police station. We have both attended public meetings stating our firm intention to remain in the area. Everyone is committed to that and we will continue the search for a new smaller base to house the neighbourhood policing team and response officers.

I would like to congratulate PCs Keith Openshaw and Karen MacDonald both from Bristol, who received the Queen’s Police Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. They have both made tremendous contributions to community policing and this recognition is richly deserved. I know personally that Keith’s work with the diverse communities of Bristol has led to much mutual respect and support.

The celebrations continued over the weekend with the police headquarters open day. I hope that many readers enjoyed the fabulous pictures in the Post. It really was a remarkable day and a real shame we could not open the doors for more people. It was such a success that I will be looking for the event to return again next year. I think it is really important that as many local people as possible can see what goes on behind-the-scenes of policing. Watch this space for more details.

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