Posted: Friday 26th September 2014
It may sound like a cliché but nothing stays the same for long in policing and currently more than ever there is a real sense of momentum as we see key changes happening in the coming weeks.
This month three new police centres in Patchway, Keynsham and Bridgwater open and will provide officers and staff with modern buildings fit for a new generation of policing. The new custody centres will mean officers spend less time in custody and are back on our streets and in our communities quicker. Whenever I meet people they tell me that what matters most of them is knowing the police are there for them when they are needed and these new buildings will help to achieve that.
Last week I held a public forum at the Trinity Centre and a key concern raised by several people was the future of the police station across the road. It was clear to me that the building was seen very much as a part of the fabric of the neighbourhood and one they would be very sorry to lose. No decision has been made yet on the future of the building but I want to be clear that we are committed to ensuring the police remain at the heart of the Trinity community – even if that means one day moving to a smaller building to allow us to invest more in putting more officers and PCSOs on patrol.
I do enjoy attending the forums and the other community events I go to because I’m always reminded just how passionately people feel about policing and the associated issues. If you have the opportunity to come along to one please do – it’s always good to meet people and hear their views on what matters to them. I’m holding the next one in South Gloucestershire on November 25th - the details will be published soon.
It was by listening to people that I decided one of my four key priorities would be ensuring victims are at the heart of the criminal justice system. Most people will not come into contact with the police until they are a victim of crime and it’s important that when that happens they get the support they need every single time.
I was pleased to read last week that the Director of Public Prosecutions is planning to give victims more help in court; giving them a greater voice by encouraging them to read a statement about the impact a crime has had on them, better preparing them for their experience while they’re giving evidence and more instruction to crown lawyers to challenge any inappropriate cross-examination of the victim. It is a time when they need our help and it is important that we – as a wider criminal justice family – are there for them.
Locally we are already making changes to support victims and next month a new victim care service is launched which brings together the police, other criminal justice agencies and support groups to transform the way victims are looked after. What I’m really pleased about is that people will be able to access the advice even if they don’t want to speak to the police – after all the most important thing is that the victim gets the support they need from whomever is best placed to offer it. I’m sure you’ll hear much more about the integrated victim service when it’s up and running.