Posted: Thursday 9th May 2013
At my swearing in ceremony on 21 November I pledged £200,000 to help communities and voluntary organisations tackle crime and community safety problems. True to that promise, on 1 May I launched the Community Action Fund. This is the time to be creative and innovative, after all, you know your communities better than anyone. We’ll give up to £5000 as long as there is strong community support and a clear, tangible outcome that will help to reduce crime or improve community safety. If your community is concerned about a particular problem, get together, talk to your local beat team, agree what improvements you want to see and get your bid together.
By contrast, on Friday evening I went out with the Roads Policing Unit. They play an incredibly important role in keeping us and our roads safe around the clock. They’re responsible for everything you can imagine and lots you wouldn’t even think of, from forensic criminal investigations at the scene of a collision, to uncovering human trafficking. However, this Bank Holiday weekend, speeding and stopping vehicles with defects took up most of the time.
Later in the weekend at the Bristol 10K run the sun shone and everyone had a wonderful day. I was thrilled and humbled to see so many people running for such good causes. Congratulations to all those who took part! My slow run certainly didn’t win any records but it was great fun to be cheered on by strangers.
This week, I’ve been to London with the Chief Constable to brief our MPs who gave us the time, yet again, to remind them that we need our fair allocation of funding. On my return I was interviewed about changes to the probation service. The Government wants to increase the support and supervision for “revolving door” offenders – those released from prison sentences of under 12 months who go on to reoffend time and time again. But they have to find a way of paying for this. Their solution is to “outsource” all the medium and low risk cases – a large proportion of the probation service’s work – to external providers on a payment by results basis.
Of course, we all have to find ways of doing more for less, and probation is no exception.
But I do have concerns about the risk this may pose to IMPACT, our ground-breaking partnership with probation and other services to support prolific reoffenders in breaking away from a life of crime. Not only has IMPACT demonstrated some real cost benefits, it has also made a massive contribution to bringing down crime, making our communities safer with fewer victims.
Together with our Probation Trust partners, and based on the success of IMPACT, we’ve proposed an alternative pilot approach in Avon and Somerset. We’re watching this space.
Until next time, Sue