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Guest blog: Openly demonstrating accountability to the local people of Avon and Somerset

Posted: Wednesday 18th January 2017
Blog: 2017

When Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens was re-elected in May 2016, she made it clear she was committed to continuing consulting and involving local people in decisions that affect local policing.  An important way of doing this is going out and about and holding public facing meetings to allow residents to attend and put their questions to their PCC and their police service.  Sue has always been clear that her role is about acting as a bridge, connecting local people with the police and wider partners and ensuring residents get a more direct say in policing.  These meetings also openly demonstrate Sue’s public accountability to the local people of Avon and Somerset. 

These PCC Police Public Forums will be held on a quarterly basis in a variety of venues across Avon and Somerset and the next forum is due to be held on Thursday, February 2 2017 at 7pm, in the Council Chamber at South Somerset Council in Yeovil.  The format for each meeting is very straight forward and is designed to inform local people on policing issues in their local area and for them to feel both informed and comfortable to ask questions of Sue, the Chief Constable and the local neighbourhood policing team.

It’s important to Sue to make herself available at a time and location convenient to local people.  When selecting a venue we consider this before approaching a range of possible options from community halls, schools, leisure centres and council buildings. Once we’ve established a venue, we then start to publicise the event putting posters in local community buildings, posting on social media, promoting via Neighbourhood Watches, working with the local neighbourhood policing teams to make residents aware of the meeting, informing the local media and sharing details on the events calendar of the PCC’s website.

In the open forum, attendees have an opportunity to ask questions of Sue and the police. A wide range of questions are raised at these sessions from road safety, police visibility, local anti-social behaviour problems, for example. Notes taken from the question and answer sessions are published on the PCC website following the forum.  Where possible, we also aim to live web stream the forum to give residents who are unable to attend an opportunity to watch the forum live from home or to view the footage at their convenience. We also video record the forum and publish the recording on our website.

In addition to the forums we have introduced bi-monthly live webchat broadcast on Facebook. This is an opportunity for PCC Sue Mountstevens to publically hold the Chief Constable to account, one of her many statutory requirements. Ahead of the 30-minute session, we invite questions from local people that they would like the PCC to put to the Chief before asking them during the webchat.  Following the live session we then publish a recording of the webchat on our website and YouTube channel.

Utilising a social media platform to live stream a webchat not only able us to reach a different audience, but also enables us reach people across Avon and Somerset.  To date, the PCC has hosted two webchats, the first on September 6, 2016, received a positive response reaching over 3,000 views. The topics discussed in this webchat were on hate crime, firearms and body worn video (BWV) and representative workforce. Our second webchat (November 23rd 2016) attracted a similar audience with the topics discussed including vulnerability, domestic abuse, modern slavery, police stations, mobile phones and speeding.

The next webchat will be January 24 at 5-5.30pm and the topics of discussion will be based around a number of themes including fraud, body worn video cameras, tasers and rural crime.  You can submit your questions by emailing them to pcc@avonandsomerset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 01275 816377.  You can also send us your questions on Facebook or on Twitter using the hashtag #PCCinconvo.

This was a joint blog written by Kate Watson, OPCC Office & HR Manager and William Hatfield, OPCC Digital, Events and Engagement Coordinator


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