Posted: Friday 28th September 2018
I had the pleasure in attending the latest police graduation ceremony at Police and Fire Headquarters, Portishead, last Friday. It’s a joy to go to these services and see the pride in the police officers passing out in front of their families and loved ones. As I talk to them I am impressed by their genuine commitment to make a difference and to serve local people.
This year is the start of an exciting two-year recruitment drive to strengthen local policing and the recent intake is part of Avon and Somerset Police’s target to recruit 600 officers by 2020, subject to Government and local council tax funding. This is the largest increase in new police officers since 2008 and shows residents that we value local policing and we’re investing in frontline officers.
It is also a very real demonstration of where your money is being spent. If it wasn’t for local people agreeing to increase the policing part of the council tax by £1, we would not be able to recruit new officers and we would not be holding these graduation services. Since April the force has recruited 120 new police officers. We are also recruiting new Police Community Support Officers (PCSO’s) increasing our capability to support local neighbourhood policing.
The latest intakes of new police officers and PCSO’s to join the service come from a very diverse range of ages and backgrounds so it was interesting to hear what motivated them to join and how they see themselves serving their communities. We’re welcoming people with a wide range of skills and knowledge that will undoubtedly enhance the frontline capabilities of Avon and Somerset Police. I know that residents will be very glad to see these new recruits patrolling our streets and I too look forward to meeting them over the coming months.
The ‘and crime’ part of my role as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is not always as easy to explain to local people. The role for PCC’s within the criminal justice system is limited compared to policing, however influencing and improving the service for victims and breaking the cycle of crime for offenders is a real objective of mine over this coming term. Last week, I was invited to London to meet David Gauke MP, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor. I was representing the South West PCC’s to talk about the ways we can improve the Probation Service on tackling reoffending. We can do a lot more to improve the system based on local knowledge and to try and stop offenders going in and out of prison. The revolving door of prison is not working and by reforming criminals and turning them away from a life of crime we will break the cycle. This will mean fewer crimes, fewer victims and safer communities. I hope to share more with residents over the coming months.
This Sunday is Police Memorial Day; a national day of remembrance founded following the brutal killing of fellow Kent Police officer Jon Odell in December 2000. The event is always a reminder of the risks police officers and staff undertake every time they are on duty and how they go above and beyond to keep us safe and feeling safe in our communities. It is always a privilege meeting with the families and friends of the fallen and to take the time to remember and honour those who served their communities; passing on our personal heartfelt thanks.