Posted: Friday 2nd August 2019
Last week, Boris Johnson moved into Number 10 Downing Street and became our new Prime Minister. As he stepped into his new home, he formalised a promise he had made during his campaign; to recruit 20,000 more police officers to make our streets safer. This a commitment that I very much welcome.
We’ve had to deal with years of funding cuts and had to make £78 million worth of savings, all while protecting officer numbers wherever possible and dealing with increasingly more complex and serious crime. If the Prime Minister keeps his promise, it will ease the pressure on officers and teams in our area as well as improving outcomes for victims. Local people often say to me that they want to see more officers in their villages, towns and cities and an increase in numbers would reassure our communities and keep our streets feeling safe.
Avon and Somerset Police is in a great position in terms of learning and development opportunities for new recruits, especially with the launch of the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA). Accredited by the College of Policing and launched this year, the PCDA is being rolled out across the country. Avon and Somerset Police is the first force in the South West to move its initial police learning to the PCDA, partnering with UWE to offer a rewarding learning experience to our new recruits as well as a starting salary of £20k. Apprentice officers will spend around three quarters of their time learning on the job and the rest studying or in the classroom, becoming familiar with the skills they need to do the job.
This is a great opportunity for individuals to pursue a varied and interesting role as part of the force, while gaining a qualification at the same time. Local people deserve the best officers on our streets to keep us safe and the new apprenticeship prepares, trains and supports officers to deal with the complex crimes they will face as part of their role. I also hope that the new training and the opportunity to gain a higher education qualification will encourage a wide range of people who might not have considered a career in policing to apply and make a difference in our communities.
I’ve been reflecting on the exceptionally busy summer we’ve been experiencing and I was delighted when I heard about the swift response from the force’s Special Constabulary at the weekend. A decision was made to call on the Special Constabulary to help with demand and 18 Special Constables reported for duty within 30 minutes. This was an exceptional response and brought the total number of Specials on duty on Saturday to 45. I want to thank them for their dedication and we are very fortunate to be able to count on their service.
Finally, the Chief Constable and I were delighted to unveil the new and permanent home for Southmead police station at Southmead Hospital. The future of policing is about being located with our partners, where local people can access multiple services under one roof and make the best use of the police’s accessibility and resources. From speaking to local people, I know how important it is to them to have a policing presence in Southmead and the new site at Westgate House will ensure the police are where they are most needed, in the heart of the community.