Posted: Monday 18th May 2020
This week, PCC Sue Mountstevens is taking a well-earned break and, as the new Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner (DPCC), I will be taking the reins. As you can imagine, since becoming Deputy four weeks ago, it has been extremely busy ensuring the police and partners feel supported during these uncertain times.
As this is the first time Avon and Somerset has had a Deputy PCC, I wanted to give a flavour of how I will be supporting the PCC and Avon and Somerset Police. Here’s a few things I will be overseeing this week in the PCC’s absence:
- Co-chair a meeting of the Local Criminal Justice Board which brings together regional representatives of the Courts, Crown Prosecution Service, probation, prisons, defence solicitors and voluntary sector victim organisations. We will discuss the restarting of Crown Court trials this week and working together to improve the experience for victims;
- Host a Facebook Live event which gives local people an opportunity to ask questions of the Chief Constable on policing during the crisis – a number of local people have said to me how helpful they find these sessions;
- Participate in a conference call with the Policing Minister and PCCs across the country – issues discussed will include the criminal court backlog and how we can work together to protect vulnerable people at home during the crisis;
- Host a meeting with the Mayor of Bristol and leaders of local authorities discussing public health issues, policing the virus regulations and issues such as the opening of waste recycling sites;
- Provide a weekly brief to Members of Parliament and also send out a regular stakeholder briefing jointly with the Chief Constable; and
- Get involved in a number of other internal and external meetings.
As well as supporting the team and Avon and Somerset Police in the PCC’s absence, Sue has asked me to lead on a number of PCC work streams and priorities over the next year. These include:
- Working with the police and other partners to redesign police and crime services in the new normal as we gradually emerge from the virus restrictions;
- Leading our local work to reduce reoffending working with probation, prison services, local authorities and charities to provide support to offenders leaving prison to reduce reoffending rates;
- Reducing serious violence and knife crime especially amongst young people by working with the 5 violence reduction units that we have set up across the area;
- One final area Sue wants me to focus on is engagement with our communities.
This was the first weekend for our local communities under the revised virus regulations which came into effect last week. I visited Trinity Road police station on Friday evening and spent some time with the Easton Neighbourhood Policing team so I was able to see how people are responding. It was reassuring to see that Easton and the surrounding area was very quiet. The overwhelming feeling was of local residents observing the new regulations, showing a lot of common sense and taking personal responsibility – just as the Chief Constable called for on the Facebook Live event last week.
It was also good to spend some time with the local officers. While a number of us have been complying with the regulations by staying at home they have been coming into work and working hard to keep our communities safe. I spoke to a couple of officers with young children who described their feelings after returning from a shift and not knowing whether to hug their children or not. Their dedication and bravery are inspirational and this has been seen across the Avon and Somerset area and across the country.
I was delighted that a local beat manager introduced me to a community leader on Friday night and I talked to her over her garden fence about the work she is doing with local residents to address community safety issues in her area. I am keen to meet local people across the Avon and Somerset area who want to strengthen their communities – please do contact me if you would like to meet up, virtually or face-to-face (with social distancing measures in place), and find out how we can support you.
You can contact me on twitter @John_PCC or via email PCC@avonandsomerset.police.uk