Posted: Friday 6th July 2018
Hot and dry British summers are a rarity and for anyone who knows how much I despise the cold, the warm weather we’re having is very welcome. I do appreciate however for those working during this time, in particular those working in uniform, how the heatwave is more than a little uncomfortable. As we enter the summer period, we continue to face policing budget and resource challenges. The demand of seasonal events, policing the crowds the World Cup brings to our city and supporting President Trump’s impending visit to the UK has resulted in staff being put on 12 hour shifts. This means that rest days and requests for time off have been cancelled; and those who had planned leave for weddings and family events are now being refused. As your policing service, Avon and Somerset Constabulary have a duty of care to keep our communities safe and will continue to do so, however this does come at a cost.
We sadly continue to pay the price of significant cuts to central Government funding of policing over the past eight years. As your PCC I continue to do all I can to economise at the request of central Government, yet support the Constabulary in meeting the complex demand and prolonged pressure they continue to face. Despite the latest settlement in December 2017, we are already thinking about speaking with local residents about once again raising the policing part of the council tax to help maintain officer numbers and deal with anticipated further demands. Regardless of the situation we are facing, your officers will continue to keep our communities’ safe and feeling safe and ensure that you are able to enjoy all our summer brings. If you do however see them out and about in the community and they look a little hot and bothered, I’ve no doubt they would appreciate some water and a friendly face.
Over the coming months my team and I will once again be out and about attending various local summer events, as well as hosting my regular community surgeries. On July 23, I will be hosting a public drop-in at the Market House in Ilminster between 2-4pm and on August 17 my team and I will be at the Dunster Show, alongside the Constabulary and our wider partners. We will be speaking to local people on how you would like your policing pounds to be spent and what your local policing priorities are. Contact with local people is essential to improving policing and attending events such as these gives me an extensive insight into what is happening in our local communities. Only by listening to local people and finding out more about what’s going on in our communities can we make sure that the police are concentrating on the things that matter most to you as residents.
Finally, I began this week hearing about the Constabulary’s Call Centre winning Large In-House Contact Centre of the Year at this year’s prestigious South West Contact Centre Forum Awards. Not only that, but Call Centre Manager Becky Tipper also won Contact Centre Manager of the Year for the way in which she leads her team, with care and dedication. This is an incredible achievement for Becky and all of the call centre team and they should feel very proud of themselves. The individuals who make up the call centre team are the first-line of response when you make an emergency ‘999’ call or a non-emergency ‘101’ call. They are the people who will talk you through and get you the appropriate help in possibly your greatest time of need. Together they have also reduced call abandonment rates for 101 and 999 calls to an all-time low. Huge congratulations and very well deserved.