Posted: Thursday 5th April 2018
Following the re-election of Sue Mountstevens as Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset in May 2016, she published her ambitions for the force area. The Police and Crime Plan sets out her priorities and the objectives she has set the Constabulary for the next four years. Protecting victims of the crimes such as domestic and sexual abuse has long been important to her, and now in this new Plan protecting the most vulnerable is clearly stated as her top priority.
By aiming to protect the most vulnerable from harm, Sue is setting a challenge for Avon and Somerset. This priority aims to improve services for victims of crime and vulnerable people in contact with the criminal justice service, including victims of:
• Child Abuse including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
• Exploitation including modern slavery and child (sexual) exploitation
• Domestic abuse, including so called ‘honour’ based abuse
• Sexual abuse
• People experiencing a mental health crisis come into contact with the Police
• Hate crime
Under these crime types sit a number of objectives which collectively seek to reduce victimisation, provide a better service to the public and bring more offenders to justice. As well as informing the work of the Constabulary, the Plan is an important document for prioritising the work of the Office of the PCC (OPCC). Each priority is assigned a SLT lead and Strategic Priority 1 (SP1) is led by the Head of Commissioning and Partnerships Marc Hole, working with members of the OPCC. OPCC colleagues come together monthly to keep track of progress including:
Scrutiny of the Constabulary – current risks and issues facing delivery of the Plan are reviewed and we consider if anything needs to be escalated to the Police and Crime Board. The monthly Police and Crime Board is the PCC’s principal mechanism to hold the Chief Constable to account for delivery of the Plan. SP1 features at every other Board meeting given the significance and breadth of the priority. Alongside this, the OPCC has an important role to play day-to-day working alongside Constabulary colleagues to maintain informal oversight. This often leads to joint working on issues that the OPCC can help to resolve.
OPCC activities – there are many ways that the OPCC supports delivery of the plan over and above scrutiny. Commissioning services for victims is a significant element of SP1 and specifically helps to meet the objective of ensuring the ‘provision of services to enable victims to cope and recover’. We also work in partnership with a range of agencies who have a stake in delivering the plan. One example is our work to implement the mental health control room triage service which sees mental health professionals based within the police control room, offering advice and support to police officers who come into contact within individuals with mental health issues, ensuring they receive the help and support they require. This service was jointly commissioned by the OPCC, four CCGs and Avon Fire and Rescue Service. The work which came out of this led to the project which is now ongoing to review the entire pathway across a huge range of partners and stakeholders.
The PCC meets a wide range of people as part of her role and the team will undertake the necessary research to ensure that she is fully briefed for any meeting she has relating to SP1. The PCC also has a voice nationally and is keen to further her ambitions for this priority by engaging with government and other bodies. For example, the PCC has lobbied for some time including jointly with Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees to call for Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education to become statutory, which has now been achieved and will be a significant driver to prevent future harm. The PCC also works alongside fellow PCCs as a member of the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network to hold national agencies to account and raise issues on behalf of Avon and Somerset.
It is clear that protecting the most vulnerable from harm is not only the business of a few but important for us all. These crimes are so impactful and sadly so prevalent that they are everyone’s business and we all have a part to play in protecting the most vulnerable from harm. If you would like to get in touch with the OPCC about this priority or share how you are helping to deliver the Plan please get in touch.
Marc Hole, Head of Commissioning and Partnerships
Alice Jones, Senior Commissioning and Policy Officer
Amy Hurst, Senior Commissioning and Policy Officer