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Police and crime commissioners – making a real difference for local communities

In her weekly blog, PCC Alison Hernandez, discusses her first year achievements and ambitious future plans for local policing

As I begin my 2nd year as your Police and Crime Commissioner I have been reflecting on my first 12 months in the role, and the many things that have been achieved in that time.
It has been a difficult period for me with the 2015 general election expenses enquiry continuing.  You will have read my comments a few days ago following the Crown Prosecution Service decision not to charge me and others.

I am naturally delighted that this long running investigation has finally come to an end.  It would be wrong to suggest that I haven’t been affected personally by all the speculation, however I have never let that get in the way of what I was elected to do by more than 91,000 people - to work tirelessly on the public’s behalf to get the best out of the police and keep people safe.
Along with Police and Crime Commissioners all around the country I still get asked all the time about what we actually do, and if we really make a difference.  I understand that public understanding and acceptance of this role is still growing, so I am grateful for this opportunity to write a weekly blog so that I can take the chance to tell you about what is being done on your behalf.  
As I have said before, I believe the police could do more to highlight some of the excellent work they do, which often goes unseen, but benefits us all. I want to put that right, which is why connecting with communities is at the heart of the police and crime plan.
Working closely with the Chief Constable, my number one priority was to produce an innovative and forward thinking plan which better reflects public priorities for policing - after all I am your representative in policing. Our consultation last summer fed directly into the formulation of the plan and I am proud of what it contains and how it gives clear direction for our force.  Connectivity is the clear theme running throughout and the Chief Constable is moving forward with transforming the workforce to deliver it effectively and efficiently.  My plan to make an extra £24 million available for 100 extra police officers, 50 police staff investigators and 30 telephone statement takers.  Together with improved data and IT, this ensures many 1000’s of extra hours are available for officers to be on our streets rather than stuck in stations.  That’s what people tell me they want, and it’s now being delivered.
I am also working hard with my team to influence central government funding decisions for policing in Devon and Cornwall.  We have felt for a while that we get a bad deal, particularly considering the size of our ‘patch', the demands of urban, coastal, rural policing and the influx of millions of summer visitors which we don’t receive any extra funding for. Clearly the general election will delay announcements about this, but, rest assured, I am doing everything I can to influence a positive outcome for policing in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
I have also spent considerable time in my first twelve months developing our strategic alliance with Dorset police and encouraging greater collaborations with our fire services.  This is a great example of how we must work in a much more integrated way in the future, not just with the emergency services, but with partners, groups and organisations in our own area. It is not just about better use of your money, but delivering better services for you.

It is important to me that I get ‘out and about’ with members of my team, and each of them has responsibility for a particular area and feedback any community issues that I can help with.
An example of how this works practically is the issue of anti-social behaviour and CCTV provision.  This is raised constantly, so one member of my team has taken responsibility for working with our communities to provide cameras and bring together monitoring hubs which makes the cost more practical for your local council as well as keeping officers and all of us safer. It’s a £200,000 investment that will reap rewards for us all.
I will avoid the temptation to write a long list of first year achievements, but my top 5 are:
1.    Releasing funds to invest in policing with £24m planned over the next few years including 100 extra officers and 50 police staff investigators
2.     Financing the replacement for the Heavitree Road police station in Exeter to bring our facilities into the 21st Century
3.    Challenging first time offenders through our deferred charge scheme called Pathfinder - Unlocking Futures, with £1.5m investment from the police transformation fund
4.    Helping some of the most vulnerable in our community by taking the lead on the national policing response to modern slavery with £8.5m investment from the police transformation fund
5.    Providing new services for children who have been sexually abused and need help to overcome their trauma. It part of our wider Victim Care unit where I use your money to fund £4 million local services  
I take my responsibilities very seriously and would love to have your involvement too. If you have any ideas about how to make your community safer, more resilient and better connected with policing and want some help then please get in touch.
Alison Hernandez