With the arrival of a new Chief Constable, a budget for the next financial year unanimously approved and plans to open six more police stations across Devon and Cornwall progressing well, there has been a lot of focus recently on the policing element of my job.
But this week I’d like to draw your attention to the equally important role I have in commissioning services to prevent crime and help victims recover.
These proposals are laid out in my Commissioning Intentions Plan – a publicly available document which explains how I raise the money for these essential services and gives clarity and transparency on our spending.
Some of that spending relates to my legal duty to provide services for all victims of crime across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, but it also supports work to reduce violence, antisocial behaviour, drugs use and improve road safety – the community priorities laid out in the 2021-25 Police and Crime Plan.
Getting these services right is absolutely vital. The right approach to early intervention to prevent crime from happening in the first place can work wonders, and when crime does happen, we must ensure that those affected feel that the right support to them is accessible, timely and of high quality. Which ultimately supports being able to secure a successful conviction in court.
In the year to April 2022, the last year for which figures are available, there were 70,709 victims of crime identified by Devon and Cornwall Police and 41,112 victims supported by services I commission.
In that year the Serious Violence Prevention Partnership – established two years ago to combat a worrying rise in violent crime - supported 1,890 young people and funded 30 projects.
Commissioning also supports core policing activity. For example, a new service was recently established which focuses on supporting registered sex offenders to reduce reoffending and change behaviours. This has been so successful last year that I intend to increase our investment in this service to support more people.
The total funding for our commissioned services in the next financial year will be £9.2m. More than a third of this money will go towards Victim Support, a professional charity which delivers high quality services to victims of crime. In a long term strategic partnership with my office.
But I will always ensure there is funding available for the smaller organisations who play such a vital role in our communities, particularly relating to helping young people. This funding is via a community grant scheme and a fund made up from the sale of property seized from criminals.
While these sums may be relatively small, I never underestimate the impact they can have, because the money goes to those who understand and care most about where they live.
In Cornwall alone this funding round has just seen a total of £49,565 awarded to 16 community groups, with grants ranging from £1,500 to £5,000. There was a broad range of groups awarded in this round, including Wild Young Parents Project, Youth Cafes Cornwall CIC and West Cornwall Women’s Aid.
Although the Devon round of funding for the current year is now closed, there is still time for Cornish organisations who can help reduce antisocial behaviour related to drug use to bid for grants of between £1,000 and £5,000. This might be done by providing workshops to help people understand the dangers of drugs or counselling, advice and support for those involved in illegal drug taking.
Details of how to do this are available from my office or the Cornwall Community Foundation.
If you have been a victim of crime and would like information on practical and emotional support then please contact Victim Support on 08 08 16 89 111 or www.victimsupport.org.uk.
You can read the Commissioning Intentions Plan for 2023-24 here.