When I was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner in 2016 I felt it important to do everything I could to inform the public about the PCC’s role and, just as importantly, the work of the office that supports it.
It was very clear to me that most people had little understanding of what a PCC does!
How, as an elected representative, I engage the public to set the strategic direction for the Force, set priorities for the chief constable and hold him to account, monitor police performance, commission services, represent victims – it’s a long list. This lack of understanding isn’t the public’s fault – I am not sure that prior to my arrival enough had been done to inform people what we did.
So one of the first things I insisted on was production of a full and informative annual report and I am pleased to say that we have just published the latest version on the OPCC website.
This is my third annual report since taking up office in May 2016 and I am proud to be able to share with residents of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly some of the achievements that have been made by my office and by the police in that time.
My Police and Crime Plan was designed to create safer, more resilient and better connected communities. It has now been in place for two years and I am pleased that a huge amount has been achieved with these goals in mind.
In this report – which police and crime commissioners have a statutory duty to produce – people are able to read about and better understand improvements that have been made. It goes into detail about why I decided not to support the proposed merger between Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police.
There is a feature on why towns of all shapes and sizes are getting state-of-the-art new CCTV systems.
Tri-service safety officers in Cornwall and community responders in Devon, are providing a working bridge between police, fire and ambulance services, and making a real difference to rural communities and the report has a focus on their roles. There is a full explanation of the investment made to make our region’s roads safer and how our commissioning work means mentally unwell people are now more likely to be treated rather than incarcerated. And finally there is a very interesting article about how we’re helping to get prison leavers in work to help close the revolving door of reoffending.
The report re-emphasises how the continued support of council taxpayers the police force is in a stronger position than it was when I came to office in 2016, with an increased budget that will sustain an additional 176 more officers in December 2021 than there were in March 2017.
As a PCC who has been and is committed to providing the resources that enables our force to grow I am pleased the publication coincides with the Government’s commitment to putting national resources on the table.
I speak to a huge number of people across our force area and overwhelmingly they understand that by investing in the front line you can prevent crimes from happening in the first place, and it’s from that we build safer communities.
I believe the Government recognises the challenges of policing rural communities - for too long forces like ours have been under-invested in when compared to those in purely urban areas.
My police colleagues and I now have to lay the groundwork to ensure that we have the training capacity in place to welcome in more new recruits and plan for their deployment. This is great news for police officers, those wanting to become police officers and our communities.
Increasing the number of police officers in Devon and Cornwall, and commissioning to reduce crime are common sense solutions that will keep us all safer and ultimately save public money.
I believe I have set an agenda and direction that will help it remain that way.
You can read the latest annual report here:
Alternatively you can contact my office at OPCC@devonandcornwall.pnn.police to request a copy.