With 2021 now in the rear-view mirror, most of us are now looking forward to 2022! It’s been a strange year for most of us, partially overcoming the pandemic but with clear Covid dangers still looming large in the background, particularly over the last couple of weeks.
I’m no epidemiologist and I certainly can’t say how 2022 will pan out, but what I do know is that 2021 was an extremely busy year at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
We started the year with our third national lockdown with small-scale roll-outs of the very first vaccinations starting to get underway, our first real inkling of hope for things to come.
While very few people flouted the rules at this point, there were incidents across the region which were policed extremely well by officers following the four Es - Engaging, Explaining, Encouraging and finally Enforcing.
My office started the year by providing over £200,000 in funding to the Splitz service which helps perpetrators of domestic abuse confront their behaviour and break that cycle of violence and criminality.
A landmark moment of 2021 for this office was commissioning a ground-breaking £20m, 10-year contract with Victim Support to provide a wide range of joined-up services including restorative justice services, sexual assault referral centres and services for victims of non-reported crime.
After unanimous support for my budget proposals in February, March kicked off with a focus on dog thefts as national figures showed an increase in this callous crime. A senior officer was tasked with this brief in Devon and Cornwall and my office met with John Morrilly who was reunited with his loveable pet Lola after she was snatched from outside his barbershop in Perranporth. You can watch the video here.
Also in March, as well as unveiling £350,000 to promote a safe route out of lockdown in the region, we witnessed the culmination of a fantastic project which saw an eco-house constructed by serving prisoners and a man on probation erected in Torquay. As well as providing these men with valuable skills and training, this landmark scheme could be used as a national blueprint to help solve the affordable housing crisis.
May saw the Police and Crime Commissioner elections at which I was re-elected. While I was busy on the campaign trail, the office continued with its vital ‘business as usual’ work which included things like our community grants programme, councillor advocates scheme and Independent Custody Visits.
June began with a successful bid to the Home Office’s Safer Streets for £432,000 to be spent tackling and preventing crime in Exeter, a project we hope will follow in the footsteps of our hugely successful Stronger North Stonehouse scheme in Plymouth.
There was also the little matter of a high-profile international political event as the G7 Summit arrived on the picturesque sea front at Carbis Bay. Looking back at this event now fills me with pride – not only for the thousands of police officers and staff members who ensured the event went off safely and smoothly, but also for the communities in Cornwall who truly demonstrated the spirit of our region at its very best. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event!
Sadly this year also saw two tragic events in Plymouth with the horrifying mass shooting in Keyham in August and the shocking death of Bobbi-Anne McLeod in November, both of which rocked the city to its core.
I’m determined to do what I can to prevent any similar incidents in the future. I’ve consulted widely on UK firearms laws and also become a member of a key panel looking into violence against women and girls in Plymouth. These events - and their victims - must never be forgotten and I have made tackling serious violence one of the four pillars of my new police and crime plan.
A strong theme running throughout the year – and another of my police and crime plan pillars – is road safety. The Vision Zero South West road safety partnership has really hit the ground running this year with several innovative and collaborative initiatives that will make a real difference in Devon and Cornwall.
One of the schemes I’m most proud of is the Call For Ideas which was launched in November and saw the partnership fund 34 community-led road safety projects to the tune of just over £150,000. Communities know their neighbourhoods and the challenges they face best and I was blown away with the level of detail, care and understanding displayed by volunteers and good citizens throughout the region. They deserve every penny!
I couldn’t have achieved everything I have so far without the dedication and support of our residents and communities. My goal remains to make Devon and Cornwall THE safest place in the country and I will continue to work hard to achieve this in 2022. Happy New Year!