As your Police and Crime Commissioner, I want to ensure the police are accessible and tackle the crimes that matter most to you.
The Constabulary typically handles just under one million calls for service in a year. Cuts in funding to other organisations have resulted in increased calls and pressure on the police. In the past year, the service local people have received when calling the police has not been as good as I would have liked, and I am working with the police to address this. Investment in technology will support the management of police time and in turn increase the visibility of officers on patrols. During my election campaign I received feedback regarding the closure of police stations. I have reflected on this and asked the Constabulary to re-evaluate their estates strategy. The Chief Constable and I are both clear on the Constabulary’s commitment to serving our communities, while being aware of the need to be more efficient and cost-effective with our buildings. I will ensure that options around closures and alternative locations are clearly communicated and that the impact.
I will ask the Constabulary to take a flexible approach to local policing, focusing on the priorities raised by you. Priorities vary across communities but the most typical are road safety, ASB, drug crime and burglary.
Feedback from partner and community meetings and data from the call centre makes clear that ASB is commonly an issue affecting local residents where police intervention is wanted. I recognise that ASB can have a serious impact on daily life. The Constabulary’s Local Policing teams have been found to be good at preventing crime and ASB by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). However, I want to see an improvement in the outcomes for victims.
I am concerned that the numbers of burglaries in the area has risen over the past year. This is an issue that is affecting the South West generally and I want to see the Constabulary do more, working with partners, to prevent burglaries, to prosecute more offenders and to recover more property and proceeds of crime. Investigative standards from the first opportunity to secure forensic evidence, through to the completion of investigation and preparation of cases need to be improved to achieve this.
Illegal drug use is a significant factor in acquisitive crime, ASB, offences of violence and even those offences involving extremism. The harm caused by illegal drugs are significant, wide-ranging and costly and they are a major issue of local concern.
The impact of illegal drugs is at all levels of criminality so it is essential that the enforcement of drug offences is tackled in a joined up way by those teams dealing with “street level” drugs and those dealing with organised crime. All levels of illegal drug criminality have a negative impact on our communities and over recent years Avon and Somerset Constabulary have shown the success that can be achieved when allowing the community to take a full and active role in drug enforcement activity.
To continue to impact on these offences the Constabulary will concentrate on those drugs that cause the most harm to our communities. Improved intelligence gathering and sharing between Neighbourhood Policing Teams and the Intelligence Directorate will ensure that all levels of drug criminality will be monitored and acted against. Working together with our partners and communities and combining education, enforcement and treatment will give the Constabulary the best opportunity of diverting offenders away from problematic drug use.
I understand that road safety is a very important issue to local people. The risk of being killed or seriously injured on Avon and Somerset roads is lower than most other parts of the country. However, it continues to be a concern raised by residents. I will therefore ensure that I have clear oversight of the Constabulary’s road safety strategy and ensure the Constabulary involve partners and communities in making our roads as safe as possible.
I want to ensure everyone has an opportunity to support our Plan. The Constabulary want to promote more productive relationships with the community. I want to see an increase in the number of people joining the Special Constabulary and volunteering to support the Constabulary through groups such as Neighbourhood Watch, Farm Watch and Community SpeedWatch. I will continue to support rural crime and business crime forums.
The aim of this is to strengthen community safety, and improve accountability and communication between Neighbourhood Watch and the police. Neighbourhood Watch volunteers provide invaluable support to the police and local communities and ensuring they are effectively supported is vital. Volunteering provides opportunities to gain valuable skills and experience, to meet new people and work as part of a team, while making a positive contribution to your local community. Find out more on Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s website. These contributions, supported by the Local Policing teams, can make a real difference to communities.
I want to improve crime prevention and reduce reoffending. Prolific offenders are identified and targeted by an innovative multi-agency approach which was pioneered in Avon and Somerset. The Constabulary looks for opportunities to continuously improve and is currently developing their model of offender management. They are also considering perpetrator programmes that support people to fundamentally change their behaviour. Cyber-enabled crime is increasing in line with technological advances and is used in several crime types such as fraud, drug crime, domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation. The Constabulary will adopt a consistent and robust approach to offenders that will seek to identify them at the earliest opportunity and disrupt their criminal activity.
I want to improve victims’ satisfaction with the services they receive. I will work closely with the police and partners to ensure that victims experience high quality, joined-up, support that is tailored to their needs and that the voice of the victim continues to be heard in the criminal justice system. Restorative justice – which brings together those harmed by crime or anti-social behaviour and those responsible for the harm – empowers the victim by providing an opportunity to explain the real impact of the crime. I am keen to see an increase in the offer and take up of restorative justice because government research shows that restorative justice has a positive impact on victim satisfaction and reducing reoffending. I will ensure all the services I commission will support victims in a way that helps victims to cope and recover from their experience. The police must consistently identify, protect and support victims and deliver the service promise.