17 March: Reflections on my term in office
17 March 2021
It has been an honour to serve as Police and Crime Commissioner, and the pinnacle for me of the ability to serve the communities I care about. There has always been one overriding core purpose to my job: From the first day until now, I have sought to add value to keeping you and your family SAFER.
I have felt a personal responsibility for making it possible for the future to be increasingly safer rather than just dealing with what’s in front of us: Sustaining, enhancing, changing and transforming our approaches, and in that common purpose enabling operationally effective policing that continues to defeat those who commit crime and wish us harm, and protects victims and the most vulnerable.
Looking back over the last five years, I believe we have made positive progress with our partners during truly exceptional times.
When I arrived in 2016, I promised each constituent to keep you and your family safer. That year I created my plan. In 2017 my engagement with commissioning partners and testing of the policing requirement to be operationally effective now and into the future had matured. And by 2018 we had progressed to investing in policing, having created opportunities through consistent lobbying for funds, opportunities to invest in the frontline and supporting infrastructure. In 2019 we continued this progress with community support, and this year we will have additional police officers and crime reduction and prevention to keep us safer as per my original promise.
Protecting and investing in policing
In the years that I have had the privilege of doing this important work we have protected and then funded increases in local policing as well as the necessary support and enabling of that.
- Using foresight and maximising opportunities as they presented, we have enabled the recruitment of new officers at scale; and investment in staff and the Contact Management Programme means 101 calls are now answered much more quickly than previously, giving a much better service to the public.
- We have delivered not just one, but two state of the art modern and pioneering Police Investigation Centres, which were an operational imperative to create opportunities for policing to be more efficient as well as more effective. We have also developed much closer working relationships with partners across my area through shared premises.
- Recognising needs and investing at risk has enabled Hampshire Constabulary to be one of the first in the country to make Tasers available to every officer – this has since become a Government priority nationally and attracted welcome additional funding.
- We’ve protected the dedicated Country Watch team for its specific value to our rural communities and invested in enhanced crime prevention and enforcement capability.
- And I have invested in a comprehensive wellbeing programme for our officers and staff, which demonstrated its worth during the pandemic by keeping officers well and on the frontline, ready to serve our communities.
Hampshire Constabulary is today a stronger, more modern, and better equipped force than it was five years ago.
Protecting and supporting victims and the vulnerable
We deliver year on year with a significantly limited but important budget beyond policing. Policing has had over 95% of all the money that I have had year on year and remains underfunded, but with a significantly smaller sum to intervene, to protect victims and the vulnerable we have delivered every year some 70 projects to local communities that make that difference to diversion, prevention and protection of victims and the vulnerable.
To name just a few examples;
- The number of victims of crime being offered support through the Victim Care Service has increased from 28,000 a year to 180,000 a year.
- Restorative Justice is now accessible to all victims of crime.
- There are now more than 70 third party hate crime reporting centres across my area, up from 3 in 2017.
- And our Cyber Ambassador scheme is going from strength to strength, providing free peer-to-peer cyber safety education to more than 25,000 primary and secondary children in my area.
We have successfully sought and fought for grants from central Government – this has mitigated a little of the underfunding from the national formula, and has been really valuable in the area of Violence Reduction Units, Safer Streets Crime Prevention, and Domestic Abuse Services.
Partnerships based on common purpose
Underpinning all of these examples and in fact everything we do is partnership for mutual benefit and common purpose. Sharing common purpose and themes for community protection with partners, seeking always to ensure that taking a whole system approach to delivering outcomes will maximise the benefits for the public.
Motivated by the desire to serve and helping those that can make a difference to people’s lives, as your PCC I have worked full time to deliver for Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton.
I have listened to our communities as I sought to be their champion, formed and reinforced partnerships and relationships with key leaders and stakeholders to promote the best outcomes for our area – to ensure that we had a unique and added value position rather than duplication.
I have been determined in arguing in Whitehall, where resources are delivered and fought for, to create a safe environment for individuals and communities so that they can thrive locally.
Delivering support to our communities has been a central understanding for targeted visible action that creates confidence and reassurance. We’re investing in policing and crime fighting efforts, fighting for fair funding, setting the local council tax, protecting and challenging resources that go to the Chief Constable’s operational plans across individual districts and communities, whether rural or urban, to ensure they are sufficiently funded in a balanced response that recognises risks, vulnerability, and local community priorities.
A plan for continuity in exceptional times
While my Police and Crime Plan 2016/20 remained a valid context for the key intentions I set for the communities I serve, I prepared a new extraordinary Plan for 2020. A Plan for our Safer Futures 2020 – 2022, which builds a bridge to a safer future, protecting all of our communities during the pandemic and beyond.
The plan was developed at pace and in consultation with some of our key stakeholders and commissioned services – and with the voice of the public at its heart.
Progress will be built upon local actions that resonate with the necessary regional and national efforts. We will win by doing what we can together, and by aligning our entire enterprise to the task of recovery and progress to a brighter, hopeful and SAFER future.