Create a vulnerable person's directorate
The PCC has identified that policing alone cannot protect vulnerable people and an approach has to be made in partnership, potentially with partners pooling resources, budgets and staff to protect those most at risk.
A vulnerable person’s directorate, covering children and adults, remains a long-term aspiration and is something the PCC pledged to work towards during this term of office.
This chimes with the ambition of the Chief Constable and PCC for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire & Rescue (HMICFRS) to class Dorset Police as ‘outstanding’ in their support of vulnerable people.
While it was always anticipated that creating an all age vulnerability hub by the end of the PCC’s term would be unlikely, much work has been done to progress the local response to those at risk or vulnerable to harm. This activity has been at both the strategic and operational level and includes:
Pan-Dorset strategy – The Local Safeguarding Children Board for Dorset is working on a Pan-Dorset partnership strategy for protecting children and young people at risk of harm and exploitation. The PCC will continue to influence and lobby for this to be developed further into an ‘all-age’ approach.
Place-based approach to shared priorities – The PCC has written to the Dorset Public Services Forum requesting they adopt a unified, area based approach, which would see partnerships, resources and funding used as most appropriate to each area’s needs. Agencies would also better collaborate and share data. Currently, there is a lack of common understanding of the communities’ needs, with each agency spending too much time managing the same people, many of whom are vulnerable and have complex needs.
Criminal exploitation of the vulnerable – Much attention has been devoted to county lines drug networks and their exploitation of young people and vulnerable adults. The PCC helped fund Operation Galaxy in Bournemouth, targeting premises involved in criminal and anti social behaviour, and safeguarding vulnerable individuals whose properties have been taken over by drug dealers, in so-called ‘cuckooing’. The PCC also held a county lines problem solving forum and as a result funded a pan-Dorset child exploitation transformation lead post – now recruited by Dorset Council – to co-ordinate responses, including working with adult safeguarding leads as vulnerable young people reach adulthood.
Appropriate adult provision – With police and local authority colleagues, the OPCC has undertaken a review of the current Appropriate Adult (AA) provision for Dorset. Appropriate Adults are responsible people aged over 18 who must be called by police to be present when officers detain or interview a child or vulnerable adult. The review follows concerns over the availability and quality of AAs, particularly out of hours. The initial report and recommendations have broadly been accepted and include a proposal to pilot a short-term alternative model for the young people’s AA service. Ultimately, if the pilot proves successful, the PCC would like to explore with partners the scope for commissioning a pan-Dorset, pan-age service in the longer term.
PCC funding – The PCC has provided funding and support to a number of schemes addressing vulnerable communities. These include a Bournemouth street sex worker case manager, advisors to help victims of crime with learning disabilities navigate the criminal justice system, the drug and alcohol intervention programme led by Public Health Dorset, the Maple Project support for high risk victims of domestic abuse, as well as The Shores sexual assault referral centre and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors. Funding has also been agreed for a pilot project by The Horse Course to work with vulnerable individuals, including those regularly reported missing and victims of cuckooing.
Community grants – The Commissioner has also provided a number of smaller community grants to support local projects working in areas including homelessness, mental health, learning disabilities, abuse, drug and alcohol education, stalking, LGBT and vulnerable children and young people.