Response To Home Affairs Select Committee Report - PCC Progress To Date
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill
We are facing unprecedented times in policing. The budgetary challenges that we and every Force across the country are facing are huge. We are expected to deliver more for less. We need to think creatively in order to protect frontline services. Police and Crime Commissioners are the new blood in a new world, operating in a less than forgiving landscape which I agree, needs further definition. I would echo the words of Kent PCC Ann Barnes in that ‘we are all trying to do things in different ways’. This makes our work harder to judge, but then our agendas and the communities we serve, vary significantly. What is fundamentally clear is that we are effectively engaging with our communities. I hold 25 forums a year and have direct contact with thousands through public meetings, surgeries and correspondence. We want to engage, and are engaging.
We are further narrowing the gap between the police and the public by boosting volunteer numbers and using innovative solutions such as multi-agency software platforms to enhance communication. Working together with partners has always been my philosophy and in difficult economic times, it is essential.
This leads me to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s recommendation to strengthen the role of the Police and Crime Panels. In Dorset, I would argue that we have taken huge steps to involve our panel in our decision making processes. For example, last Friday the Dorset Police and Crime Panel received an update from my Chief Executive, who is involving the panel in our discussions on whether or not a Strategic Alliance with Devon and Cornwall is the right approach. They have a role in helping us to shape future policy. Whether to go ahead with a Strategic Alliance is the biggest decision in my term of office and it is only right that the panel are involved in that process.
I would also agree that the process of appointing a deputy Police and Crime Commissioner must be transparent. I support the Committee’s recommendations for the 2016 election prospective Commissioner candidates to be required to name their intended deputy, so that they are elected on the same ticket. I believe that deputy PCCs can play an important role in supporting this very busy and full role but that is something the public should be aware of in their selection.
The concept of Police and Crime Commissioners is still in its infancy. However, I do believe that we are changing the landscape for the better. PCCs across the country are giving victims a voice and working hard to improve their journey. Last year I opened the Dorset Victims Bureau. Next year, it will become the first multi-agency victims bureau in the country. I am still learning, defining and developing my role in serving the people of Dorset but I am determined to listen and innovate to the best of my ability over the rest of my term in office. I welcome the debate which this report will generate.
As always, I welcome your views. E.mail me firstname.lastname@example.org