Message from PCC Martyn Underhill
I welcome the proposals that have been put forward today.
I know that Dorset’s Chief Constable Debbie Simpson and Devon & Cornwall Police’s Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer are considering a closer working relationship between the two forces as they are keen to explore any option that might help us to best tackle criminality and to support victims.
I, along with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, will be working with them both over the months to come to understand how such a move could help us to keep our communities safe across the three counties. Naturally, I will make sure any decision that is reached is fully informed by the opinion of the public that I serve.
I have made no secret about my concerns regarding police funding and the difficulties faced by forces during a time of ever-complex and increasing demand. However, that does not mean that we should stop working tirelessly to make the best use of taxpayers’ money.
In my Police and Crime Plan, launched earlier this year, I stressed that we must be prepared to transform for the future and I also pledged that I will continue to ensure that public money is respected and spent wisely. The Strategic Alliance with Devon & Cornwall Police, the first in the country to be PCC led, has been a key part of this approach and we will continue to look at ways that we can work with partner agencies and other regional forces to deal with emerging and evolving threats, such as child sexual exploitation, terrorism, cyber-crime and abuse of the elderly.
I consulted widely across Dorset last year when I set the policing priorities. Dorset residents told me that, aside from transformation, they wanted to ensure that Dorset Police protected people at risk of harm, worked with our communities, and supported victims and witnesses. I believe that combining our two forces has the potential to help us achieve all of these priorities by improving efficiency, sharing best practice, and increasing our resilience. As we take this work forward, I am aware that local policing will be of paramount concern to the people of Dorset and I assure you that I will be looking to understand how closer working relationship between the two forces might improve local policing and help us to make Dorset even safer.
This process will likely take a number of years and is certainly not something that the two forces will rush into. It is clear that there is a great deal more work required to understand the potential opportunities and challenges that this proposal might bring. Equally, we will need to seek the views of our communities and ensure that feedback is listened to and understood. As soon as the timeline for this work becomes clearer I will, of course, share this with you.
Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner