Helping the Force transform for the future
In my four decades' experience of policing, I have never seen a time of so much change.
The last five years have been marked not just by increases in the levels of demand that police forces face, but by the complexity of the issues individual officers have to deal with on a daily basis.
Nationally, we’ve seen an explosion in problems like modern slavery, human trafficking and knife crime – things that weren’t on the policing agenda just a few years ago.
While we don’t suffer from anywhere like the levels of violent crime experienced in other parts of the country, Dorset is far from immune.
County lines – a term many people wouldn’t even have heard a few years ago – has become a major concern, with drug dealers coming in from big cities, exploiting young people and vulnerable adults in the process.
I created my Police and Crime Plan back in 2016, based on thousands of interactions with Dorset residents, to form the heart of all activity carried out by my office and Dorset Police.
Because it was clear back then that some big changes were coming down the track, a section of this plan was called Transforming For The Future – setting out a series of pledges outlining how I intended to help the Force do just that.
This is all about supporting the Force to be in a better position to deal with these changes and face these new threats head on. It’s about using technology better, using the resources at our disposal more smartly and making the most of the talent we have within the Force.
I’m very pleased to say that after years of hard work these pledges have now been achieved.
They include projects such as introducing body worn video (BWV) for all frontline officers and Special Constables. These wearable video and audio recording devices not only improve the evidence gathering ability of the police, they also make officers’ actions more accountable by providing an unbiased record of what that officer has experienced – particularly during domestic abuse and public order scenarios.
BWV was introduced in a pilot scheme in Bournemouth in 2016, after which it was phased in across the county, with officers having it as part of their kit by the summer of 2019 – in part funded by money raised through my precept setting responsibilities.
Another example of taking advantage of technology was a commitment to invest in more advanced drones. I set up a trial of the use of drones in my first term of office, demonstrating their value in hard to reach locations to search for missing people, deal with rural crime and provide support in armed response incidents.
Following the success of this trial, we worked with our Alliance partners in Devon and Cornwall to set up the country’s first dedicated drone unit.
Improvements to IT systems have enabled vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime to give evidence remotely, rather than face the additional stress of having to attend court, and have also meant police officers have to spend less time travelling to and from hearings – freeing them up to carry out other duties.
We have also worked to achieve commitments around increasing the resources available to frontline policing, making sure public money is well spent and ensuring any debt is minimised, as well as supporting the health and wellbeing of our officers and staff and helping develop innovative ways to encourage the best people to enter the Force.
I’m confident that by achieving these pledges, we have helped make Dorset Police better able to cope with the demands of a rapidly changing world and keep our county’s residents safe. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone in my team and across Dorset Police who have worked so hard to achieve these goals and transform the Force.