David Sidwick’s blog – my first 100 days (part two)
It’s a huge honour and a privilege to take up the role as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset.
Now I’ve been in the role for 100 days, I want to continue to tell you about what I’ve been doing to make our county safer.
Many of you will know I formed an early plan of activity I wanted to carry out around the priorities Dorset’s residents and businesses told me was important to them.
I’ve already written about what I’ve done around the first three areas – cutting crime and anti-social behaviour, making policing more visible and connected and fighting violent crime and high harm.
Here, I’m going to provide some information about what we’ve been doing around another three important areas.
Fighting rural crime
Dorset is a proudly rural county, and from the outset I wanted to do something to help those agricultural and other isolated communities who have in the past felt overlooked.
That’s why I’m delighted to be able to tell you now that we have an initial commitment to shortly double the rural crime team and both I and the Chief Constable have a shared ambition to significantly increase this further in the coming months and years.
We’re also scoping the crime risk across Dorset, including in around small towns and villages, so the Force has a deeper understanding of the issues affecting these communities and how resources can be used more effectively.
And I have already begun discussions to expand the concept of watches. Our Neighbourhood Watch and Community Speed Watch teams do a fantastic job, with dedicated volunteers helping make their communities safer.
I want to introduce the concept of Parish Watches who will perform similar roles in rural areas and we will be holding a meeting in the autumn, bringing together senior officers, members of existing watch groups and representatives of rural organisations, to talk about how we can best bring this idea to fruition.
Finally, discussions have taken place with the Force around ensuring there is a robust and appropriate use of police powers to deal with illegal and unauthorised encampments, including supporting the existing and proposed transit sites.
Putting victims and communities first
Victims of crime and communities must be at the centre of our thinking – it is for these people that we do our work.
As PCC, I have a responsibility to provide support for victims of crime and I’ve begun by reviewing the services we commission here in Dorset to make sure they are as good as possible.
There are also many members of our communities who can be forgotten about, and I want to ensure we represent and give a voice to everyone.
I’m very keen to make sure all our communities know that hate crime of any kind will not be tolerated in our county, as well as that people know where to go for support if they should be unfortunate enough to experience it.
This includes ensuring that people with learning difficulties and other disabilities understand what hate crime is and know they should never have to put up with it, and work is underway with our partners to make sure we get those messages out to the right audiences, in the right way.
Making every penny count
I will never forget that ultimately, it’s your money I’m spending, so this priority area is about resourcing and transforming the front line and reducing administration.
It involves the governance and audit structures surrounding the Force and my own office – and reviews of both are now underway.
But it also involves one of the biggest decisions any PCC will have to make – recruiting a new Chief Constable, and I’m very pleased to have achieved this within my first 100 days. I wanted to make sure we got someone who brings a huge range of experience, who understands a wide range of policing areas as well as the different communities we have across Dorset.
That’s why I’m very pleased that we now have Chief Constable Scott Chilton who has these things as well as the necessary grip to deliver on the priorities that you have told me are important to you.
Work is just getting started
This is just a summary of what has been going on in those three areas, but there is a huge amount of work that has taken place behind the scenes.
It’s important to say this is just the start. I’ve been keen to get things done during my first 100 days, but there is a long road ahead of us.
I’m preparing to launch my Police and Crime Plan this autumn, setting out what the Force and my office will focus on over the next seven years. I’m keen to know what Dorset people think about these ideas, so if you haven’t done so please have your say by completing my survey.
I am determined to make Dorset the safest county in England and Wales. I hope this summary has convinced you I am serious about that and has provided a little bit of information about what I am doing to achieve my vision for Dorset.