David Sidwick – my first 100 days (part one)
This week, I mark my 100th day in office as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset.
It’s been a huge honour to take up the role and serve the people of the county, but I was very clear that once I had been elected it had to be about delivery.
That’s why we created a 100-day plan straight away to start addressing the priorities that matter to you.
When I started in the post, I told you I had six areas I wanted to focus on, based on my conversations with residents and businesses across Dorset. Now, I’m going to let you know what’s been happening in three of those areas.
Cutting crime and anti-social behaviour
Cutting crime and anti-social behaviour was the mission and also a priority when I took up office – and still is. Throughout my years of campaigning for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner, anti-social behaviour was the biggest issue that came up on the doorstep, in the postbag and in meetings I attended with residents and groups across the county.
I’m very pleased to say there have been a lot of developments in this area. Firstly, the Force has launched Operation Relentless – a clear focus on tackling anti-social behaviour and making sure the public know it won’t be tolerated in the county.
I’ve also launched my own Operation Relentless Community Fund, in which members of neighbourhood groups and charities can apply for money to fund projects that will enable them to tackle anti-social behaviour and make people feel safer in their own community.
Making our roads safer is another important area when it comes to cutting crime, and I’m glad to see the Force has launched its drug and drink drive campaign during my first 100 days – something that’s more important than ever as visitors flock to enjoy our reopened hospitality sector.
I want my administration to be defined by the people and their issues. For example the illegal use of e-scooters is very clearly of concern and I have ensured that this is on the agenda of Dorset police and action is being taken including seizures.
Linking in with road safety, I am aware that many people across our county have been affected by catalytic converter theft over the last few months. This is a problem I’ve been committed to get to grips with and my office is now working with the Force to arrange the distribution of SmartWater kits, making it easier for officers to identify recovered stolen converters and increasing the chance of thieves being caught.
Making policing more visible and connected
Bringing back community focused policing to the streets of Dorset and improving the connections between the police and the public was another major priority, and I’m glad to report there has been a lot of significant progress in this area as well.
Dorset Police has been able to recruit additional officers as part of the Government’s uplift programme, and we have an agreement in principle to increase the neighbourhood policing teams so those officers are going straight where we need them.
We’ve re-looked at the Neighbourhood Engagement Contract initiative, which sets out how communities can communicate as effectively as possible with their local officers. We will be ensuring that the Neighbourhood Policing Teams keep their promises to provide localised services that work for our communities.
The excellent police cadets scheme is now being expanded, with new units in Poole and Weymouth going live in September.
The existing scheme in Bournemouth has been a huge success, with dedicated cadets there being placed at the heart of their communities, and I’m delighted to see other young people across our county will now be given the same opportunities.
And we will be increasing the number of Special Constables by 25%, boosting the amount of people from across our neighbourhoods who will be performing these important voluntary roles.
Fight violent crime and high harm
This area deals with tackling organised gangs who bring drugs and exploitation into our county.
I’ve talked to my colleagues across the South West and we now have a regional priority around tackling drugs.
I’ve also become the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ joint co-lead on substance misuse – ensuring Dorset has a voice right at the centre of the national debate on how to tackle this issue.
This priority also focuses on tackling hidden harms such as child abuse, domestic abuse, and matters such as stalking. I’ve already provided two years’ funding for an Independent Stalking Advocacy Caseworker (ISAC) who will ensure victims of stalking receive the support and justice they deserve.
As well as this, funding has been agreed and recruitment is taking place to increase the number of vulnerability lawyers within the Force, which will allow us to more effectively make use of Stalking Protection Orders and other tools to help victims.
And I am now working with partners to introduce safer public spaces, particularly in areas with a vibrant night time economy where people can feel vulnerable during nights out.
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.
Keep an eye out for my next blog, in which I’ll talk a little about what I’ve done in my other three priority areas – fighting rural crime, putting victims and communities first, and making every penny count.
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 already 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.