Funding, Faithworks, ASB and #ItsNotOK
This week I am pleased to report that both Chris Loder MP and Richard Drax MP have been lobbying Parliament in the attempt to get Dorset a fair share of the government grant when it comes to police funding.
Dorset is 40th out of 41 forces when it comes to funding from the Government, and I am absolutely determined to see that change, so we get a fair deal in the future. I said to the Police and Crime Panel last week that I will lobby relentlessly on our counties behalf to get our fair share and to have the support of our MP’s in doing that is vital.
Also, this week I have met with Faithworks to discuss the ‘Change for Good’ initiative and help them lobby for more payment points in more places to make donating easier. I want to be at the heart of providing practical solutions to help the homeless and this initiative enables people move off the streets and rebuild their resilience away from rough sleeping.
I want to briefly mention the work of the North Bournemouth Crime Prevention Panel. They received funding from my office through the ‘Safer Dorset Fund’ and have been putting the funding to good use in their area.
I am delighted to report that they are working with ASB HELP - a National Charity that provides effective support for anti-social behaviour victims and I am particularly pleased by the work they are doing with Bournemouth Blind Society. I’m hoping to visit the Panel in the near future, and I look forward to updating you all on the work they are doing.
Finally, as part of #ItsNotOK week I wanted to share with you a snapshot of some of the work that is happening to target Sexual Abuse and Violence in Dorset.
I share the focus that Dorset Police have on reducing and preventing sexual offences in Dorset and I join Dorset Police in actively encouraging victims to report offences, more reporting means more investigations taking place, more opportunities to put the perpetrators behind bars and more much needed help being given to victims*.
Since being elected in May, I have been working on implementing my Police and Crime Plan, which has at its heart priorities on tackling sexual violence, domestic abuse, stalking and other high harm areas such as VAWG. I am really pleased to say that there have been some significant developments when it comes to partnership working in this space:
- Since taking up office, I have met with Women’s Aid, You First, STARS, the Water Lily Project, and the Chair of the Dorset Domestic Abuse Forum. At such meetings, I have been able to hear first-hand from victims about their experience, as well as draw upon the considerable experience and insight that these organisations have offered on behalf of the victims and communities they represent.
- I alongside my fellow PCCs in Wiltshire and Hampshire, have had an independent report commissioned into rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO). The review is complete, and a number of recommendations have been made which are now being considered by Senior Management. I look forward to providing an update on this soon.
- I have funded an Independent Stalking Advocacy Caseworker for 2 years to ensure victims of this crime type are supported and the Force has increased its numbers of vulnerability lawyers, so that further legal measures can be put in place to prevent domestic abuse, sexual offences, and stalking.
- I am pleased to see that the Force has in place a number of orders including Sexual Harm Prevention Orders, Sexual Risk Orders, Domestic Violence Protection Orders, and Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) in place. Some of the orders that are in place are for up to 10 years.
- I was particularly pleased to see the Operation Vigilant initiative take place in Weymouth and Bournemouth last year. The operation aimed to reduce the risk to vulnerable people enjoying a night out and identify and deter sexual offenders. Officers interacted with vulnerable people and looked out for individuals demonstrating signs of predatory sexual behaviour, loitering or sexual harassment.
- Drink spiking was also a concern for many last year and so in November I funded the purchase of over 1000 drink spiking testing kits, which were made available in key locations, including hospitals, police stations and nightclubs across Dorset as well as almost 14,000 ‘stop-tops’ and ‘bottle-top spikes’, to help prevent drinks from being ‘spiked’.
- Last year my office was successful in ensuring funding of almost £600,000 came to Dorset for projects to help women and girls feel safer on our streets. Part of the funding was allocated for CCTV, and intervention workshops to help increase awareness, change societal attitudes, and empower women and girls to feel safer. And £200,000 was dedicated to tackling Domestic Abuse – the funding went towards the Up2U Family Practice Model training which trains front line professionals, working with families, to identify signs of domestic abuse and start implementing intervention to promote a change in behaviour and reduce the risk of escalation. It also supported the expansion of the Up2U Creating Healthy Relationships Programme, commissioned by BCP Council, to temporarily increase their resources.
As I say, the above list is only a snapshot of the work that is happening.
Two weeks ago, I got to put a question to Rachel Maclean, Minister for Safeguarding at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Summit. I challenged the government on the introduction of a Stalking Register for those who fixate on sequential victims and I pledge to continue to ask the awkward questions and ask for more and more of our government in support of those who have been a victim of a sexual crime.
Make no mistake, tackling sexual offences, rape, domestic abuse, stalking and VAWG are all priority areas, and I will work tirelessly alongside the Chief Constable to drive down sexual crime and make Dorset the safest county.
Police and Crime Commissioner
*(Anyone who has been the victim of a sexual assault, whether recently or in the past, is encouraged to contact Dorset Police online from www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online or by telephone to 101. In an emergency always call 999. Not everyone will wish to involve the police at first, but if that is the case please use the services provided anonymously by The Shores at 0800 970 9954 or www.the-shores.org.uk.)