Working together for a better Dorset
Last weekend people across Dorset, the country and indeed the world, came together to witness a truly historic event - the coronation of King Charles III. I would like to put on record my thanks on behalf of the people of Dorset to all the police officers, staff and volunteers who worked to keep us all safe over the long bank holiday weekend and I would also like to thank all those who represented Dorset Police by supporting colleagues at the Coronation itself.
Last week also saw local elections take place in the Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole council area – the elections brought a raft of new representatives in many ward areas, and I would like to take this opportunity to both thank those departing councillors for their service and congratulate new councillors on their election.
Change can be an important part of progress, especially if a change shares a common goal. I have come to learn that in public service, the drive to ‘do better’ for the people you represent is more important than the obstacles that are in your way – there is ‘always’ a way, if you are prepared to find it.
As the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, it is my duty to act as the voice of the people in policing. My role is to ensure that the needs of Dorset residents are articulated in a Police and Crime Plan and that there is an effective and efficient police service with an aligned vision that meets the needs of the community it serves.
To do this, I must ensure that I am connected to the public and listen to their opinions and concerns. One of the key factors in ensuring that I represent the people of Dorset, is working with elected representatives across the county, no matter what their political alignment may be. I hope that all councillors, because of the key role they have in the community, will build relationships with their local Neighbourhood Policing Teams to ensure that the Force knows about the things that matter locally. And of course, if there are wider, deeper seated or strategic issues, that need addressing, then I hope they will reach out to me, as Police and Crime Commissioner.
Over the last two years, I have seen just how powerful, effective partnership working can be. Just last week I attended the Addictions & Substance Misuse Parliamentary Drop-in Event that saw MPs, Ministers and PCCs from across the country come together to share best practice and discuss ways forward when it comes to tackling addiction and substance misuse at both a local and national level.
I also attended the Dorset Combatting Drugs Partnership (CDP), which is made up of statutory and non-statutory partners responsible for tackling drug crime, commissioning or providing substance misuse services, general health care and people with lived experience of substance misuse.
This was the fourth meeting of the CDP and the partnership has already established a needs assessment, a delivery plan, and agreed to co-fund a business manager post to coordinate the delivery of the CDP. In addition to this, several CDP sub-groups have been established to focus on key areas such as prevention, enforcement, treatment and recovery, and joint analytics. It has been great to see a multi-agency commitment to tackling substance misuse and I know this commitment will continue to grow as the partnership develops further.
This type of cross-sector partnership working is not limited to just tackling drugs. In February 2022, my office set up the Dorset Safer Business Partnership (DSBP) to provide a joined-up approach to fighting business crime in Dorset. The DSBP consists of the PCC, Dorset Police, business representatives and trade bodies who work together to develop strategies that address issues such as retail crime and violence against shopworkers and to improve confidence in policing, from a business point of view.
In the last 12 months, the DSBP has grown in strength, working together to develop solutions to criminal activity that impacts businesses across the county. Work is underway to improve the crime reporting process and the DSBP is working with businesses to increase the submission of ‘crime packs’ to the Police.
Following the successful establishment of the DSBP, in April 2022 my office also created the Rural Crime Reduction Board (RCRB) after identifying the need for a forum for partner agencies and those living and/or working in rural communities to discuss key issues, common themes and tackle the crime affecting them. Over the last year, the Board has been working on the development of strategic themes and projects to tackle topical issues, e.g. the prevention of rural crime, rural theft, wildlife crime, fly-tipping, and related organised crime. Regarding rural theft, the significantly better resourced Rural Crime Team are already demonstrating its capability by finding over £1 million pounds worth of stolen goods.
A good example of the type of partnership working the RCRB is fostering is the work the Board is doing to tackle fly-tipping which includes a multi-agency information sharing agreement that is being progressed between the Environment Agency, Dorset Police, and local authorities, to enable the sharing of high-level data to improve the identification and prosecution of serious offenders. This type of information sharing is a vital tool in combatting the blight that is fly-tipping, as it allows more evidence to be collected against serial offenders, heightening the chance of tougher sanctions and more prosecutions.
I hope this newsletter gives some background on how my office works in partnership when it comes to tackling the big issues that face the people and communities of Dorset. I look forward to both building new and strengthening already existing partnerships over the next year, as we strive to implement more and more of the Police and Crime Plan and endeavour to make Dorset the safest county.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset