National Crime Week 2023 Continued...
Last week saw the Home Office make several announcements around policing and crime as part of National Crime Week. I want to ensure that the public knows exactly how these announcements will affect policing in Dorset. Therefore my newsletter last week talked you through the first three of these announcements and this week I would like to go through the rest of what the Home Office announced.
Addiction and Substance Misuse
As the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ joint leads on Addiction and Substance misuse, I welcomed the publication of the Home Affair Committee's third report on drugs and the news that the Committee clearly and explicitly rejects the proposals for legalising cannabis in the UK.
For two years, I have campaigned for cannabis to be made a class A drug and raised awareness of the harmful risks associated with the use of this drug. I am pleased to see the Committee and mainstream media acknowledging the health risks of cannabis and I hope that this evidence now resonates so that less people come to harm. In Denmark, cannabis is behind 30% of schizophrenia cases and in America, cannabis has been found to double its users’ risk of depression. Just two more pieces of information to add to psychosis, birth defects and cancer implications amongst others.
The announcement explicitly rejecting the proposals for legalising cannabis in the UK is a step in the right direction and I will continue to raise awareness of the risks of cannabis and lobby government to protect vulnerable people from this harmful drug.
Serious Violence Duty
Last week, the Home Office published its Serious Violence Duty allocations, which sees funding allocated to areas to cover the work required for partners to deliver the Serious Violence Duty.
I am pleased to see that Dorset has been allocated just over £292,000 of funding, that will be given to the local authorities to enable them to work with the police to prevent and reduce serious violence.
However, I know more needs to be done to tackle violent crime and I will continue to campaign for a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to be set up in Dorset. Creating a unit would bring together essential partners to reduce local violent crime and address the underlying causes. VRUs work by understanding the local needs of the area and identifying where and how interventions would be most effective, resulting in a more localised approach tailored to the community’s needs.
More protection for survivors of Domestic Abuse
Last week the Ministry of Justice announced a new pilot scheme that will see those convicted of domestic abuse tagged when leaving prison in order to better protect victims. Under the scheme, offenders who are tagged can be banned from going within a certain distance of a victim’s home, with the tags monitoring their whereabouts or making them abide by a strict curfew. Offenders who breach these rules face being returned to prison.
It is a priority within my Police and Crime Plan to put victims first and this domestic abuse electronic tag pilot is a positive step forward in protecting victims. I believe it is vital that there are procedures in place to protect those who experience sexual abuse, stalking and domestic abuse. It is my hope that after the pilot, the scheme will be expanded to include Dorset and the whole of the UK.
Visibility and Response
I am pleased to see the Home Office echo my own views and call for more visible and responsive policing as we relentlessly pursue criminals. Ensuring policing is visible and connected has been a priority of my Police and Crime Plan since 2021 and I am pleased to see that this will now be a focus for all forces across the country.
Just this past week in Dorset, we have seen enhanced policing in Bournemouth as officers conduct high visibility patrols in order to keep residents and visitors safe at the Bournemouth Air Festival. Officers focused on hot spot patrols, targeted intervention, and proactive engagement throughout the weekend of events.
Thanks to the professional and hardworking police officers and staff involved, Bournemouth Air Festival was a success from a policing point of view with only a few minor incidents needing assistance from the force and Dorset County Show returned with thousands of residents and visitors alike enjoying a safe and sunny weekend.
I am clear that the new officers must be seen and visible to the public not just for special events but throughout the year and will be receiving further updates to ensure this occurs.
The announcements made as part of the Home Office’s National Crime Week all work towards making the country safer and ensuring those that commit crime receive just punishment. I will continue to lobby for Dorset to ensure that we are at the forefront of change as we endeavour to make Dorset the safest county.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner