Op Relentless Community Fund in action
This week, I’d like to tell you more about the Operation Relentless Community Fund as I have been visiting some of the organisations who were successful in their funding applications during round three last year. Over the past few days, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the people across Dorset who are intent on making a difference to their communities and seizing the opportunity to enact positive change.
I know the detrimental impact ASB can have on communities and individuals, and that is why I am so intent on driving down offences which cause harm to the people of Dorset. Tackling ASB is a key part of my Police and Crime Plan and through this fund, I have seen the positive impact Op Relentless projects are making across the county. These initiatives are seeing real results as well, as the residents of Littlemoor can attest. Following the installation of cameras at the Top Club, partially funded by Op Relentless, this area of Weymouth saw an 80% per cent drop in ASB incidents and importantly, residents said they felt safer. I am proud that the money granted through Op Relentless gives people the power to come together and tackle issues in such an effective way for their communities.
I was clear when establishing the Op Relentless Community Fund that I wanted the grants to go to projects which reduce ASB and increase the feeling of safety in areas disproportionately affected. So far, the fund, which was set-up in 2021, has supported 31 organisations with more than £117,000 of funding. Applications for sums from £100 up to £5,000 have been approved over the years and successful projects from all three rounds have included crucial work to protect localities with CCTV cameras, community outreach work, and projects for young people including skateboarding sessions and gym membership as well.
In the latest funding round, I am pleased to see a variety of projects in locations across Dorset, three of which I have visited this week with my team. Charlton Down Cricket Club near Dorchester has seen new CCTV cameras installed on their premises following issues with littering and the presence of items relating to drugs and alcohol. There have also been incidents involving damage to property at the site. I am pleased this funding will enable those from the cricket club to feel their premises are safer thanks to the new security measures.
Elsewhere I also met members of St Andrew’s Church Community Centre in Kinson, Bournemouth whose funding has been put towards measures to protect the local area around the church and Kinson and West Howe Foodbank. The community has seen numerous incidents of ASB over the past few years including windows broken, fly tipping, motorbikes and dirt bikes bring raced on the land and lane, drug dealing and much more. These are the incidents I want to help stop. The community centre is used seven days a week by a variety of people including parent and baby groups and exercise classes and the food bank for two days a week. In the current cost of living crisis, it is crucial people feel safe accessing services like the ones offered here, and I am pleased this will help towards that.
In Weymouth, I was delighted to see the funding to Weymouth Town Council put towards two SIA (Security Industry Authority) staff to support the existing Resort Team for eight weeks during the summer months. These patrols will help to create high visibility and a sense of safety for visitors and residents to the town. The key objectives of the SIA workers are to address ASB, provide intelligence to the council and Dorset Police and promote Weymouth as a safe and welcoming place for everyone in the town. It comes after the town saw a 40% reduction in ASB incidents during the 100 Days of Summer campaign, and I am pleased this effective joint working will continue to make a positive impact.
I want the Op Relentless Community Fund to empower communities to help address incidents of ASB affecting them. I hope to run a further round of the fund in the next few months and ask people to keep an eye on our website for an announcement. Together, through policing, the work of our partners and a united approach, we can drive down these offences and make Dorset the safest place to live and work.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner