This time a year ago local people elected me as their first Police and Crime Commissioner and my feet have covered miles of Derbyshire since then, doing what I like best: talking and listening to people on the subject of policing.
This is a big job, no doubt about that, but it’s a varied, interesting, full-on role that I feel privileged to hold.
Before the election I made a number of pledges. Now I can look back with some pride (and no little relief) and say that we have delivered. Privatisation is not coming to Derbyshire Police, the victim’s journey is being improved, those at risk of domestic abuse are safer thanks to funds awarded from my Office and I will continue to fight against further cuts to the police budget.
We have influenced change in the way in which wildlife crime is policed in Derbyshire and we have an active plan to tackle alcohol abuse and mental health issues, working with our key partners in other local authorities.
The most difficult bit is dealing with the implications of a lowering budget – just one reason why we cut the costs of my own office thus enabling us to fund four additional PCSOs in the county.
Further cuts in the policing budget earlier this year were disappointing but no surprise. That’s why savings of £2.5m in year-end figures for 2012-13 had already been made. Many of these savings resulted from cautious management practices designed to put the force in the best possible position to meet the challenge of more cutbacks.
Lower spending than anticipated by my Office and the former Police Authority also meant more money for the operational funding reserve aimed at helping mitigate the funding gap and protect local policing. Some of this underspend is now being used to boost local crime prevention projects.
My Crime Prevention Fund and the Crime and Disorder Grants awarded this year have helped key service providers sustain or even improve the level of service they are able to offer. This includes funds provided to those agencies supporting victims of domestic abuse and other vulnerable people.
Overwhelmingly, I have seen time and again the importance of pulling together with other organisations. The power of truly joined up partnership working will help overcome some of the challenges we face, including reducing resources and an unwelcome but unsurprising increase in crime.
I have been lucky enough to meet 1000s of people, connecting with local communities through my walkabouts and consultation events such as Have Your Say.
The one disappointing issue is the rise in some types of crime, following ten successive years of reductions, in areas such as shoplifting, theft and burglary. I believe that this ‘poverty crime’, due to the increasing hardship faced by some families, is driving otherwise law-abiding people to crime. Measures are in place to tackle it, but it is a sad reflection on the general economy in some areas of the county.
That said, we’ve achieved a lot, but there is always more to be done. And I will meet that expectation in the coming years. I am here to represent the people of Derbyshire and I am honoured to do just that. Please, if you have something to say, get in touch.
Posted on Friday 15th November 2013