For me being Commissioner is a real honour. But I believe if you say you’ll do something, you do it or at least you find an alternative. Far too often politicians don’t stick to their word… I do, I am true to my word.
In two elections now I’ve stood with fully worked out manifestos, my promises have then be turned into my priorities through the Police and Crime Plan.
I’m proud of what we’ve achieved since 2012.
I’ve not done it alone, through listening to the public I’ve been able to influence and shape the police force to make it more connected to the communities it serves.
When I took office the county’s police force was suffering from the austerity. Salami sliced cuts had resulted in a constabulary which was losing its way and was stagnating.
Whilst its not been easy and I’ve not got everything right, the force and its role in our county is stronger than it was.
I’ve appointed two Chief Constables, who’ve both brought different things to the role.
From Suzette Davenport being the first female Chief in the county’s history and championing equality within the force to the current Chief Constable Rod Hansen who along with his senior leadership team are investing in our staff and re-energising neighbourhood policing, something I committed to in my 2016 Manifesto.
Neighbourhood policing is the golden thread in policing but with rising demand it was the part of policing that really suffered. I made it a promise to the people of Gloucestershire that I would deliver community policing, and despite a national trend away from it – we’ve brought it back.
I’ve fostered and progressed partnership working, not only through working with public sector partners but the voluntary sector too – with over 440 projects funded through the Commissioner’s Fund.
These small investments in projects and relationships build capacity and hopefully help to make our communities safer but also helping to reduce the demand on the police.
Investment in people and the constabulary’s estate is something I am immensely proud of.
I promised not to close any police stations – and have invested in police buildings making sure we have the right facilities in the right locations.
We’ve ploughed millions into projects such as giving officers mobile devices to enable them to work remotely to investing in green technology by being one of the first police forces to have electric only vehicles and its something I intend to build on.
With cuts to services like youth clubs, we’ve seen a rise in Anti-Social Behaviour , the result has been the police have ended picking up the tab. But through the Commissioners’ fund we’re investing in community schemes aimed at giving young people a place to hang out and be safe. But run by the community for themselves… from the #Echoes2 youth club in Coney hill to the Door Youth project in Stroud and Dursley to the Rock in Cheltenham, small investment but big gains.
Our criminal justice system quite frankly is failing many people – from the time it takes to get justice to victims having to give evidence in courts not fit for purpose. I’ve championed Children’s First an initiative run by the police and the youth justice team where young people are diverted from the courts where appropriate to a restorative solution. We’ve copied this successful scheme from surrey which has reduced the criminalisation of young people. This I am really proud of.
Restorative Gloucestershire was something talked about and piloted – I’ve embedded it and its now part and parcel of the police and that’s a win win. Saving money and getting the best possible outcome for victims of crime.
I’m investing money into Victims’ services with money going to organisations like the Nelson Trust, Victims Support, GDASS and GRASAC providing services for some of the most vulnerable in our county, but I want to do more and will do more in championing victims’ rights.
Whilst there’s been pressure from some quarters for regionalisation of police forces, I’ve resisted. I was elected to represent Gloucestershire and I believe a small dynamic force is sustainable. We do and will work with other forces and organisations, but it has to be in the best interests of the public… I want Gloucestershire jobs for Gloucestershire people wherever possible.
Cyber crime is all the rage now, but when I made it a priority in 2014 I was the first PCC to do so, and its paid off , its now business as usual in our local force.
I am keen that the police work with partners and if we can get upstream through early intervention and prevention we can sometimes stop crimes before they happen. Through projects like Great expectations and your knife or your life we are trying to prevent people from turning to crime, those are just a few example of schemes we supported.
It costs the Gloucestershire economy around 129 million pounds a year in late intervention, that’s dealing with things when they’ve hit crisis point. We through my office are working with partners to try and reduce this.
Whilst being a critical friend of the police, I’m not afraid to think outside the box. In times when money is tight we all have to be creative to get the biggest bang for the public buck.