THEY say a change is as good as a rest and next year I will be making a significant change to my life.
I will be standing down as Wiltshire and Swindon’s Police and Crime Commissioner after eight years to make way for someone new.
As we all take the time to reflect as we start a new year, I wanted to highlight some of the achievements of the PCC office which hopefully have helped improve policing in the county.
The introduction of triage staff from the Avon and Wilts Mental Health Partnership in our control room has enabled officers on the ground to access immediate advice and support when dealing with those in crisis. As a result, police custody has not been used as a place of safety for someone in crisis for more than two years.
My investment in the Crime and Communication Centre (where 999 and 101 calls are answered) means we have radically improved the call performance and personal experience for people calling the emergency and non-emergency numbers. In the past, it has not been perfect for those trying to get through but I am confident now our call answering service has improved immensely.
I also funded the new Digital Investigation and Intelligence Unit (DIIU) to target online criminality; a modern day crime. In its first year the unit has tackled some of the most distressing cases including the two people who distributed images over the internet of footballer Emiliano Sala’s body.
I have also made it my mission to make sure we avoid children being unnecessarily criminalised through positive schemes like: Mini Police Scheme, Police Cadets and Junior Good Citizen programme. Steering children away from the temptations of crime while they are still young.
When I leave in May, I want to make sure I leave this police service in the best shape possible for whoever succeeds me.
However, it is a challenge; demand continues to increase, yet our allocation of the funding available nationally disadvantages us. The police are responding to more incidents whilst working with less.
In fact we receive one of the lowest amounts of funding per head of population in England and Wales. In my remaining four months I will continue to fight for fairer funding for Wiltshire and Swindon so that we get a reasonable share of the national funding pot.
I hope my successor will continue to do the same; I also wish them all the best in the future in what is a very challenging, demanding but also rewarding role.