My First Four Months
The four months since I was elected as the new Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent have gone by in a blink of an eye and it is only appropriate that I reflect on what has been a very busy and interesting journey.
I've been getting to know what is actually happening across Gwent with regards to policing and crime and from the outset my diary has been packed full of meetings with a range of people working in the community safety landscape including representatives from the voluntary sector, charities, health, other emergency services and elected officials.
I am pleased to have a good relationship with the Chief Constable for Gwent Police which is based on a spirit of trust and cooperation and I am committed to getting out on the streets with PCSOs and PCs to see first-hand exactly what goes on and to use that information in my decision making.
I have also been meeting individuals who have benefited from essential services supported by my office and recently met with substance misusers currently in treatment to see how support from the Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service (GDAS) is helping them to move away from the revolving door of reoffending related to their addictions.
ENGAGING WITH OUR COMMUNITIES AND TACKLING HATE CRIME
It is important that we listen to what the public are telling us and we must always consider the requirements of all our communities, including emerging ones. That is why I was pleased to support an event run by Race Council Cymru which specifically looked at how Gwent Police and my office can improve the way we engage with emerging and Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities.
In June we witnessed hate crime in its most horrific form when Labour MP Jo Cox was tragically murdered whilst carrying out her duties in Leeds. Meeting people in public is an integral part of an elected official's role and they should be able to engage with members of the public safely without fearing for their lives.
This is why I worked with Gwent Police to organise a briefing for elected members in Gwent so that they can carry on with their duties as safely as possible.
In the same month we also saw a spike in hate crime, fear of hate crime and tensions in communities across the UK following the referendum vote to leave the European Union. Hate crime in any form will not be tolerated in Gwent and there will be consequences for the perpetrators. I recently met representatives of the Muslim community in Newport to reassure them of this and to ask them to continue to report these matters to the police so they can be dealt with appropriately.
CASH SEIZED FROM CRIMINALS
I was delighted to continue the commitment of my office to delivering the Partnership Fund, which awards cash seized from criminals and from the sale of unclaimed found property, to projects which have a positive impact on their communities in preventing crime and anti-social behaviour. The latest round was rolled out in June and we had a staggering response and received close to 200 applications. The successful applicants will be announced in the autumn.
One of the biggest challenges facing Gwent Police is the issue of a reduced policing budget from the Home Office and you can rest assured that this is something that I and other PCCs in England and Wales are actively looking to address.
This week I announced the appointment of Eleri Thomas MBE as my Deputy. Eleri is an individual with an impressive and varied range of skills and experiences and I am delighted to welcome someone of her calibre to this role. She will play an important part in supporting my work of engaging with as many communities as possible and in ensuring that residents have direct input into the type of policing they want to see locally.
BUILDING THE PLAN
My duty is to ensure that the police and crime priorities for Gwent reflect what people are telling me and I've been out and about in the evenings and on weekends attending public meetings, gatherings and briefings and listening to the views and concerns of residents. The more I talk to people, the more I get all the vital information which is enabling me to start to pull together the next Police and Crime Plan for Gwent which is the document that gives the strategic direction for our policing, crime prevention and victim services for the next four years. With this in mind, I have launched a three-month public consultation asking residents for their feedback on my proposed police and crime priorities which you can access via http://bit.ly/policeandcrimepriorities."