My Two Years in Office
One of my key responsibilities is to ensure that the public's views and priorities are the driving force behind tackling crime and improving policing and that the concerns of local people are raised with the Chief Constable.
The best way to find out how the public feel about crime and policing is to go out there and meet them face to face and that's why my team and I have attended nearly 800 engagement opportunities over the last two years.
I've been busy speaking to and listening to communities, local groups and partner organisations across Gwent about any observations they may have about crime and policing. Their feedback has been vital to inform my decisions on future work and in setting the foundations for my Police and Crime Plan.
MY COMMITMENT TO VICTIMS
I'm pleased to have continuously developed my commitment to put victims at the heart of everything we do and I have used my voice in the community to raise awareness on areas of concern such as Hate Crime.
Looking back, some of my key achievements in support of victims include:
- Being one of the first PCCs in the UK to launch a Victims Charter which has been adopted by the Force and outlines the minimum standard of service victims in the criminal justice process in Gwent can expect;
- Introducing the new Community Remedy measure which provides better involvement for those who are vulnerable and more of a voice for victims of low level crime and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB);
- Providing £50,000 over two years to kick start an award winning project at a school in Monmouth which adopts a 'restorative approach' to tackling harmful behaviour.
I will continue with my work as a member of the local criminal justice board which focuses on the victim's journey and ensures that cases that go to court are dealt with quickly and that the victims and witnesses have a positive experience and appropriate support.
Looking to the future, I'm currently developing a new victims' hub for Gwent which will launch early next year and act as a focal point for all victims who require support.
ACCESS TO POLICE STATIONS
Access to Police Stations has been high on the agenda for many of our communities and following valuable feedback from the public I made the decision earlier this year to reopen several stations which had been closed or had limited opening hours. These additional facilities are important where reassuring and engaging with the public is concerned.
I have also been working effectively with local authorities and organisations to ensure the Force maintains a strong presence in the heart of our communities. This includes the opening of a brand new Police Customer Service Desk at Caerphilly Library and a new police office at the social enterprise development in Trevethin.
I have also provided spaces to community groups in Police stations throughout Gwent to make the best use of redundant areas at some of these stations. The Old Police Court House next to Bargoed Police Station now houses the Town Council and is just one of the numerous examples of how we have been breathing life back into some of these stations for the benefit of the local community.
QUALITY NOT QUANTITY
I have overseen a complete move away from the emphasis on numerical targets with regards to crime recording here in Gwent to a focus on the quality of service provided. There has been a significant cultural shift within Gwent Police in the last 12 - 18 months which is giving officers the confidence to record crime as they should. With the move away from numerical targets, the indication is that public confidence in policing has improved and, as a result, they are now more inclined to report incidents.
MORE OFFICERS ON THE BEAT
I also know that accessible policing is a key priority for many and I want officers to spend less time in police stations and more time out on the beat in the communities they serve. That's why I was pleased to approve plans to redeploy fifteen Police Officers and five Police Sergeants working in Custody Units back out on the beat in the community over the summer. My aim is to maximise the visibility, availability and responsiveness of quality operational police officers to the public of Gwent by removing fully warranted Police Constables from offices.
One of the most pleasing aspects of my role is having the ability to commission services and award grants to organisations or bodies that support my policing priorities.
- Awarding over £500,000 from my Partnership Fund in money seized from criminals and from the sale of unclaimed found property to projects throughout Gwent which deliver against my priorities;
- Awarding £100,000 to the Positive Futures in Newport which helps vulnerable 10 to 19-year-olds at risk of crime and substance abuse and gives them help and support to gain qualifications and get jobs;
- £8,000 to Crime Prevention Panels in support of local prevention initiatives;
Supporting the work of the five Community Safety Partnerships in Gwent which work with local agencies to reduce levels of crime and disorder, anti-social behaviour, substance abuse and fear of crime in the local area;
- And funding the Gwent Drugs Intervention Programme which provides interventions for drug-misusing offenders throughout their criminal justice journey.
I have also supported the continuation of the award-winning Online Watch Link (OWL) neighbourhood watch system which now has over 46,000 registered members in Gwent and allows information about crime and associated activities to be shared amongst users. The system, which is heavily supported by Neighbourhood Watch and other national schemes, has played a key role in reducing rural crime in Gwent whilst the trend continues to creep in the opposite direction in other parts of the Country.
Providing accessible policing amid on-going cuts to the Police budget is one of the biggest challenges we face and we are in a position where we have to achieve more with the resources we currently have. With that in mind, I am aware that we need to be more collaborative and innovative in our approach to tackling crime and in ensuring our officers have access to the latest technology in support of their demanding roles.
I have ensured that Gwent Police has been able to benefit from a share of more than £2.2 million from the Home Office's Police Innovation Fund. The funding we have successfully applied for to date includes:
- Nearly £840,000 on creating the UK's first collaborative Police mobile data platform and 'app' which will enable frontline officers to transmit and access information in remote and challenging terrains;
- Over £230,000 for a project to help divert women who have been arrested away from criminality and provide them with a new 'restorative' approach to their rehabilitation;
- £657,000 awarded for the Firearms Licensing Digital Transformation project;
- And £155,000 awarded to trial Body-worn cameras and the use of associated technology in Gwent.
I believe that Commissioners are much more visible and accountable for policing than the old Police Authorities and we can make decisions swifter and have the ability to make things happen faster at a local level. By working in partnership with the Chief Constable, Community Safety Partnerships and the voluntary and charity sector locally - I believe we have made some great strides overall.
It's been a challenging yet fulfilling couple of years but I'm now looking forward to the next year and I will continue to work hard on improving policing and in driving forward essential partnerships to keep our communities safe. My focus, as always, will remain on putting victims first and in ensuring the people of Gwent have the best service possible.