PCC Will Not Stand for Re-Election
Ian Johnston has announced he will not be seeking re-election as the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent in May 2016.
Mr Johnston, who was elected as Gwent's first ever PCC in November 2012, will officially announce his decision to members of the Gwent Police and Crime Panel at their meeting in Usk today.
"It has been a huge privilege and an honour to serve the people of Gwent as Commissioner and the decision not to stand for a second term has been a difficult one for me to make," said Mr Johnston.
"It has been a challenging time but very fulfilling and I feel that I have achieved everything I set out to do.
It is now time for me to move on and hand over to the next Commissioner. Some people still don't accept the concept of the role but I believe that for members of the public, PCCs have brought much more visibility and accountability to policing and have been able to make things happen effectively at a local level.
As PCC I have ensured that the plan for policing in Gwent reflects what the public have told me about their priorities and concerns. I want to thank my Deputy, Paul Harris, the staff in the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Gwent Police and our many partners in the community for all the hard work they have put in over the last four years to improve services for the people of Gwent."
Mr Johnston reflected today on some of his key achievements during his term in office.
"Before the election I made a commitment to put victims of crime at the heart of everything we do," said Mr Johnston.
"I have delivered on that promise. My key achievements in support of victims include being one of the first PCCs in the UK to launch a Victims' Charter and establishing the Connect Gwent victim's hub, the first ever multi-agency service of its kind in Wales which provides positive and lasting support to victims of crime, helping them to cope and recover. More than double the numbers of victims in Gwent are now accessing an enhanced provision as a result. Raising awareness of specific areas of concern such as Hate Crime has also been a priority and these significant pieces of work have all helped to generate an increase in the overall satisfaction of crime victims with the service they receive from Gwent Police.
Following feedback from the public, I made the decision to reopen several police stations which had been closed or had limited opening hours. These facilities are really important where reassuring and engaging with the public is concerned. I have also worked effectively with local authorities and organisations to ensure that police officers maintain a strong presence in the heart of our communities despite shrinking budgets. This included opening service desks in public buildings and shopping precincts. I have also made use of redundant space in some of our stations for the benefit of the local community. The Old Police Court next to Bargoed Police Station now houses the Town Council and is just one of the numerous examples of how we have used police buildings for the benefit of the whole community.
Accurate recording of crime data is crucial and something which has been high on my agenda since I was elected. It is essential that the police deploy their limited resources where they are most needed and frontline officers must have the information they need to prevent crime and bring criminals to justice. This is why I have overseen a complete shift away from numerical targets in Gwent and focussed instead on the quality of service provided. Gwent Police led the way nationally in this respect and the Chief Constable has shown great commitment in the way he has dealt with the issue. It is interesting to note that 39 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales are now showing an increase in recorded crime and the indication in Gwent is that people are more inclined to report incidents as they know they will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my role has been in commissioning services and awarding grants to organisations and bodies in support of my policing priorities. This has included my Partnership Fund that has used money seized from criminals and from the sale of unclaimed found property to finance small projects throughout Gwent which deliver against my Police & Crime Plan. I have been particularly pleased to see that the money I have awarded to the Positive Futures sports inclusion programme has allowed it to be extended throughout Gwent. Part of the programme uses sport and physical activity to offer young people an alternative to committing crime and anti-social behaviour and helps them to access training, education and employment opportunities. The Drugs Intervention Programme, Community Speedwatch groups, Crime Prevention Panels and Community Safety Partnerships have all been provided with funding to help reduce levels of crime and disorder, anti-social behaviour, substance abuse and fear of crime in local areas.
Austerity measures have resulted in a significant reduction to the budget for policing. I have supported the Chief Constable to better align resources with demand by restructuring the force and the way it operates.
This has enabled the Force to deploy more officers out on the front line where they are needed most.
There are many other initiatives that have been introduced during my tenure and whilst it has sometimes seemed like an uphill task, I have been hugely encouraged by the commitment that continues to be shown by the people who work for Gwent Police. The fact that Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has recently commended the force for making "excellent progress" is a real testament to all the hard work they have put in.
One of my last official engagements as Commissioner will be to attend the annual awards ceremony where we will recognise the efforts of those officers and staff who have gone the extra mile in serving the communities of Gwent over the last year. It is always a pleasure to hear about their impressive efforts and celebrate their achievements. Their stories will be one of my abiding memories."