When I was elected as Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner in 2012, I had a clear vision for less crime and more peace in the county. Against a background of police budget cuts this was not a straightforward goal and it seemed clear to me the Constabulary could not do it all on their own.
I spoke to many people, businesses and organisations outside the police and it was apparent also that tackling anti-social behaviour - things that aren’t regarded as crimes but which blight our communities – was important too. That is why I was keen to tap into the public and voluntary sectors. Their involvement has been crucial as I believe they are an essential element of community policing and have an important role to play in reducing crime.
The result was a Police and Crime Plan based on my own experience as a front-line officer, along with what Gloucestershire residents told me they wanted. The plan consists of six priorities under the following headings:
- Accessibility and accountability
- Older but not overlooked
- Young people becoming adults
- Safe days and nights for all
- Safe and social driving' and 'Safer cyber
To implement my Police and Crime Plan, I committed to setting aside a ‘pot’ of money from the PCC’s annual budget. Once a year community groups and organisations in the county are invited to bid for a share of the money from this ‘Commissioner’s Fund’. Recipients of the fund support the delivery of one or more of the six priorities in their community work, which can take many different formats ranging from restorative justice schemes, to young driver safety training, to community building activities and centres. The vast spectrum of recipients all share the same goal of making Gloucestershire a safer, more inclusive place to live and work.
Since November 2012 I have invested over £5million in 240 community projects and organisations, and this month I have pledged a further £1million from the Commissioner’s Fund to see the recipients through until 2017, regardless of whether I am re-elected next year.
It is a significant amount of money but how it is being spent is what is important. The success of these projects is helping to reduce demand on the Police and I am delighted communities have bought into the idea so effectively and with such enthusiasm. It is important they know their funding is secure at least until March 2017 as I have promised from day one.
It is the police and the public working together, making a difference to our quality of life in Gloucestershire.
GL11 Community Hub, based in Cam, near Dursley, has received £5,000 from the Commissioner’s Fund for its range of inclusive community activities and services. The project will receive a further £5,000 next year.