Since my election, I have been concentrating on areas where I believe our Constabulary needs support to fight crime and keep us safe. Focusing on strategic and financial issues has led to an agreed plan with the Chief Constable to recruit 300 more officers, 150 more Special Constables/Volunteer Police Community Support Officers and 103 more police staff. These extra resources represent a 26% increase in establishment, the biggest percentage growth of any police force in England and Wales.
This will give us more ‘bobbies on the beat’ to reinforce Neighbourhood Policing, more resources to improve the failing 101 non-emergency answering service, a new emphasis on supporting victims and a better understanding of local crime trends, so we can become the safest area in the whole country.
I am now switching my focus onto more operational matters, so I can hold the Chief Constable to account on how he proposes to deliver your crime fighting priorities while we wait for the extra resources to arrive. I have already reviewed how we fight rural crime, organised crime groups (including tougher penalties against dog theft), our plans to reduce violence against women and girls, and what we can do to improve road safety.
Last week, I participated in very informative workshops to highlight best practice for dealing with anti-social behaviour, addiction abuse, and internet and call scams. I also witnessed a dawn operation against a highly dangerous organised crime group in Cheltenham, conducted by our extremely professional and fully armed specialist operations team, in which our Constabulary played a key part. From what I have seen so far, although we have areas that need significant improvement if we are to excel across the board, we also have much to be proud of within our police force.
In a few weeks’ time I will publish my new Police and Crime Prevention Plan, which will provide clear direction on what the Constabulary needs to concentrate on, and where our communities can help in the fight against crime. Building Stronger Communities has been the main theme of my recent roadshows around the County, and I have been really pleased at the support from the public, as the best way to fight crime and keep everyone safe is to work together, around dedicated parish constables, sharing intelligence and building community networks that are much stronger than the self-centred criminal networks we face.