We recently saw a new Police and Crime Commissioner elected for Wiltshire.
That area has traditionally elected Conservative candidates and although this by-election had an air of uncertainty about it, as it was run in a volatile political atmosphere and in the middle of summer, a Conservative held the seat.
I was pleased with the result as the candidate was a fellow veteran from my Regiment, a security professional and I had campaigned with him to help him win. But the main reason I was pleased with this result was that it would mean greater cooperation throughout the police forces in the Southwest.
Ever since the first Police and Crime Commissioner elections in 2012, the Southwest has mainly had independents in the role, a fact that has made successful cooperation difficult to achieve. We had too many political egos, bad politics, hidden agendas and divisive behaviour that got in the way of closer working relationships.
Now that all five forces have Conservative Commissioners – with three of us also ex-Army – even though we are all individuals, there is no Party whip, we swear an oath of impartiality, and we work on behalf of our local electorates, there is a new and genuine air of cooperation in the air.
Our natural default position is that we will look at how best to make our forces more effective and efficient, by working together across boundaries. There is more strategic focus and common purpose.
Not every idea we will discuss will work, as each force is different in so many ways, with geography constraints often providing insuperable difficulties. Yet we can do so much more by working together to fight those organised criminals operating on our roads, across boundaries, such as happens with illegal drug distribution. Road safety is another area that is a natural fit for a common approach.
I also recently had a meeting to look at sharing best practice to reduce reoffending in each of our areas, as that is at the core of criminal activity wherever you look. In fact, across the country, reoffending costs some £18 billion every year and needs concerted joint action to ensure rehabilitation works.
There will be many other areas that we can cooperate on, which is brilliant, as that is what good politics is all about, searching for better ways to protect and enrich our communities for the common good.