As your Police and Crime Commissioner I work for you and am accountable to you.  Just like with any job, it is good practice to review with your boss what has been achieved at the end of each year, and then determine ‘what next’.  So, these are my top ten achievements after my first year in office – none of which would have been possible without my excellent team:

First, I have strengthened the Constabulary by almost 200 full time officers and staff, with many more to come during the year ahead.  This already represents a 10% increase in establishment.

Second, this uplift in strength has contributed to a 59% reduction in neighbourhood crime, such as house burglaries, vehicle crime and bike theft, and in anti-social behaviour.  This is probably why Cheltenham has just been assessed as the second safest place in the whole country!

Third, responded to a highly critical report by the Government Inspector (regarding performance issues before I was elected) and solved the historical under recording of reported crime, and addressed all the budget management issues that had generated overspend pressures and poor value for money.

100,000 emails/social media contacts

Fourth, successfully bid for almost £5M, including £1M from the Home Office Safer Streets fund, outperforming in percentage terms all other forces in the country.  The Safer Streets money has provided better park lighting and CCTV and allowed us to develop a very effective mobile phone app – FLARE – for the anonymous reporting of crimes against women and girls.

Fifth, conducted a programme of roadshows, parish council and community engagements, and answered more than 100,000 emails/social media contacts to ensure I continue to listen to what the public is saying about crime and its police force.

Sixth, worked closely with all the Commissioners in the Southwest, and other stakeholders, to improve operational cross border co-operation – our first big operation was against drug dealers and those who engage in anti-social drug taking activity.

Seventh, rejuvenated our community safety partnerships in each of our six council districts and improved our working relationship with the county council and its fire service.  This should lead to further reductions in anti-social behaviour.

Eighth, published a comprehensive Police and Crime Prevention Plan, with a focus on empowering communities, tackling anti-social behaviour and violence and intimidation against women and girls.

A very busy but productive year

Ninth, produced a balanced budget for the next two years that is focussed on strengthening the Constabulary.  I have also introduced better governance procedures and a systematic holding to account on every important matter affecting the Constabulary, that has taken time to embed, but which will lead to better performance tackling crime.

Tenth, refocussed the existing Commissioner’s Fund on projects that concentrate on crime prevention, spending almost £560,000 on community projects, with a focus on youth diversion initiatives that will help keep young people away from anti-social behaviour, which is often a gateway into more serious crime.

So, a very busy but productive year and looking ahead to this year, I will be concentrating on working with the Chief Constable to improve performance tackling crime across the board.  We also still have much to do to reduce waiting times on our 101 non-emergency response line.  This year will see a major expansion of our volunteer officer force, with more Special Constables and the introduction of the brand new volunteer Police Community Support Officer scheme, allowing us to re-introduce the ancient office of Parish Constable, in as many communities as possible.  For that, we need people to volunteer, and I hope that may interest some of you.  Please give it some thought.