I have just announced which projects we will fund within my Commissioner’s Community Fund.  This is an initiative started by my predecessor, which I have refocussed to meet your priorities in my Police and Crime Prevention Plan.  Chosen projects will be funded over two years, in line with my remaining term of office, and to encourage the development of more sustainable and longer term solutions.

This year we had almost 80 bids for funding support from around the County.  We could only fund about half those who applied, as my budget is concentrated on the recruitment of more police officers and staff, something which many of you have said is your top priority. Yet we must always remember that fighting crime is not just about chasing offenders.  We must also stop crime before it happens and address some of the causes of bad behaviour, so that we have smaller numbers of victims and less 999/101 demand coming into our force control room. That is why it is important to fund projects supporting our young people, distracting them from becoming involved in things like anti-social behaviour, which can often be a gateway crime into more serious offences.  Over half of the funded projects are for much needed youth based activities within our communities.

I was also keen to support innovative projects that brought a new approach to supporting victims.  A good example of that is the Cotswolds Dogs & Cats Home, who has developed a pet fostering service to help individuals fleeing from violent domestic abuse.  Usually, we would want to see the perpetrator leave the family home but where that is not possible, or the victim wishes to relocate immediately for their own safety, their freedom to move into a refuge or rented accommodation can be limited if they are accompanied by a pet. This charity run scheme seeks to foster the victim’s pet until they are able to look after it themselves, with support being offered to victims from around the County, not just those in The Cotswolds.

Another innovative project is The Music Works, based in Gloucester.  This brilliant organisation has state-of-the-art facilities that offers music making sessions for young people at risk of getting involved in serious violence.  Sadly, this is a growing problem in our urban areas and we must involve the whole community in tackling knife crime.

Together, we are so much stronger.