When I am asked to describe the job of the police and crime commissioner, I say that that it is all in the name – but it’s the “and crime” part that probably needs a closer look.
Those two words, “and crime,” are intended to recognise a broader approach to tackling criminality and keeping people safe – not just a figurehead who gives police their orders and then sits back to watch the results.
Sitting back has never been my style, which I think my current 70-hour-plus working week is testament!
But by looking at crime through a wide-angle lens it is possible to consider the broader factors that can contribute to it.
These could be social or health-related issues for example. But they don’t directly fall under the remit of the police, so there is a need to harness the power of partner agencies and local community groups to make headway on them.
This is a view of my role that I firmly believe in and it was brought home to me again during one of the regular days I spend focussing on crime-related issues in Dacorum.
During the visit I saw police working together with the borough council on taxi licensing enforcement – officers from both organisations turned up unannounced to safety check the vehicles.
I also saw how Dacorum and St Albans Targeted Youth Support Team works with young people who have been in trouble with the law, in care or having difficulties at home.
Drugs and alcohol can often be a significant factor in crime and I spoke to a recovering user who was receiving support and is now himself mentoring others at Spectrum in Hemel Hempstead.
These examples show how intelligent interventions can help divert people away from crime and keep people safe, as well as how police can and do work successfully with partners, big and small.
As well as social aims, you can see that money invested in these schemes can save money later on when crimes or accidents are prevented and expensive investigations or clear-up operations are avoided. There are fewer victims too, which means the county is safer for everyone.
Dave Moore, who is Dacorum Borough Council’s community safety partnership co-ordinator, was with me on the day and said afterwards that the value of agencies working together “cannot be underestimated.” I agree.
My aforementioned long working week also allows me some time to fit in my work as a county councillor.
On a recent visit to Great Gaddesden with my ‘council hat’ on, I met with numerous community leaders who are working together for the common good.
The Gaddesden Place Riding for the Disabled Centre was one such excellent organisation.
So it is true also that away from issues of policing and crime, there are members of the public who are leaders within the community they live and working together to make this a better place to live.
From the biggest organisations in the county, such as police and councils, through to smaller ones like the majority of businesses, charities, volunteer and community groups, down even to individuals – we can all play useful roles in improving life in the area and keeping the county safe. That’s why I called my police and crime plan for Hertfordshire ‘Everybody’s Business’.
I am committed to supporting, encouraging and in some cases even cajoling organisations into working better together to make sure Hertfordshire residents receive the best service possible.
Making real change is impossible without it.