Speaker’s Corner: Constant effort to stop a ‘Rotherham’ happening here

Speaker's Corner: David LloydSpeaker's Corner: David Lloyd
Speaker's Corner: David Lloyd
Anyone watching the news throughout August might be forgiven for thinking the world was on the brink of disaster.

We have seen worrying reports from Syria and Iraq, Israel and Palestine, Ukraine and Russia, and a deadly Ebola outbreak in western Africa.

In many respects it has been a dreadful month with many grave events to reflect on – but not just in terms of world news.

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Here in Hemel, I was saddened to learn of the death of 16-year-old Fazan Ahmed, who died following a hit and run incident in Jupiter Drive.

While as Commissioner I am not involved in investigating the incident, through my role I was made aware of this tremendously sad event and my thoughts go out to his family and loved ones at this time.

I was also given cause to reflect when a report published last week revealed the scale and extent of the child exploitation that existed in Rotherham for many years.

Worse still were the failures by police and the local council to protect those children that were victims of the abuse.

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While I do not believe there to be any equivalent problem here in Hertfordshire, we must never become complacent.

It requires a constant effort to re-examine and re-evaluate whether police and its partner agencies are doing their best for the vulnerable people they come into contact with and victims in general.

And we shouldn’t also forget the bigger picture either. As children’s charities will point out: while these gangs have perpetrated heinous acts against children, the fact is that most abuse against children goes on within families and behind the closed doors of their own home.

From day one as Police and Crime Commissioner, I have spoken of the importance of police working closely together with all its partners in Hertfordshire – and of course with the community itself.

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Only by working well together can we untangle complex and sensitive issues such as these, and with the trust of the communities we serve. My position provides a unique strategic oversight of everything that contributes to crime and all of the powers we have to prevent it.

This combined with my experience as a Hertfordshire County Councillor means I can better pull together police, children’s services and other groups in the interests of the victim. I can examine what works well and what does not work so well and I can help share this with other areas so that victims across the county can benefit.

There are plenty of examples around the county of effective partnership working between police, councils, housing associations, probation and others.

But the basic principle that drives me is that I truly believe that crime prevention and community safety is everybody’s business.

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This is not an attempt to defend or lessen the responsibility attached to any police officer who has failed in their duty.

It is clear that police and professionals involved in safeguarding vulnerable people must properly investigate where there is risk of abuse.

But others such as family members, friends and neighbours also have a role.

If you have concerns about inappropriate behaviour at work, in your street or even in your own home, you should report them and not just hope they will go away.