Posted: Tuesday 5th April 2016
Monday 14 March
A morning in the office, the bulk of which was taken up with preparation for the Commissioner’s Monitoring Board which was held in the afternoon. The agenda included our regional work, both across the South West and, more particularly, with Avon and Somerset Constabulary. I also had reports on the capital plan update, which deals with proposed spending on such things as buildings, vehicles and IT. The plan runs through to 2018-19 and identifies where spending is planned over that period. This plan enabled my office to confirm two new contracts, but it is fundamentally a planning document. We have also been out to tender for new insurance providers to take up cover from 1 April. This arrangement has been made with Avon and Somerset and Gloucestershire Police as part of the Tri-force working relationship and is for a period that will allow arrangements to be looked at on a full regional basis in three or four years’ time. The arrangement gave initial savings to Wiltshire which are partly offset by an increase in the national insurance premium tax.
We also discussed the West Coast Forensic Procurement Consortium and options available to us as it enters its final year. This consortium looked at the costs of forensic service providers to the region’s police forces. The plan is now to look at the potential to work with other regions to get even better prices for forensic services.
The board also had reports on the planned appointment of Assistant Chief Constables and an update on the Warminster custody project.
Tuesday 15 March
Only one entry in the diary for today, so an opportunity to spend some time clearing the desk. In the afternoon I attended a meeting of the restorative justice scrutiny panel. This panel, chaired by William Wyldebore-Smith, a former High Sheriff, looks in detail at the outcome of cases where restorative justice has been applied. The meeting examined 14 cases, involving both youths and adults. The role of the panel is to ensure that the quality of resolutions is maintained and that the process is used in appropriate circumstances. The annual report of the panel will be uploaded to my website.
Wednesday 16 March
As blog readers will be aware, an essential part of a PCC’s job is to hold the chief constable to account for the service the constabulary provides to the public of Wiltshire and Swindon. Mike Veale was appointed Chief Constable in June 2015 and, as we complete one financial year and plan for the year ahead, I spent the morning with the Chief carrying out his personal development review. With the election imminent, it would not be appropriate for me to set objectives for Mr Veale, but it did give us the opportunity to review his first nine months in the post.
In the afternoon I watched an exercise being carried out in the Crime and Communications Centre at HQ. The scenario was around a gunman in a local supermarket. I have to say that it was easy to forget that this was an exercise and we should certainly thank those members of the public who gave up their afternoon to phone in to the control centre. They worked to a script, but the acting skills were impressive. The exercise was very well planned and the initial feedback from those who took part was positive. Evaluation will now take place.
Thursday 17 March
In the morning I attended a governors’ meeting at Dauntsey’s before heading off to STEAM, Museum of the Great Western Railway in Swindon. This was for the Pride of Swindon presentations. I was among the panel of judges who considered the nominations. I was pleased that Big Breakfast Plus, a charity for which I was a trustee, was not only given a Pride of Swindon award, but also received a cheque for £1,000, voted for by those at the awards ceremony. Among the other award winners were several that my office has supported over the past years, notably Sue Lee, the sex work outreach worker from the ISIS Women’s Centre, the BIOS youth club project and the Youth Offending Team volunteers. A great event for recognising the efforts of volunteers to make life in Swindon better.
In the evening I drove the van for the Filling Station soup run for the homeless.
Friday 18 March
Today is Child Sexual Exploitation awareness day. I was very pleased to be joining people in Wiltshire and across the country to raise awareness of the need to keep our children safe. We have done quite a bit in Wiltshire and Swindon with partners, but I don’t think we can ever be complacent.
This morning we had a strategic alliance board meeting at Portishead. This was the first opportunity that I have had to meet the new Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset, Andy Marsh. He shared with the meeting the Avon and Somerset collaboration strategy statement which reflected the agreement that the two offices of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCCs) had made some months ago. Of particular interest to me was that local policing stays beyond the scope of the collaboration programme, but we recognise that services do need to be aligned wherever possible. Now that Mr Marsh is in post, I think the collaboration can move forward, but I have to recognise the limitations that might be caused by the PCC election.
I returned to Swindon in the afternoon to visit the Youth for Christ project in Stratton where I have funded the installation of a bench in the sports area which young people can use. This was funded from the Police Property Act proceeds which I am required to distribute to local charities. Bids are administered on my behalf by the Community Foundation.
In the evening I attended political meetings in both Salisbury and Warminster.
Saturday 19 March
I had a ticket to watch Wales v Italy in the rugby union Six Nations championship. However, I decided that I should instead attend the mock trials competition run by the Magistrates Association in Chippenham court house. Seven schools took part, each prosecuting and then defending a case of shoplifting. The school that won last year’s Wiltshire round went on to win the national competition. I hope that this year’s winners, St Laurence School, Bradford on Avon, will enjoy similar success.
VICTORS: St Laurence School team with Lady Gooch, former High Sheriff, Martin Cook of the Magistrates Association and Mrs Brewer, widow of David Brewer, in whose memory the Wiltshire shield is named. Mr Brewer was clerk to the magistrates in Swindon for many years.