Engagement is crucial to bridging the gap between the police and our communities
Increasing and improving the number ways my office, and Wiltshire Police, engage with communities is just one way we can help the public have trust in their policing service again.
My aim to ensure Wiltshire has a police force which meets the needs of the people it serves is not simply making sure officers have the best cars or the latest equipment, although that is always welcomed, it is much wider than that.
We have to engage more with local communities and involve them in decision making, we have to excel at the basics: give good levels of customer service, have high standards and expectations of our officers and staff, with personal responsibility and accountability for mistakes, we have to be confident our communities trusts their concerns are being heard and they are treated fairly and we have to ensure our services are designed to work for the public, with the public’s experience determining how well the policing and justice service is working for them.
All of this will slowly start to increase trust that communities are being heard and listened to and to deliver a service designed to work for the public.
Wiltshire Police is already making strides towards greater community engagement. We want to tell people who their local officers are and how communities can help themselves by feeding intelligence to them, as well as hearing when there has been great service, as well as when it may not have hit the mark.
My Police and Crime Plan has gone some way to bridge this gap between the police and the communities they serve, being informed by the extensive public consultation, stakeholder focus groups and our Youth Commission in their inaugural year.
This engagement with the different communities has made it the most representative Police and Crime Plan Wiltshire has ever seen, but this is merely the foundation block for how I plan to increase your input on our policing service.
But for me it’s not just about listening to those who shout the loudest, but also taking the time to meaningfully engage with those who may feel they have a limited influence.
This is where the Youth Commission plays such a crucial role, young people aged 14-25 are empowered to act as a critical friend to me, my office and Wiltshire Police.
For too long when it comes to young people, do we find that even with the best intentions, services and initiatives are provided for them, instead of with them and too often we risk ‘missing the mark’ and alienating the very people we are seeking to help.
Working with their peers across the county the recommendations presented in their first report directly influenced the development of my Police and Crime Plan and I will ensure that their incredibly insightful and thought-provoking observations and research are fully implemented by my office and Wiltshire Police in a timely and considered manner.
We are now in the process of recruiting new members for the Youth Commission to sit for the next year and I would urge you to consider whether you know of any young people who could fit the bill and help make policing more representative and considered when it comes to teenagers and young adults.
I recognise that there may be some sceptics in the camp, that think this is mere lip service and won’t result in tangible action or change. But that has not and will never be my leadership style.
As your Police and Crime Commissioner, my core responsibility is to represent the residents of Wiltshire and Swindon when it comes to police and crime matters and this is not a responsibility that I take lightly or will shy away from.