Making Wiltshire, and our county towns like Swindon, safer places to live and work is at the absolute centre of why I started my journey to becoming Police and Crime Commissioner.
Wiltshire deserves to be a safe place. Our county’s residents deserve to feel safe and actually be safe too.
I thought my experience in public service over the last few decades could really make an impact and I could start to make a tangible difference.
Earlier this week, I attended a south west regional meeting with all five PCCs, and our chief executives alongside our respective Chief Constables. The focus was purely on regional operational challenges and how the five force areas could better work together to tackle those core issues of crime that affect us all.
Ambition and commitment
It was certainly heartening to hear that we all had the same collective ambition and commitment to drive out crime from our beautiful area of the country and for the PCC offices to provide that broader function of prevention, victim support and reduction of re-offending.
Tackling those core issues was prevalent this week during Project Optimise – Wiltshire Police’s approach to tackling serious and organised crime.
I want to applaud the specialist teams and the community policing teams based in Swindon for their work on intelligence-led operations which saw several properties across the town targeted and resulted in 21 men and 4 women, aged between 17 and 54-years-old arrested. Fourteen of those arrested have now been charged with drugs offences.
Our communities deserve to be free from the scourge of county lines gangs.
These unlawful and despicable people decimate communities, prey on vulnerable people and peddle drugs on the streets of our towns - destroying lives.
Wiltshire is not a soft target
I want the organised crime gangs, who coordinate this loathsome trade, to get the message: Wiltshire isn’t a soft target - if you come here to deal drugs, and abuse our residents, you will be found and we will deal with you.
Our recent operations closed 15 different lines established by London-based dealers. In the process, we have seized hundreds of packets of drugs which won’t hit Wiltshire’s streets and several dangerous weapons that can’t kill or maim our residents.
That commitment and focus now means there are fewer drug dealers on the streets and less drugs out there which cause so much harm and devastation in our communities.
But this is just one piece of the puzzle and the work continues daily to stop other drug dealers, and other county lines gangs, ‘popping up’ and filling the vacuum created by this fantastic piece of policing.
Helping communities feel safe
Now I want to ensure those tentacles of crime can’t infiltrate back into our communities.
I will work with the local authorities, and other partners, to develop a multi-agency approach which will create a hostile environment for all criminals.
Only by looking at the problems holistically: causes, symptoms and consequences of crime, will we continue to make a difference and our communities will start to feel safer.