Cambs Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Graham Bright discusses his two years in the role and the challenges ahead
- Credit: Archant
Sir Graham Bright, Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, reflects on his two years in office and looks ahead to the challenges facing policing in the years ahead.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
One of the great advantages of Police and Crime Commissioners is the ability to make decisions and take quick action. Not having to make decisions by committee means that I can drive things forward quickly.
Obviously, to begin with there was a steep learning curve and I took plenty of advice.
Now, as my knowledge has grown, I am able to move forward in a number of areas that are important to me, important to the constabulary and important to the people we serve.
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When meeting people I am asked what difference have you made?
I am always happy to explain and I hope people go away with a much higher opinion of me and the office I hold. Below are just some of the areas of work I am particularly proud of.
- 1 BMW driver 'intentionally rammed' Ford car on A142 before fleeing scene
- 2 Binmen revolt over alleged bullying, poor pay, low morale and staffing crisis
- 3 Football club ‘disappointed’ after vandals damage toilet facilities
- 4 Woman pedestrian in her 50s killed in guided busway crash
- 5 Lucky Cambridgeshire neighbours win People's Postcode Lottery
- 6 Drug dealer racially abused police officer
- 7 Person cut out of car after two-vehicle crash
- 8 Man charged over death threats to deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner
- 9 Ramsey woman to appear in court to face drug dealing charges
- 10 Three people arrested in Somersham after stash of Cannabis found in car
We have set up a Victims’ Hub. This is staffed by local people with local knowledge who understand the support services available and develop local solutions for victims.
Victim Care co-ordinators assess victims of crime to determine the level of support they need and then help them in the most appropriate way, bringing in specialist services as required.
The services available for victims of domestic and serious sexual offences have also been boosted through grants I have given to Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid.
When I first became commissioner I was horrified that people with mental health problems sometimes ended up in the cells for the night when they should have been in hospital.
We now have agreements in place between the constabulary and health care professionals to ensure those with mental health issues are assessed and dealt with in the appropriate way.
This month we went one step further with the signing of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat Declaration, which sets out how agencies that deal with people with mental health problems will work together to support those experiencing mental health crisis.
In the last two years I have received around 3,000 pieces of correspondence. All correspondence is followed up and the individuals responded to.
I offer one to one meetings with anyone who wishes to speak to me at monthly surgeries and I also hold street surgeries where I visit towns and cities and speak to people on the street.
My outreach worker extends my ability to engage with local groups, gathering opinions and feeding the intelligence back to me.
Supporting young people
I would like all young people get the best possible start in life and so have supported various initiatives that help divert young people away from a life of crime.
School forums - My outreach worker is running a series of forums in schools across Peterborough and Fenland which give students an opportunity to have their say on policing and crime.
Police cadets – Cambridgeshire’s first police Ccdets scheme started in Peterborough this month.
Youth fund – I set up a youth fund to engage young people in positive activities in their community.
Charities and community groups can bid for grants of up to £2,000 through the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation.
Neighbourhood Alert system
Cambridgeshire is one of the areas that have adopted the Neighbourhood Alert system.
This is an online, secure community messaging system that allows authorised administrators to log in and send messages to registered people in the community, members of Neighbourhood Watch and other schemes.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary’s E-cops messaging system, which uses the Alert platform, now has 12,000 subscribers who receive tailored updates on crime in their area.
Maintaining the front line
As part of the governments re-balancing of the economy the police have had to absorb their share of budget cuts.
These cuts are likely to continue and the ambition is to protect the front line as much as possible.
I am pleased that so far front line numbers have been maintained and cost reductions achieved through back office savings, the use of technology and through collaborating with other forces.
However, the scale of future reductions needed means that nothing can be guaranteed.
THE FUTURE OF POLICING
There are many achievements I am proud of over the last two years. But the biggest challenges still lay ahead.
These centre around the budget reductions faced across the public sector, including the police, which will have an impact on local policing in the future.
We are all familiar with terms such as “age of austerity” and “rebalancing the economy”.
We are expected to “do more with less”. In business terms we need to balance the books of the UK economy.
This requires cost reduction across the public sector and policing is no exception.
Police budgets have taken a big hit over the last few years and will continue to do so in the next few.
I am currently working with the Chief Constable to save £21 million over the next four years.
So how do we save £21 million and still maintain a police force people have confidence in?
One way is the adoption of new technology to improve efficiency. If I can use technology to maintain police numbers then I will.
The ultimate aim is to allow the public easier contact with the police, at the same time enabling the constabulary to become paperless allowing more efficient sharing of information across the criminal justice system.
We are also reviewing the various ways that the pubic contact the police.
We are constantly monitoring the 101 call service to improve its effectiveness.
I am aware that some people experience delays with the service and we are looking at several ways of improving it.
Online facilities are being improved. And we are also trialing police “contact points”, having a regular, advertised police presence in places like supermarkets where people can go and talk to local officers.
There remain tough times ahead with difficult decisions to be made as policing adapts to new ways of working.
But readers can be assured that there is a professional and capable team in place to ensure we continue to deliver effective policing that the public can have confidence in.
We will do this with integrity, transparency and will remain accountable to you, the public.