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Protecting Our Children

29th October 2014

PCC Martyn UnderhillDorset may be one of the safest places to live in the country but nowhere is unaffected by the real and constant threat of child sexual exploitation (CSE). Child sexual exploitation is a crime that can affect any child regardless of their social or ethnic background. Tackling CSE demands a joined up response from all agencies. The Chief Constable and I have met several times to discuss the steps we are taking to protect children across Dorset. We know that communities are understandably worried about the threat posed by CSE and parents are concerned about their children’s safety online. Residents should be reassured by the Chief Constable’s letter to me which details the Force response to the recently announced recommendations from the ‘Independent Inquiry into CSE in Rotherham, 1997-2013’ and what the Force has and will be putting into place to tackle the threat to victims. I want to assure people across Dorset that the necessary work is being carried out to prevent CSE on an individual or organised basis.

We are investing more resources into CSE to pursue and prosecute those offenders who exploit vulnerable young people. With our partners we are working hard to identify those at risk of harm and work together to protect them. As well as informing young people on the signs of grooming, we want to build their trust so they feel confident in reporting abuse which can take many forms, such as the giving of gifts which can be misinterpreted as a symbol of genuine affection. Each type needs identifying and correct multi-agency procedures need to be adopted to prevent it. CSE is a toxic dangerous cancer that spreads throughout the fabric of society, and we must do all we can to stamp it out.

I promised to drive the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) agenda forward, and I have. It is important we share information to ensure a quick response to a child’s needs. This will result in earlier identification of vulnerable children and will improve communication between professionals from police, education, health and social care.

Neither I, the police or partners can ever promise to eradicate CSE, FGM or Slavery but what we can do is re-assure that we will be proactive, bold and determined to prevent any of these abhorrent crimes, and where they happen, prosecute them robustly.Children are our future and they deserve to grow up happy, in a safe environment. I pledge to do everything in my power to make that happen.

Regards

Martyn Underhill

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner

Posted by Martyn Underhill at 5:07am

Dorset PCC Marks World Mental Health Day

13th October 2014

PCC Martyn UnderhillWe need to make sure that the vulnerable receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place. They need to be looked after by a health care professional, not by a police officer and not in a police cell.

As we mark World Mental Health Day, it is important to remember that the police are often the first point of contact for a person in crisis. Many are taken to a police station as a ‘place of safety’ but often don’t receive the appropriate health care and support. In Dorset, through better training and greater awareness, the police have improved their identification of those in mental health related crises and the mental health street triage pilot is working well.

Earlier this week, our office attended a talk at Bournemouth University from Dorset Police and Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust about the mental health street triage project. We are doing so much more to help officers identify people who need support from health practitioners when they attend incidents.

The police have a critical role in helping those in mental health crisis but they should not be relied upon. Their role should be to identify the vulnerable and flag up issues to agencies but this only works if health services are available 24 hours a day. We need to foster closer relationships with health agencies not just in Dorset, but across the country and ensure that the vulnerable receive the most appropriate care.

Regards

Martyn Underhill

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner

Posted by Martyn Underhill at 12:19pm

Dorset PCC Response - Changes To Counter Service Provision and Estates

22nd September 2014

PCC Martyn UnderhillThis time last year, the Force announced their intention to close twelve out of the fifteen front office counters. As a result of my intervention and the response of the public, a year long consultation took place which leads us to closing six. I know that six front office counters are six too many, but we have to meet our cuts somewhere when we are losing 20% of our budget.

If you look at Sherborne, an eight hundred signature petition was handed to the Chief Constable. We did listen and Sherborne retains its policing front office counter presence. Likewise in North Dorset, the community highlighted specific concerns and as a result have retained their front office counter.

By way of context, Dorset Police conducted a public survey in 2012 to look at future counter service provision. Due to public concern over these initial proposals, this was repeated in 2014 to look at footfall going into police stations. In some locations, it is costing over £100 for each member of the public to walk into a police station and for their issue to be dealt with. It does not represent good value for money to keep stations open to deal with four or five people a day, especially when most issues are not police related issues.

I know the decision to close Ferndown is upsetting to many, but my message to staff and the public is please bear with us. The reality is that if you lose a fifth of your budget, you are going to lose a significant amount of resource including some estate. I have to make savings. Ferndown is a great facility but it is in the wrong location and the public of Ferndown deserve a police footprint in the centre of their town.

I would like to reassure you that in relation to these issues, the voice of the public has been listened to and has informed our decision making process. The Force is operating in hard financial times and difficult choices have to be made. We know these decisions will be disappointing news for some people and we are committed to providing alternative provisions where possible. In the face of huge budget cuts, I strongly believe that these decisions are the right ones to best meet the current and future operational needs of the county.

Regards

Martyn Underhill
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner

Posted by Martyn Underhill at 12:39pm

Dorset PCC Pays Tribute To West Midlands Commissioner Bob Jones

15th July 2014

PCC Martyn UnderhillI am deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden death of West Midlands PCC Bob Jones, which was announced this morning.

Bob was a straight talking politician, committed to serving the community over many years: as a councillor, the chair of the West Midlands Police Authority and the first Police and Crime Commissioner for the part of the country he loved so much.

Bob and I often had different visions but we respected each other and he always articulated his passionately held views with eloquence and consistency. I will miss his contribution to the world of policing but my thoughts today are with his family, friends and colleagues as they come to terms with this shocking loss.

He will be a hard act to follow.

Regards,

Martyn Underhill
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner

Posted by Martyn Underhill at 1:41pm

Valuing our Volunteers

10th June 2014

PCC Martyn UnderhillI would like to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of police volunteers, OPCC volunteers and Independent Custody Visitors (ICVs) who give up their time to support our communities. Their contribution is strengthening the public and policing partnership. They bring energy and fresh ideas and their dedication is valued. I am immensely proud of their contribution to the Force and to Dorset.

I am delighted to say our policing family volunteer network in Dorset now stands at 2054. Over 25,000 hours of voluntary service to Dorset Police has been logged by the team of Special Constables and Police Support Volunteers, who collectively total 368 at this time.

The number of Neighbourhood Watch/Home Watch Coordinators now stands at 1069. Watch groups are increasing across Dorset and 17,000 contacts are now registered. As a keen advocate of Watch Schemes, I am keen to encourage greater participation especially in areas of the county where Watch Groups are less established. We each have a responsibility to keep our communities safe, and this is one way we can work together to tackle crime.

Dorset Alert is another way we can pass messages to the community and I would urge people to join this new service. By registering, people can receive information on local crime and incidents, crime prevention and community safety messages. It is a fantastic way for people to stay connected to news in their areas.

I would like to thank all the volunteers for their dedication, commitment and professionalism. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the public for working with us on policing and crime issues

For more information about becoming a volunteer and the latest volunteer vacancies visit dorset.police.uk.

Regards

Martyn Underhill

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner

Posted by Martyn Underhill at 3:03pm

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