Blogs > May 2014
23rd May 2014
Mental Health Awareness week is an ideal opportunity to highlight the work that we are doing in Dorset, to help those with mental health issues. In late June, we launch the street triage pilot which will see mental health nurses join police officers on emergency call outs. This twelve month scheme will ensure that people suffering from mental distress receive the most appropriate care. It will also help to reduce demands on valuable police time. You can read more about the scheme HERE.
As Chair of the PCC Mental Health Working Party, I am also keen to help change the culture nationally in terms of the policing response to mental health and I have accepted an invite to speak at Cambridgeshire’s Mental Health Roundtable on 1 July. It is important for local areas across the country to work together across services to improve care. The Mental Health Concordat which can be viewed HERE aims to half the number of occasions that police cells are used as places of safety for people in mental health crisis, compared to 2011/12.
Another key event this week, which I fully support, is International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). It is important that we continue to support our LGBT communities in Dorset and encourage those who are being bullied to speak out. Dorset Police takes hate crime seriously and I welcome the recent launch of the new hate crime app, which I encourage people to use. It means those suffering from the traumatic effects of hate crimes can report it and find out where to seek help and support.
The rainbow flag will be flying at Dorset Police HQ, Winfrith this weekend to mark support from The Office of the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner and Dorset Police for LGBT communities across Dorset. As trustee to Bourne Free , I also look forward to marking the charity’s 10th anniversary LGBT parade in Bournemouth this July. It is important that Dorset is a county where everyone feels safe, and feels secure in being themselves.
Posted by Martyn Underhill at 10:39am
6th May 2014
We are facing unprecedented times in policing. The budgetary challenges that we and every Force across the country are facing are huge. We are expected to deliver more for less. We need to think creatively in order to protect frontline services. Police and Crime Commissioners are the new blood in a new world, operating in a less than forgiving landscape which I agree, needs further definition. I would echo the words of Kent PCC Ann Barnes in that ‘we are all trying to do things in different ways’. This makes our work harder to judge, but then our agendas and the communities we serve, vary significantly. What is fundamentally clear is that we are effectively engaging with our communities. I hold 25 forums a year and have direct contact with thousands through public meetings, surgeries and correspondence. We want to engage, and are engaging.
We are further narrowing the gap between the police and the public by boosting volunteer numbers and using innovative solutions such as multi-agency software platforms to enhance communication. Working together with partners has always been my philosophy and in difficult economic times, it is essential.
This leads me to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s recommendation to strengthen the role of the Police and Crime Panels. In Dorset, I would argue that we have taken huge steps to involve our panel in our decision making processes. For example, last Friday the Dorset Police and Crime Panel received an update from my Chief Executive, who is involving the panel in our discussions on whether or not a Strategic Alliance with Devon and Cornwall is the right approach. They have a role in helping us to shape future policy. Whether to go ahead with a Strategic Alliance is the biggest decision in my term of office and it is only right that the panel are involved in that process.
I would also agree that the process of appointing a deputy Police and Crime Commissioner must be transparent. I support the Committee’s recommendations for the 2016 election prospective Commissioner candidates to be required to name their intended deputy, so that they are elected on the same ticket. I believe that deputy PCCs can play an important role in supporting this very busy and full role but that is something the public should be aware of in their selection.
The concept of Police and Crime Commissioners is still in its infancy. However, I do believe that we are changing the landscape for the better. PCCs across the country are giving victims a voice and working hard to improve their journey. Last year I opened the Dorset Victims Bureau. Next year, it will become the first multi-agency victims bureau in the country. I am still learning, defining and developing my role in serving the people of Dorset but I am determined to listen and innovate to the best of my ability over the rest of my term in office. I welcome the debate which this report will generate. As always, I welcome your views. E.mail me firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner
Posted by Martyn Underhill at 10:06am
1st May 2014
After weeks of campaigning with other PCCs, I welcome news that the government has reversed its decision to cut support to families of people murdered before 2010.
This issue has received widespread support from the public and the Government was right to reconsider this decision. It is incomprehensible to think that funding could have been taken away from these bereaved families. As I mentioned in my blog last month, I wrote to the Policing Minister, Rt Hon Damian Green on March 19th, asking him to rethink the withdrawal of funding. A copy of that letter can be seen here. It is essential that those bereaved through homicide should be supported to help them come to terms with their loss and to move on with their lives. I thank the charities Support After Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM) and Mothers Against Murder And Aggression (MAMAA) for their support in helping us to reverse this decision
I would also like to thank the 2100 people who have signed my petition, asking for a change in the law to stop abusers retaining images of their victims. I am striving for 10,000 signatures to secure a Government response, followed by a desire to achieve 100,000 in the next few months. Dorset Police have made strides in this area, by confirming that they will remove images of victims from a sex offender’s laptop, ensuring that victims needs come first. The Force believes that to return images of the victims to the offender would be incompatible with the victims’ right to respect for their private lives under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I applaud their decision. The Chief Constable and I share the view that victims must come first.
That leads me to today’s report by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate which highlights significant issues in the CPS unit in Dorset. As a gatekeeper of victim care, I am ‘seriously concerned’ by this report which has identified significantly more ‘unsuccessful outcomes’ in magistrates courts in the Dorset area than the national average. I will be exploring those issues with CPS Wessex Chief Crown Prosecutor Kate Brown next week.
Since taking office, I have seen poorly performing court statistics, especially in Weymouth. The difficult question to answer is why? The Criminal Justice System is a complicated web of agencies. Locating the origin of the problem is like knitting fog. We can only hold an agency to account, be it police, courts CPS or whoever, if the blockage is properly identified, and the failing agency correctly highlighted. This led to my blog earlier this month, where I called on the Home Secretary to change the system and make the courts and the CPS more accountable to the public and to me, in my role as a Police and Crime Commissioner. This would allow us to take a closer look at the way in which the Criminal Justice System connects and better understand how failings occur. We cannot have offenders or victims slipping through the net. I will be working closely with the Criminal Justice Board to focus on these issues as a matter of urgency and to help put right what is obviously going wrong.
What we do know is that each poor performance statistic equals a failed victim. That is unacceptable.
I would love to know your thoughts. E.mail your views to email@example.com
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner
Posted by Martyn Underhill at 5:30am