LISTEN: Police Crime Commisioner on New Jobs, Shutting Front Desks and a Rollercoaster Year in Dorset
3:49pm 13th November 2013
(Updated 12:02pm 14th November 2013)
Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner has defended the closure of front desks at local stations and says cuts have affected Policing in the county.
In a candid interview with Wessex FM one year on since he was elected to his post as Dorset's first ever PCC, Martyn Underhill reflects on a hectic 12 months gone and the challenges he thinks will face the force in 2014:
"I think I've made a difference, crime is down 8% since I was elected, we're catching 1 in 4 criminals in Dorset now compared to 1 in 5 last year, we're setting up our victims bureau next week only the second in the country, we saved the Marine unit and we've doubled the amount of volunteers in Dorset".
Martyn is proud when talking of his achievements so far and although Dorset remains the least funded force in the entire country he remains optimistic about the future, but says it has been hard making some tough decisions the past year:
"I have to shrink some of my estate, we're about to lose a 5th of our staff a 5th of our budget and buildings. And that's controversial and contentious and it's painful for me as a PCC."
"I can either lose a police officer or I can reduce some Police services like front counters and it's a difficult decision to make and it's one that I have to make. I would ask the public to bear with me we still need to find another 10 million pounds. The cuts are really starting to hurt."
Martyn took on the role of PCC for Dorset at a turbulent time when forces across the country were reeling from a continuous wave of government cutbacks. With stretched resources and fewer frontline Officers to work with he told us traditional Policing has been suffering:
"We are the worst funded Police force in the UK, we're on a cliff edge and if this carries on we're gonna have to do a strategic alliance with a neighbouring force. Cuts have affected our visibility and service because the force is shrinking."
For all of the difficult decisions our PCC has had to make he remains positive and sees a light at the end of the tunnel:
"In these times of cuts I'm so excited that we can bring new talent and new blood into the force, i'm looking forward to seeing our new Police Officers pass out Friday. We are recruiting 32 officers over the next 2 years.
I've always been optimistic about things I do, I really think we're seeing the end of the cuts now and I hope we are because it's a good thing for the people of Dorset and the people of Dorset."