Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has been exchanging views with the Prime Minister
Since my last column I’ve been to No10 to discuss policing issues with the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister. I was delighted to accept the invitation for the hour-long question and answer session with fellow PCCs, it is so important to have the opportunity for a frank exchange of views on policing and crime prevention.
I was pleased to hear the Prime Minster stress how important the PCC’s strategic role is for delivering the government’s commitment to recruit 20,000 additional police officers. Suffolk’s share of these additional officers will make a significant difference in the county with officer numbers up to over 1,300, which is the most officers we’ve had since I was first elected in 2012.
A wide range of topics were discussed in the session including the new Home Office Policing Plan measures, called the Beating Crime Plan.
Some of my fellow commissioners are concerned the Home Office requirements will compromise local mandates and our individual Police and Crime Plans. Whilst I completely understand these concerns, I do not believe there is much to be worried about in Suffolk. Having discussed the Home Office measures with our Chief Constable, I can reassure you the measures in the national plan are already prominent requirements in our draft Suffolk Police and Crime Plan which we will publish later in the year.
One issue raised at the session, that is causing a huge concern across the country, is the continuing threat from the illegal County Lines drug business. In the last three years excellent progress has been made in Suffolk, especially in the west where the number of active lines has reduced.
It was very pleasing to hear Kit Malthouse, the policing minister, single out Suffolk as an example of how effective a multi-agency approach can be in closing-down county lines activity. A huge amount of work has been done by the constabulary on County Lines and it was great to see this being recognised at such a high-profile event.
Meeting up with fellow PCCs gave me the opportunity to hear at first hand what is being done across the board to reduce the level of alcohol and drug-related violence especially in domestic situations. That is one of the main building blocks of the new government strategy in making our streets safer and cracking down on violence against women and girls.
I have personally promised to update the Home Secretary on the progress of our new domestic abuse perpetrator programme which, I believe, will help many offenders change their ways and turn away from abusive and intimidatory behaviour.
Many of us shared experiences of what our commissioning work delivers in support of young people to help them make the right choices in life.
The Home Secretary and Policing Minister are big fans of such work, and I was able to give some examples of what has been achieved in Suffolk through our Youth Intervention Fund which has supported thousands of our youngsters over the last few years to good effect. Specific mention was also made about the Volunteer Emergency Service Cadets and again it was very gratifying to hear of the support at the top of government. I was able to point out that Haverhill was home to the first ever emergency services cadet unit in the country (police and fire combined) – another first for Suffolk!
Placing the victim at the heart of all we do throughout the criminal justice system is something Boris and Priti Patel are especially passionate about, and I expect to see a renewed victim commitment from government departments during the next parliamentary session.
It was also really encouraging to discuss the need to help offenders change their ways with appropriate support and training coupled with employment opportunities and reduce re-offending.
The last point raised, concerned the significance of good policing as a support to economic growth and boosting inward investment and how significant the new freeport policies are, which I feel will benefit not only Suffolk but the whole of East Anglia and here our police force is ready to rise to that challenge.