I've lived in wonderful Staffordshire nearly all of my adult life. I was so lucky to develop a successful business which I sold, aged 38, and soon after got involved with community issues. That sparked my interest in politics and I have been trying to get things done which benefits local people and our area, ever since.
I was elected as Staffordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner for the first time in November 2012 and was re-elected in 2016. Much of that time has been spent keeping police finances on track and finding as much money as possible for the front end of policing... officers on the ground. The success in doing that has been widely recognised but it goes without saying, it's been, and remains, a constant battle. I have prioritised, with a multi-million pound investment, the rollout of new cutting edge technology to replace outdated, often unusable, police systems.
That work is ongoing and is starting to improve policing. It's included the roll-out of the first ever mobile technology devices to all officers across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent which helps to provide more visible policing in communities. I was the first Police and Crime Commissioner to invest in Body Warn Video for all frontline Police Officers and PCSOs. It's made a huge difference in many ways and 4 years after we did that in Staffordshire, over half the police services in the UK have followed suit.
I believe in stronger public accountability in policing. That is why I established Safer Neighbourhood Panels across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent so that people can regularly hold their local police commanders to account for police performance in their area. I have become a regular voice on policing and criminal justice nationally, particularly with regard to a better 'end to end' criminal justice system and the impact of mental health on society and the work of policing. I've also been vocal in all forums against regional ‘super-forces’ and those senior police officers nationally who believe the most local community policing is a luxury that cannot be afforded. They are so wrong!
Launching Staffordshire’s Police Cadets Service is another 2012 election promise I have kept. The idea is to develop life skills, build confidence and encourage good citizenship for 14 to 17 year olds. It's gone from strength to strength with 300 youngsters learning and developing all sorts of life skills and I am delighted that the principle has now been adopted by many PCCs and forces across the country. It’s enhancing young lives and improving future prospects for hundreds of youngsters.
My second term in office aims to ensure policing in Staffordshire is fit to face changing crime and different threats. With technology impacting upon every aspect of our lives the need to redesign the way policing works is crucial. Changing crime, new societal challenges and continued pressure on finances means strong leadership from policing and politicians is important.
My journey as Staffordshire's PCC continues with an ambition to get done what our fabulous county needs and what the law enforcement professionals we all rely upon need to keep everyone safe.