Wherever people live they have a right to expect as safe an environment as possible. Being accustomed to higher crime levels in an area, and therefore accepting it, must be challenged. Parts of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire have higher levels of crime but that doesn’t mean it should be accepted as the ‘norm’, or that the area is less important.
The causes and effects should be tackled with greater rigour than before in those places. We need new ways to provide information that’s joined up, and communicate it in a meaningful way, and at a time that suits you, me and everyone else. Too many people who become involved, for whatever reason, with policing and criminal justice find they have to fit ‘the system’ rather than ‘the system’ fitting them.
This can even be true for police officers and other professionals working within ‘the system’ itself. As well as being incredibly frustrating, it’s costing tax payers far more than it should do and the quality of service as well as the outcomes for everyone involved could be so much better. It’s time to raise the bar.
Making policing more accountable has been at the heart of my Safer, Fairer, United Communities Strategy. We've ensured olice recording of crime improves. Staffordshire Police are now at the top of the tree nationally on the accuracy of crime recording. There are now 130 local people involved in the new Safer Neighbourhood Panels I've established in each of the local policing areas. Those Panels hold the area's local commander to account for his or her area's police performance.
It's working and getting local people more involved in shaping policing in their area and making policing more accountable. The SNPs follow the success of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent wide Ethics Transparency & Audit Panel (ETAP). It works a bit like a Select Committee and is made up of a dozen members of the public from across the whole are who are becoming expert citizens.
They 'deep dive' into complex policing issues and have not only had their work recognised nationally, their reports and recommenadations have changed for the better the way police use Tasar, apply Stop and Search criteria and use bodycams. It's getting people involved like never before and it's making policing in Staffordshire more accountable than ever to the communities they work for.
And from my point of view I've enjoyed speaking face to face, at public meetings, Rotary Clubs, WIs, supermarket surgeries, community groups infact anywhere that wants to get involved. As of December 2015 I'd met with nearly 25,000 people face to face. It's been invaluable and brilliant... and I've enjoyed every monent! But most importantly it's improving police accountability, planning and performance.