People broadly want to be assured that when they need the police, they will be there on demand in a timely and effective way. But it’s also about communities seeing visible policing in local areas. It provides reassurance and that sense that police aren’t too far away if needed.
Shrinking budgets means it's been tougher to achieve for many years. The year before I was elected, the old Police Authority agreed a police reduction of over 200 officers in Staffordshire. But I think savings should be made in other areas before cutting policing's most valuable asset... police officers and pcsos who work at the sharp end.
My office (the OPCC) has worked closely with the police service, bringing new expertise and better financial management and savings in the expenditure that supports policing… buying things, running estates and fleet, joining up some functions with other parts of Staffordshire’s public sector and reducing technology costs.
It means more of the available budget now goes to front line policing than ever before in Staffordshire. And brand new investment in mobile technology means officers can get more of the information and systems on the move in communities, without needing to go back to base endlessly. At the end of 2015, four months into the mobile rollout, visibilty of community policing is rising and the ambition I set out for 250,000 extra hours policing back into local towns and villages and neighbourhoods is looking highly likely to be achieved by the end of 2016 as I promised.
That's equivalent to slightly more than 100 extra officers on the beat timewise but for just one eighth of the cost. It's about thinking differently, being clear that you can get more out of existing finances if it's spent better and not being afraid to do things differently.
We've made only limited progress on rolling out highly visible part time police posts to give a greater sense of policing presence in areas that have historically had less than acceptable police presence. We've started, we've done a some handfuls of them but not the big numbers I wanted. If I get the chance after May we'll be cracking on with more!