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- The Reformer Blog
22 May 2015
Two weeks ago the people of Britain went to the polls in an election billed as “the closest in a generation” and overwhelmingly returned a Conservative Government. This has secured the position of directly elected and accountable Police and Crime Commissioners and provided the opportunity to build on it.
In next week’s Queen’s Speech I want to see the Government bring forward legislation that does exactly that – puts better public services, crime prevention, community protection and victims at its very heart.
Firstly, I envisage a future where Police and Crime Commissioners have more responsibility for how their emergency services operate. I want the Queen’s Speech to include announcements which explore changes in governance arrangements that would enable PCCs to become the appropriate authority for Fire and Rescue Services. This is something that I have been at the forefront of in Northamptonshire, where we have been merging teams between the Police Force and Fire and Rescue Service and exploring where they can work much more closely together.
By enabling these changes, we will be able to pool the budgets between the two organisations, create a joint police and fire precept paid for by local taxpayers, allowing the Fire and Rescue Service to become more directly accountable to the public.
Secondly, I want the Government to be much more proactive in preventing crime from occurring in the first place.
We need to intervene early in people’s lives to prevent them from commencing an offending lifestyle. We know that some children and young people are already well embarked on a life time of offending at the age of twelve and we must bring forward measures which allow greater flexibility in the sharing of information across agencies in order for us to better identify those who are at most at risk of offending and put in place programmes which divert those most at risk of taking the wrong path in life.
When people do offend, we need to encourage them to change their behaviour. In Northamptonshire we have been piloting the use of sobriety bracelets with a view to joining the Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirement (AAMR) scheme.
This utilises the conditional caution system, by imposing a period of sobriety on an offender where alcohol has been a causal factor in the reason for them committing an offence instead of being formerly charged with an offence.
The offender wears a tag which monitors every thirty minutes their skin perspiration to detect whether any alcohol is in their system and feeds back that information to the force. If alcohol is detected, they are rearrested for breach of caution and dealt with in the normal way through the criminal justice process.
Our pilot is a clear example of how the Criminal Justice System can innovate to change offender behaviour and reduce reoffending.
Finally, I would like to see the Government go much further than simply putting the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime on the statute books.
I want the Government over the course of the next parliament to devolve the witness care function to Police and Crime Commissioners, to enable them to formerly join that function with the localised victim function.
I want them to formerly recognise the rights of victims of serious injury and their families in the case of fatalities of Road Traffic Collissions. For too long their needs have gone unnoticed because it is simply too difficult to define what is meant by “serious injury.” In Northamptonshire we have proven that this can be done, by our innovative relationship with the road support charity, Road Peace, which provides both telephone and face to face emotional support.
In conclusion, whatever actions we take over the next five years we must continue to deliver better public services in a much more efficient and cohesive manner than we have done in the past. We must focus on managing down demand, increasing community resilience and continue to put those who we as public servants are there to work for right at the heart of everything we do.
I shall be watching closely the Queen’s Speech next week with huge interest about what the Government will prioritise over the next year.
Adam Simmonds, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner