Police and Crime Commissioner's Blog on Ten Districts in a Day Tour
Sometimes you forget just how big Hertfordshire is, but when you spend a day driving around it you soon realise its real size. I did just that recently, when I spent a day crossing the county visiting all 10 districts promoting my new Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan.  

We covered 150 miles and made 15 visits, mainly to key stakeholders and partners to discuss themes from the new plan which is currently in its consultation period until January 16th, 2017.

By law I have to produce a plan within the first year of being elected as PCC. This is the third version of the strategy, called “Everybody’s Business”. It’s named this, because I think we all have a responsibility to help keep our beautiful county safe, and I was pleased to meet so many people doing just that.
An early morning drive along misty roads took me to the village of Little Gaddesden in Dacorum, who’ve recently had a Speed Indication Device installed through the Road Safety Fund.

I had a chance after that to meet with the new Governor at the Mount Prison in Bovingdon. I want local people to have a greater say in how offenders are managed and I’m proposing local oversight of how rehabilitation works in Hertfordshire. A quick car journey through Watford into South Oxhey and I had a quick chat with one of the projects, called ‘ You Can,’  which help adults with complex needs – people who can often end up in contact with the police, but with the help of projects like this, can be given the support to transform their lives.

In a visit to Kingfisher Court, in Radlett which is run by the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT), I met the managing director, Sandra Brookes. The Trust provides mental health services in Hertfordshire and we work very closely with them around providing support for people in mental health crisis, to whom the police are often asked to respond. 

We have a proud record in Hertfordshire of not putting such people in police cells and Kingfisher Court provides a superb health-based facility where the appropriate care can be provided.  We are also working with the Trust on expanding street triage services across Hertfordshire where police and mental health professionals respond jointly to people in crisis.

I then travelled into St Albans and visited the local Fire Station. An important part of my Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan is to improve the ways in which blue light services work together so we can provide a better service to the public. I met fire fighters to discuss the work they are already doing to improve community safety and the opportunities we have for the future.

Staying in St Albans, I paid a brief visit to the Crown Court.  A major new focus of my second term in office will be on the criminal justice system and particularly how it can provide a better service to victims.  There are too many delays and inefficiencies at the moment and I want to encourage all the agencies involved to work more closely together to tackle some of the problems.

I visited the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, to speak about the partnership work we do there, particularly around restorative justice and then moved on to Welwyn Garden City to visit  Beacon, Hertfordshire’s victim care centre. While there I met staff who have been doing brilliant work in supporting many thousands of people since I launched this service 18 months ago.  I now want to build on the success of Beacon and expand the range of services it can provide.

My journey continued to Stevenage to visit BeNCH Community Rehabilitation Services (CRC) and the National Probation Service, to discuss ways of working more closely together to reduce re-offending. We need to make sure offenders get the right support and supervision so that they are not drawn back into criminal behaviour.

Another purpose of this engagement day was to highlight my commitment to protecting local policing, and I saw a great example of this in Hitchin when I met Chief Inspector Julie Wheatley at the local police station.  Julie is one of 10 Chief Inspectors running local policing teams in each borough and district in Hertfordshire. They are all committed to providing an excellent policing service in their local patch and because they are local, they can be accountable and visible to their local community for how they do it.

Next it was on to East Herts and a local business which is doing its part to promote community safety. Insurance brokers, Daines Kapp in Ware, have signed up to my Employer Supported Policing scheme which encourages people to join the Special Constabulary by ensuring they are given some additional paid leave each year to do policing duties.

I then found time for a meeting with local councillors in Hertford before moving on to see a further example of the success of our volunteering strategy in action when I met our local police Cadet group in Turnford.

My whirlwind tour concluded in Watford where I took a look at its thriving night time economy and some of the policing challenges it poses. It was a long day but a very rewarding one and a reminder not only of what a great place Hertfordshire is in which to live and work, but of the great people who are doing their bit to keep it that way.

My draft plan is now out for consultation and I want to know what your views are on it.  I urge you to have your say and share your comments through the online survey on the PCC website www.hertscommissioner/plan.  You can also send your comments to the.plan@herts.pnn.police.uk or by letter to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, 15 Vaughan Road, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 4GZ by 16th January 2017.

Finally, I would like to finish by wishing you and your families a very peaceful Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017.