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BALANCING the budget, protecting the frontline and enhancing the services for vulnerable victims of crime. That s all in a year s work for Cambridgeshire s Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Graham Bright.
Today Sir Graham shared the draft of his Annual Report 2014-15 with Cambridgeshire s senior officers at his Business Co-ordination Board, in advance of it being sent to the county s Police and Crime Panel.
The report sets out how the Constabulary and the Commissioner, through his initiatives, have made progress against the Police and Crime Objectives set in the Police and Crime Plan over the past year, despite a year of tough funding challenges.
In the face of continuing budget reductions, the Commissioner and his team have worked with the Constabulary to produce a balanced budget that has maintained the number of uniformed police officers whilst still saving £4.9m in the 2014-15 budget.
Additional activities have been transferred from the Constabulary to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner such as responsibility for £35million of properties used by the Constabulary, setting the overarching direction of strategic communications across the two organisations and awarding £2.1million worth of funds to tackle crime and disorder and support victims of crime in the county. Extra resource has also been brought in to manage aspects of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire collaboration for which the Commissioner is responsible. This work is delivering a significant contribution to the overall goal of the three forces to scale back office costs by up to £20m each year savings that will in the future help Sir Graham maintain police strength in the county.
And today Sir Graham is attend the passing out ceremony for nine new police officers frontline support which could not have been possible without prudent financial management.
The capacity to improve public contact and increase volunteering in the county has also been bolstered. Victims of crime are already seeing the benefits and can request face-to-face support to cope and recover from their experience from specially trained in-house volunteers based in the Victims Hub. The Hub model, which was championed by Sir Graham, has been hailed nationally as pioneering and has already helped thousands of people.
Meanwhile, the implementation of mobile technology during the year is increasing the amount of time officers can remain visible to their communities, allowing them to send and receive real-time information while out and about and reducing the need for them to return to a fixed base to complete paperwork. The outcome of this enhanced visibility has been an increase in public satisfaction, with overall victim satisfaction rates at a high of 86.2 per cent.
Commenting on his Annual Report, Sir Graham said: It has been another turbulent year financially and this has continued to influence the way we deliver services in Cambridgeshire. Despite this, we have still been able to maintain police officer strength at a time when other forces have not been so fortunate. This is a remarkable achievement and testament to the dedicated team we have in place to implement robust resource management and service streamlining.
The frontline encompasses a whole army of people whose role is to protect the public, from police officers and civilian specialists to technology experts working round the clock to uncover the crimes that nobody reports. Safeguarding our capacity in this way will enable us to proactively target the emerging threats to public safety including cybercrime, child sexual exploitation (CSE), and modern day slavery as well as traditional offending such as burglary which remain a concern within our communities.
The investment we ve made in new technology has complemented this frontline work, providing officers working behind the scenes with the tools needed to gather compelling evidence and disrupt criminal activity as well as expanding the time public-facing neighbourhood officers can spend in their communities.
Sir Graham added: There has been a visible shift towards prioritising the victim in the past 12 months and this has given birth to a range of new services to support vulnerable people in the aftermath of a crime. The feedback so far from users of our Victims Hub has been extremely positive and over the next 12 months we aim to build on this positive start, helping many more people rebuild their lives and recover from their experiences.
Other highlights for the Commissioner in 2014-15 include offering victims the opportunity to meet their offenders in restorative justice meetings. This service is proven to help victims cope and recover and deter offenders from committing future crimes.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner has made progress on his Police and Crime Plan objective to support young people and divert them away from crime, launching the Youth Fund in April 2014 to engage youngsters in positive activities. Since the fund was launched, 25 grants have been awarded worth £33,960.
The Commissioner also launched his first Volunteer Police Cadet Scheme at the Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough. Similar schemes are now underway in Wisbech and Soham.