Martyn Underhill Blog - 6th January 2014

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Force, partners, volunteers and the public for their hard work over the last year.

Since becoming Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner just over a year ago, I have put great emphasis on ‘working together’. With further cuts to our budget, there is no greater time to co-operate and to reduce the gap between the police and public. Crime continues to fall and public confidence in policing is rising. That is testament to the dedication, integrity and professionalism of our police officers, staff and volunteers. 

However, the funding settlement remains challenging. There are only so many efficiency savings that the Force can make and difficult decisions are having to be made. I remain committed to protecting neighbourhood policing to fight crime and to provide a reassuring presence across Dorset. Therefore, we have to look at other ways to save money. This week we announced plans to explore the concept of a strategic alliance with Devon and Cornwall. Both forces are facing ‘real and significant challenges, to achieve further savings above and over what has already been made. This process cannot go on indefinitely. It is not possible to continually withdraw resources from Force areas before it starts to have a detrimental effect on the communities we serve. We have examined all options carefully to provide efficient policing across the region and are continuing to seek viable options. I look forward to working with our neighbouring Force in examining whether this is the right option for Dorset and for our region.

However, we remain positive and continue to look for ways to address the funding issue. I am committed to strengthening the Force and investing in new technology to future-proof our abilities to fight crime. Earlier this week, I outlined my proposals to increase the police precept to 1.95% for 2014/15. This equates to 7 pence weekly increase, or a rise from £183.51 to £187.09 annually, for a Band D household. This will enable investment in the following priorities, to benefit Dorset residents.

  1. Recruitment of 16 new Police Officers
  2. 300 body cams for officers across Dorset, which will increase accountability, public confidence, convictions and capture the atmosphere in Domestic Abuse cases.
  3. A cyber crime awareness campaign
  4. Seven new vehicles to increase visibility and access to rural communities.

We must strengthen our Force for the future.

Volunteers are helping us on that journey. Through the addition of more volunteers, we are creating a more visible, approachable and responsive Police Force not only in the urban conurbations of Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth, but further afield in our more remote rural communities. We are committed to tackling rural crime and are investing in extra vehicles next year to reach our more remote communities. 2014 will also see more investment in new technology such as body cams and the recruitment of another sixteen Police Officers.

I am also delighted with the progress made in addressing victim needs. We have received national recognition for our new Dorset Victims Bureau which Victims Commissioner, Baroness Newlove officially opened in November. We are already holding victim forums and next year will see the launch of a new victim’s website. We have plenty to celebrate.

I would like to thank the Force, partners, volunteers for their dedication, commitment and professionalism. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the public for working with us on policing and crime issues.

We value your contribution in helping to make Dorset a safer place to live, work and visit. 

The festive period is a busy time for the police but I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

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