Talk Report: 2019-10-24
23 October 2019
Life as your PCC
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens visited Wells U3A.
Welcomed by Chairman Mike Lee, she spoke about her role, priorities and relationship with the Constabulary. She also discussed the part that local people can play in policing their service and why it is important that she hears from communities.
This respected guests first words were "Prison doesn’t work!”
She believed that a PCC should not be a political post, and she is indeed an independent, covering 17 MP constituencies in the south West.
A PCC is accountable to the general public, and one of her major objectives is to balance the budget for policing. In the present political climate this is difficult, as 700 officers have been cut with a 25% loss of budget.
She is a bridge between the police and public, and the Chief Constable is also accountable to her. She mentioned 60-70% of police crime work is non-crime, and domestic abuse constituted 1/3 of violent crime. Abuse and sexual exploitation of children is a huge problem.
8,000 people, including children annually are missing, 1,000 of these due to Alzheimer’s disease. Mental health has become a police problem due to NHS cuts and Sue Mountstevens has invested in mental health nurses to help with this.
She has ring-fenced the PCSO’s for neighbourhood policing, and has set up Independent Residents Panels to scrutinise this.
“Prevention,” she said, “is more important than punishment.” The police must have the right kit, and she has financed £12m in body cameras and laptops.
She highlighted the problem of prisoners leaving prison with only £46. No wonder re-offending is between 60 and 70%. 50% of Bristol Prison inmates re-offend. The Probation Service has failed, but the Government has promised further funding.
On a positive note, burglaries are down 9% in the last 6 months. There will be 137 new officers by 2021 and 900 officers will be recruited thereafter.
Rising knife crime has been addressed by sending 15 PCSO’s into schools.
For the first time Sue Mountstevens said she could see a light at the end of the tunnel. She insisted that the police want to make a difference every day in Somerset.
This was a fascinating talk given by an effective, empathic and passionate speaker that we are very fortunate to have as our PCC.