To residents of Salisbury,
I want to extend my thanks to the serving and retired police officers and staff from Salisbury, and local residents who have contacted me with their questions, observations and feedback about local policing in Salisbury. Like the thousands of people I have spoken to over the last few years about policing, I believe that officers and staff in Salisbury, as well as across the rest of Wiltshire and Swindon, deserve to have great leadership, the best resources, a modern working environment, be well equipped, and feel supported and confident when carrying out their duties.
It is an inescapable fact that Wiltshire Police is one of the worst funded forces in the country. I believe this is in part due to the current PCC having no, or limited, political influence. I know that Wiltshire Police has some of the best officers and staff in the country and I want to support the Force with strong leadership and governance. If I am elected in May I will use all my political experience and influence with stakeholders and politicians to make sure we get better funding for Wiltshire Police. Whilst daily operational decisions are left to the Chief Constable and colleagues, part of the PCC role is to use all their political influence to support the Force to have a greater voice in the Home Office with a focus on funding. Better funding enables us to have more resources. It’s as simple as that. We need more resources to close the gaps between the demand officers face and the numbers of people we have available to respond to that demand. This is why if I am elected as your PCC I have already committed to funding 100 extra police officers to work in our communities and strengthen our front line.
I know from talking to officers and staff and from feedback from retired colleagues, that the working environment in many parts of the Force is modern, well equipped and supports closer partnership working whether internally between departments or with the local authority. That said, some of the police estate is very shoddy, outdated and doesn’t always support the efficient delivery of policing or meet the public’s expectations. That needs to change.
It is easy to make sweeping statements about the specifics of the police estate in a political campaign – easy sound bites to illicit votes but that isn’t reality for serious candidates who know that there is a whole world of demand analysis plus operational and financial considerations required to support change. Candidates don’t have access to that sort of information, which is why you won’t hear me making hollow promises. What I can tell you is that if I am elected I will review the police estate across the entire Force area, including custody arrangements and the number of stations the public can access. In addition, I will be asking the Chief Constable to carry out a root and branch review of policing arrangements in the Salisbury area. And when I say I will review the police estate, I don’t mean with a view to tinkering around the edges and making do. I reiterate what I have recently said, there is not a contract I won’t have unpicked if doing something differently is the better option for the public and for officers and staff. I will not be constrained by decisions that have been made in the past and that don’t meet the police needs in 2021 and well into the future. Our residents deserve to have the best policing possible and that is what I intend to enable the Chief Constable to deliver.
Good policing is more than just about the buildings but a number of issues have been raised about the accommodation for officers and staff at Bournehill that I will want the Chief Constable to resolve as a matter of urgency. These issues include security, access to equipment, limitations of space, ability to efficiently interview alleged offenders and to be able to process people who in yesteryear would have been arrested. To make a success of co-locating public servants from different organisations together requires a huge cultural shift, which needs strong and consistent senior leadership. If I take up office in May, this is one of the things I will discuss with the Chief Constable and colleagues as well as remedying the day-to-day issues that make the lives of officers and staff difficult.
I have made it clear in my campaigning that I want policing in Swindon and Wiltshire to be visible, effective and robust. If I am elected in May that campaign plan will be the basis of my police and crime plan. In order to deliver the police and crime plan, officers and staff need to have the right leadership, the right accommodation, the right number of vehicles and the equipment and technology needs to be the best we are able to provide. I cannot expect officers and staff to put themselves in harm’s way if they don’t have all of these things and if I become the PCC in May I will hold the Chief Constable to account for delivering what is needed, no ifs, no buts and no maybes.
For those of you who need the reassurance, I can promise you that my team, who have a wealth of operational policing experience, will support me with my commitment to ensuring the police in Salisbury are listened to, and that officers and staff are resourced and equipped by the Chief Constable to do their jobs. I won’t be paying lip service to what needs to happen. If things need to change, they will change. If local policing arrangements need to change, they will change. If improvements to the partnership environment need to be made, improvements will be made. If we need to be bold and do things differently, we will be bold and do things differently.
I may not have walked a beat 35 years ago but I know how to govern and I know how to get things done, I know how to lead and I certainly know how to hold senior officers to account for their performance. I want Wiltshire Police to be one of the best forces in the country with the highest morale again, where criminals think twice before peddling drugs, violence and abuse. With the right leadership and governance I know this is achievable.
To residents of Salisbury,