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Hectic Start - And Tough Issues Ahead, Says Commissioner


Click here to view the achievements of the PCC in his first 100 days

Cleveland’s first Police and Crime Commissioner has described his first 100 days in office as ‘hectic but encouraging’ and at the same time has warned that Government plans for massive changes in the way offenders are supervised could seriously threaten local efforts to improve the fight against crime and disorder.

Barry Coppinger says he has been hugely impressed by overwhelming support from such a wide range of agencies and organisations—and the general public—for his key priorities including retaining and developing neighbourhood policing, ensuring a better deal for victims and witnesses and working to reduce reoffending.

Since taking office on November 22nd he has embarked on a non-stop programme of meetings—including the launch of his ‘Your Force, Your Voice’ initiative, which will see him attend public meetings at all Neighbourhood Policing Team areas across the force—and he predicts that his workload will continue at the same pace.

Explains Mr Coppinger “I always knew that I would need to hit the ground running given the huge range of challenges—for example preparing my draft Police and Crime Panel for the next three years, drawing up the budget and proposed Council Tax precept for the coming year…and, of course, appointing a new permanent Chief Constable.

“But I was determined that I should not be office bound and that from day one I had to get out and about meeting everyone with a role to play in improving public safety and reducing crime…everyone from local MPs and councils, police officers and staff, the courts, prisons and probation services to organisations involved in supporting victims and witnesses, tackling the problems of alcohol and its impact on crime and disorder and representing the interests and views of young people.

“Above all I have tried to ensure that I really am able to properly reflect the views of local people and communities. Already I have attended over 20 meetings as part of the ‘Your Force. Your Voice’ programme which have certainly highlighted a range of the issues which affect people’s day-to-day lives—and they will be acted upon.

“In addition people can contact me through my website, as well as Facebook and Twitter…and I have recently held the first in a series of web chats.

“I believe there is an overwhelming desire across all parts of the community for people to work together in reducing crime and improving people’s quality of life, but I fear that our efforts could be seriously threatened by what I regard as the most worrying issue to come to light in my first 100 days—and that is the Government’s proposals to hand over management and supervision of the vast majority of offenders living in our community to private or ‘third sector’ organisations.

“The Government argues that responsibility for those classed as ‘high risk’ offenders would remain with the public probation service, but that it misleading. In reality it would involve only a relatively small number of offenders and the rest—including, for example, some sex offenders, other serious offenders, domestic violence perpetrators, those with mental health problems and child protection issues—would be removed from public supervision or accountability.

“What is also alarming is that it is proposed that contracts to private and third sector organisations would be awarded nationally, which completely flies in the face of the Government’s stated objective of creating Police and Crime Commissioners to give greater local accountability and transparency.

“I believe that this will be an issue which will become a major concern for myself and other Commissioners as we move into next 100 days and I certainly hope that we can come together to persuade the Government to think again.”


Posted on Monday 18th March 2013
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