Across Norfolk people tell me how hard it is to communicate with the Police and how often they do not get the response they expect. Over the last ten years local Police stations have been closed and I hear many concerns about the response from the 101 service or the website. Police Community Support Officers were cut. Neighbourhood policing teams do run community engagement sessions but these are no substitute for regular contact. In the Norwich South Police area a team that included PCSOs and Police Officers now has only 7 full-time members – similar story all over the County. Worse still, in some parts of Norfolk people tell me they have given up reporting crime.
The Conservative PCC, Lorne Green, has made little effort to genuinely engage with you, despite this being one of his top priorities. All over the County, when I speak to voters, no-one can say when or where he last gave them a chance to air their views. In the last three months I have telephoned over 1200 voters and had detailed conversations with nearly 400. Across Norfolk, over the same period, Labour Party members have talked on the phone with over 3,500 voters. We are listening to you. You know best what your communities need. As PCC I will take every opportunity to make sure you get to shape Norfolk’s Police & Crime Plan. That means active engagement with local groups and community representatives not just empty consultation that changes nothing.
Young people are particularly at risk from criminals and becoming involved in crime. They are often excluded from consultation and engagement work focused on voters. As a former Director of Childrens’ Services I have spent many years working to make sure young people have ways to be heard and that their voice is listened to and acted upon. As PCC I will expand our engagement with children and young people. Specifically I will consult on whether we should collect and report more information about crime against young people. This will improve Police support for young victims of crime and reduce the impact of bullying, hate crime, domestic abuse, and exploitation.
As PCC it will be my role to hold our Police accountable for the way they work with the people of Norfolk and build trust with our communities. My focus will be on the effectiveness of their work in reducing and preventing crime, spending our money for the greatest impact. I want to see increasing diversity across the Police service. Above all, I will make sure that we continue to be policed by consent and that our Police are part of our Norfolk community. I will be accountable to you for making this happen and will make sure I engage fully with communities across Norfolk in doing so.