It is a sad fact that there are now less Police Officers in Wiltshire than when I joined them in 1984, Towns within the County have been developed significantly over the past decades but in contrast the Police numbers have diminished . This is non-sensical.
The Government has promised 20,000 additional Police Officers and I intend to lobby for as many additional officers to be allocated to Wiltshire as possible.
Visibility and accessibility is vital in both urban and rural areas to maintain public trust in policing. I will release as much funding as I can to the Chief Constable to increase front line resources.
Foot patrols and patrol cars in our towns and rural communities provide reassurance to the public. Having moved out of Swindon some years ago, I now live in a rural community where a Police presence is virtually non-existent.
I want to see that change and for rural locations to be adequately policed, and to get rid of the sense of abandonment many of these commuinities feel.
I want to bolster Police presence in our towns, and in particular town centres to create as safe an environment as possible.
2. ENSURING EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP THROUGHOUT THE SERVICE
Any organisation, department or team requires strong leadership to be successful and effective. I am a great believer in the team ethos where strong performance is appropriately recognised just as weak leadership and poor performance of teams or individuals is challenged.
Leaders should be inspirational in order to breed a culture where the service delivered the communities of Wiltshire is at the heart of everything they and their teams do. Individuals recognised as being strong performers or future leaders should be supported and helped in their development.
I aim to ensure that I support the Chief Constable in ensuring strong leadership is in place at all levels throughout the service without exception.
A recent Police Federation survey highlighted that morale, stress and mental health are major issues. I will work with Chief Officers to ensure that officers and staff are properly supported in their roles, and dismantle the current negative culture that exists.
3. POLICE PREMISES
Over the past decade or so, more and more Police Stations have been closed to save money, thus reducing the accessibility of Police to the public. This is far from ideal in my view.
Salisbury and Chippenham have been particularly affected by this. In my view the Police Officers,Police staff and public of Salisbury have effectively been abandoned over the past few years, with the additional logistical problem of the nearest custody suite being at Melksham, some considerable distance away.
Police resources are having to share premises with Council staff and whilst I can see a case for certain departments who are integrated into partner agencies working in this way, I strongly believe that frontline Police Officers and support staff belong in Police Stations and this is something I would look to address, particularly in the cases of Salisbury and Chippenham.
Despite my calls in 2020 for postponement of plans around the selling of Police Estate, the current PCC has pressed on regardless and is trying to rush through the sale of 10 Police Stations and green field area at Parkfields, Devizes. He has made no plans for replacement of these stations.
Whilst I accept there is no place for sentiment and the service must move with the times, the necessity to sell, and the manner in which these sales have been conducted warrants a robust review.
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