Jason Ablewhite is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire.
It is three months since I started in the role of Police and Crime Commissioner.
On my first day, 12th May, I spent the morning walking the streets of Cambridge with front line officers. In those first two hours I met people weighed down with shopping bags, a group doing community payback, and homeless people living in disused garages. Like most places, there are many sides to a modern city.
I want my role to be as visible as possible both to the public and to the staff and officers of Cambridgeshire Constabulary. This is why I spent my first day out and about and in the subsequent three months continued spending as much time as I could meeting as many people as possible across the county in order to get a feel for people’s views and also to understand challenges faced by the Constabulary.
I wanted to get a feel for front-line policing, so I have been out with the Roads Policing Unit; been on a night shift with Cambridge City local policing team; accompanied officers policing the Secret Garden Party (a major music festival) in Huntingdon; listened to calls in both the 999 and 101 centres; and been on foot patrol in many of the County’s towns and cities. It is also important to look outside our own County and I have met with colleagues from neighbouring forces to discuss collaborative working across the region and I have seen how we are embracing new technology such as smart phones, tablets, body worn video cameras and drones to improve our efficiency and effectiveness.
Did it open my eyes? Was I shocked or surprised? Well, yes and no. I know about the problems that occur in both our urban and rural areas but seeing it up close, from the police perspective, you really appreciate what a fantastic job they do. It has confirmed many of the views I already had. For example, the impact of alcohol on the night-time economy. The risk to the most vulnerable members of our society of becoming victims of crime. The impact a few high level offenders can have in a local area.
There is a huge amount of work to do with the prospect of new powers and responsibilities for Police and Crime Commissioners likely in the future. But after my first three months in post I know that the people charged with making it happen are first class. I have been hugely impressed with the skills and commitment of both the team in my office and those I have met from the Constabulary. As I meet more and more people from different organisations, I can see a similar passion from them and a desire to work together for the greater good. This will be critical in the years ahead as it is by working together that we will have the greatest impact.
There is a continual battle to address the typical concerns of most people – such as traffic issues and anti-social behaviour – with the more focussed work of protecting the most vulnerable members of the community from abuse whether that be domestic abuse, sexual exploitation or cybercrime.
All that I have seen so far is helping me develop my new Police and Crime Plan that will address the many needs of the communities in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. I look forward to serving all the people of Cambridgeshire in the years ahead.