Philip Seccombe is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire.
It’s been almost 100 days since I was privileged to become Warwickshire’s second-ever Police and Crime Commissioner. The days have passed in something of a whirlwind since then – and I’m sure it is the same for many of the new intake of Commissioners. I doubt anyone coming to the role for the first time can be completely prepared for the sheer breadth of responsibility it brings. While the ‘police’ and ‘crime’ elements of the role are relatively straightforward to comprehend, I’m quickly learning that the ‘and’ has just as big a part to play…
So far I’ve dealt with everything from questions over the way police deal with cyclists riding through pedestrian areas through to the agreement of a multi-million pound contract to improve IT and telephony systems – with many other shades of variety in between. There are very few dull days in the life of a Commissioner.
Ensuring that policing is being delivered in a way that is responsive to the needs of local communities is hugely important. I have been out to meet as many people as possible to get their views (in between the numerous meetings which seem the staple of any form of public office). My first such engagement saw me join members of rural communities in the north of the county to hear first-hand their views and experiences of crime, while I have also been meeting our local MPs, council leaders, and community safety partners as I consult on my first police and crime plan.
Just as importantly, I’ve been out and about across the force area to talk to officers, PCSOs, staff, and volunteers to gain a more in-depth view of the policing world. I’ve been impressed by what I have found, with the dedication and professionalism of all those I have met shining through.
Police work is often challenging, demanding and at times dangerous – all points that were brought into sharp focus at the Police Federation’s recent Police Bravery Awards, which I was honoured to attend. I was delighted to be able to congratulate in person Warwickshire Police’s PC Sara Skinner on winning the Midlands Bravery Award; her coolness and determination to bring offenders to justice no matter the circumstances seems entirely typical of the attitude I have found across the force.
Holding the police to account is a key part of my work and, while it is still early days, I am pleased with the working relationship that Chief Constable, Martin Jelley, and I have established. It is cordial but constructive and while hard decisions will sometimes need to be taken, it is always with the aim of improving the overall service to the public.
My assessment so far is that the position here in Warwickshire is positive. Part of my role is to ensure that momentum is maintained in transforming what is an already good service for the public, into a great service. Each area within criminal justice and community safety – be it the police, courts, probation, victims services, or other partnership activity – brings its own challenges but also many good practices and opportunities, which we need to maximise. All the while we must also not lose sight of the need to continue to find better and more efficient ways of making Warwickshire safer for all our residents and visitors.