Angus Macpherson is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon

May 2020 is the month when PCCs across the nation go to the country in the hope to be voted in for the first time or to be re-elected. For me, it’s also a poignant time; I step down after eight years in the job.

Back in 2012, Police and Crime Commissioners replaced Police Authorities; I was one of those fortunate to be elected as Wiltshire and Swindon’s first PCC then, as well as being re-elected in 2016.

Unlike the old Police Authority, my office encompasses much more than day-to-day policing.

In addition to holding the Chief Constable to account and financially supporting the Force, I commission a range of services to the public through partners to help deliver the Police and Crime Plan.

This plan helps Wiltshire Police prioritise what they do, and how to achieve the best outcomes with partners and the public. Its four priorities are:

  1. Prevent crime and anti-social behaviour
  2. Protect the most vulnerable people in society
  3. Put victims and witnesses at the heart of everything we do
  4. Secure a quality police service that is trusted and efficient

Since becoming PCC, I have worked with many very talented and motivated people in the Wiltshire Force to help me deliver this plan, including doing the following:

  • Setting up of Community Policing Teams – bringing neighbourhood officers, emergency responders and investigators into teams tailored to meet local people’s needs.
  • Citizens in Policing – increasing the number of Special Constables to 242 and embedding them into Community Policing Teams.
  • Establishing Police Cadets and the Mini Police Scheme. Also, the support from many community volunteers like Community Speed Watch and Neighbourhood Watch helps bolster policing work.
  • Organised Crime Partnership Board – multi-agency panel coming together to harness expert knowledge to support and help the police fight the high end of criminality by targeting organised crime gangs.
  • Child Sexual Exploitation – I have approved more investigators to target people viewing and sharing indecent images of children.
  • Cyber-crime – I funded the setup of the Digital Investigation and Intelligence Unit (DIIU) to target online criminality.
  • Mental Health – the introduction of “triage” staff from Avon and Wilts Mental Health Partnership in our Crime and Communication Centre (where 999 and 101 calls are answered) to be on hand 24/7 to give advice to officers on the ground and call handlers who are having to assess and manage people in mental health crisis.

My office also commission services like:

  • Horizon Victim and Witness Care service – set up in 2015 to provide a single point of contact for vulnerable victims and witnesses who find themselves in the criminal justice system. By the time Horizon celebrated its third birthday in 2018, nearly 11,500 vulnerable victims had been offered help.
  • Restorative Together established – involving restorative justice training for 500 community policing staff who now arrange meetings with victims and offenders. It’s proven to really help victims who can perhaps achieve some “closure” and significantly deters offenders from reoffending.

It has been my commitment to introduce the latest technology, like laptops and mobile phones, to help officers and staff transform the way they work. This has been paid for by the savings made after selling off out of date police buildings, as well as scrapping the ranks of Chief Superintendents and Chief Inspectors. Technology enables us to do away with certain ranks and some estates without compromising police work.

The PCC role is not just a job

My role is exactly that, a role – it’s more than just a job.

Despite criticism and resistance from some members of the public about the position, I believe in this role and the potential it has to make a difference; an elected commissioner who holds the police accountable for the benefit of the public who, in turn, are given a direct say in how their council tax is prioritised and spent on the police and other services which protect and help people.

More to do

This may be my last year but there is still more to do.

This includes continued investment for the on-going development of the Force website for people to access self-service information when needed, including online crime reporting.

I will also focus on attracting people from all backgrounds to join or volunteer with us so we can be even more reflective of our diverse communities in the county.

These aims can only be achieved by the Force with the collaboration of many partners, including my Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC); a relationship which continues to grow and evolve.

When I stand down in 2020, and a new commissioner takes the reigns, no-one will know what demands there will be on police officers and staff, what threats will face us and what new crimes will appear.

However, I believe that whatever the future holds, the hard work of Wiltshire Police, its staff, the OPCC, and partners, along with the support of the public, will stand our county in good stead to face whatever is over the horizon.