When I ran for election in 2016, I had an ambitious plan for our police force, and I have worked hard over the past four years to deliver on that plan for our residents. We have made good progress on increasing police numbers, tackling rural crime, and increasing the safety of our children. However, there is still more to do, and this is why I am seeking re-election next May.
Since 2016, I have led some far-reaching changes to policing and our criminal justice system across Northamptonshire. Working closely with the new Chief Constable, Nick Adderley, we are building a police force which is modern and responsive, tackling crime and making our communities safer.
Despite funding challenges, we are investing over £20 million a year extra into frontline when compared to my coming into office. This additional investment has increased police officer numbers to provide a better service to the most vulnerable members of our communities, including additional resources for response to domestic burglaries, domestic abuse victim support and investigation, missing persons, and sexual offence investigations.
Early intervention has been at the heart of my Police and Crime Plan. I really believe that prevention is better than cure, and by tackling the root causes of crime with children and their families at an early stage, we can reduce the risk of involvement in anti-social behaviour and crime for future generations. I invested in a team of early intervention support workers to work directly with families identified by police and partners, and set aside funding for an outreach youth service to bolster the support we offer to young people and to work with them to engage in positive activities in their communities. I have supported the police lead early intervention hub and Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), and my office successfully led a bid with police and partners to secure £627,000 additional investment to work directly with young people at risk of involvement in gangs and crime. We have increased resources for the Public Protection command to enable more frequent and effective monitoring of convicted sex and violent offenders in our local communities.
Tackling domestic abuse and violence in the home is also a key priority, and a measure of success has been the increase in the number of Domestic Abuse Prevention Orders issued by Northamptonshire Police more than any other Force in the East Midlands. These are court orders made after reports of domestic abuse, and provide victims with the space to consider their future relationships, with powers of arrest and possible imprisonment for those that breach them. We are also a pilot area for the use of conditional cautions as a response to domestic abuse, allowing people the opportunity to engage with programmes to support them to change rather than receive a police caution.
Tackling rural crime was a key concern for residents and by working with rural communities and farmers, I have developed a rural crime strategy which has enabled me to increase policing patrols in our villages. We have also been engaging with local communities, listening to their concerns and offering advice and support on security measures. As a result of this work, we have recently seen a 30 per cent reduction in burglaries across our county.
We also carried out an extensive consultation with 1,200 people with mental health issues, ADHD, or autism. This was to understand their experience of the police or criminal justice system, and to develop a programme of activity based on their feedback to enhance services and better protect the public.
We have embedded a mental health street triage scheme, where police officers and mental health professionals work together to rapidly assess people in mental health crisis. This means they can be better cared for, and also reduce the amount of time that police officers need to spend at this type of incident.
In January 2019, I also took over responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service from the County Council. The Fire and Rescue Service had suffered from significant underinvestment because of the Council’s financial situation, and transfer has enabled me to give the service the dedicated support it needs to develop investment plans for the future.
In Northamptonshire, we have shown that collaboration can help improve the services we are able to deliver to residents in a more cost-effective manner. We are looking to increase efficiencies across the police and fire services in the future through integration of back-office functions and seeking opportunities to co-locate services in our communities. We already have a new joint police and fire service building at Weekley Woods in the north of the county, and through similar approaches in other parts of the county, we can deliver a more joined up service, whilst at the same time providing value for money to the taxpayer.
I also see our businesses as essential to keeping our local economy vibrant. I launched a cyber-security forum bringing together the police and business to provide briefings on keeping businesses safer online and to share security threats and updates. The forum is growing in number, and is able to provide live information on current threats and how to protect your business from them.
I am proud of what we have achieved in Northamptonshire. I am proud of the work my team and colleagues in the police and fire service are doing to make Northamptonshire safer. Together, we have delivered some long-term improvements, which I know will have real benefits to our front line officers, and provide assurance in communities across the county.