ANNUAL REPORT 2020/21
FROM THE POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER
Representing the communities of County Durham and Darlington is a responsibility I take extremely seriously. It has been a privilege to serve as Police and Crime Commissioner since I was elected last May, and I take great pride in the many achievements that have followed. Many residents and organisations – and our own policing family including staff, officers, PCSOs, Special Constables and volunteers – have been a part of our journey and I would like to thank them all for their support and contribution to our success.
Last year, I published my first Police and Crime Plan, setting out exactly how I aim to deliver the improvements local people want to see in policing services over the next three years. Central to these has been my ambition to enhance services for victims of crime and I am pleased to say we have already transformed the support we provide by listening and learning from the lived experiences of survivors themselves. Earlier this year, I brought the provision of victims’ services under my direct responsibility to ensure appropriate support is available whenever it is needed and to maximise opportunities for improvement.
Further success came in January with the appointment of three new Victims champions to my team to further strengthen the voices of victims of crime and ensure the planning, policy and commissioning decisions I make reflect their needs.
Protecting women and girls from violence has been another key area of focus over the past year and we have been at the forefront of national efforts to deliver greater justice for sexual violence victims through Project Soteria. Durham Constabulary already has one of the highest charging rates for rape investigations in England and Wales and is playing a critical role in developing future reform.
I have also funded new support services for survivors of sexual violence to help individuals who have who have experienced rape and sexual assault including pre- trial therapy and sexual violence counselling
My plan to put more police officers back on our streets is well established with the continued rollout of the government’s Operation Uplift programme which will see our frontline grow by a total of 226 officers by the end of this year.
We continue to work hard to maximise the value of the public purse through the best use of our resources. The construction of our state-of-the-art custody and investigations hub at Durham Gate, near Spennymoor, due to be ready in the spring of 2023, will lead to significant efficiencies which will be reinvested into frontline policing while up to £6M of the £20M cost could be spent in the local area.
Nationally, I have secured over £1M from the Home Office’s Safer Streets scheme this year to crackdown on neighbourhood crimes, and increase women’s safety and additional Ministry of Justice (MoJ) funding to increase investment in support services for survivors of abuse and sexual violence.
I was recently appointed by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) as Joint Lead for Environment and Sustainability, and Alcohol and Substance Misuse, and Deputy Lead for Road Safety and Emergency Service Collaboration. Through my national policy work and the scrutiny I undertake through my accountability meetings, I will continue to ensure Durham remains at the very forefront of innovation.
Policing is an ever-evolving landscape and many challenges lie ahead, including the need to reduce the unacceptable levels of death and serious injuries on our roads. There has already been significant investment from my own office and partners to develop technical resources to support this work and I will be monitoring the impact of these measures very closely.
Elsewhere, we are responding robustly to the growing demands placed on our 999 and non-emergency 101 services and improving the timeliness of those calls being answered. I have agreed substantial investment to recruit additional call handlers to ease pressure on calls for assistance and this will continue to be an area I will closely scrutinise.
I will also continue to fight at a national level for a fairer funding formula to deal effectively with the rising complexity in demand.
As this year has shown, adversity brings opportunity and so I am looking forward to stretching the boundaries of what we believe is possible to bring the people of County Durham and Darlington the services they deserve. Your support makes it happen and together we will make a difference.