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Update from West Mercia Police & Crime Commissioner
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The latest news from John Campion, West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner

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Additional investment in policing is confirmed

I was pleased to confirm an additional £4.5m in West Mercia’s policing budget for 2017/18 this month, as well as a freeze in the police’s share of council tax.

The significant new investment in local policing will ensure there is continued investment in the force, enabling greater efficiencies for the future, whilst addressing the issues that matter most to our communities and ensuring better value for public money. The investment will come from West Mercia’s healthy reserves, which currently stand at over £50m.

This budget shows how I am delivering on my election promises: To make sure that policing budgets are spent as wisely and efficiently as possible, and that the money gets spent on what matters most to communities.

This includes improving police visibility, ensuring there is better customer service and that our most vulnerable people are protected. I also delivering on my promise to reform and modernise our police force, including new fit-for-purpose technology, bringing it up to date and in-line with other forces in the UK, and giving our officers the tools they need to do their difficult jobs better.

I am grateful to West Mercia's Police and Crime Panel for their support for my budget proposals. To find out more about the budget for the coming year, click here.
VIDEO: Improvements to 101 and 999 services
I've been pleased to see that there have been significant improvements made to the 101 and 999 call handling systems after I raised concerns on behalf of the public.

The average wait time for the 101 non emergency number in December 2016 was 33 seconds, meaning calls are answered around three times faster than they were in the summer of 2016. The average time to answer 999 calls has more than halved, to just 7 seconds in December 2016. The average wait times are now the lowest they have been in 18 months, leading to a large reduction in abandoned calls.

In a meeting in October, I held the Chief Constable to account to ensure a better service for communities. I was reassured to see an increase in training and supervision, the on-going recruitment of staff and the delegation of non urgent tasks to other departments, ensuring call handlers can focus on helping those who need it most.

Having listened to the concerns from the public, I promised that the service would improve, and this is a promise that I have delivered. There is no doubt about the level of commitment and professionalism, demonstrated by our call handling staff, and this coupled with the changes to technology being brought in as part of the wider OCC (Operations Communications Centre) project, will mean even greater improvements in the service in the years to come. Our communities deserve an efficient and effective police service, and I am committed to ensuring this is delivered.
Funding for Monkland
I have committed funding to try and resolve a road safety issue that has plagued a Herefordshire community for more than 30 years.

I promised that I would listen to the concerns of communities and be responsive to them.
So when a community, that I serve, come to me with an issue they desperately want to get resolved, I want to do all I can to support them.

Last month, I brought partners together (Herefordshire County Council, Monkland Parish Council and West Mercia Safer Roads Partnership) to discuss issues around the A44 that runs through Monkland, which has seen a number of crashes including one fatality.

Residents have concerns about the speed limit being too high for a particular section – a bridge that is positioned on a sharp bend.

The group came together again this week, along with Balfour Beatty Living Places, Herefordshire County Council’s official partner for highways, to discuss the plans. In order to see something done for this community, I agreed to contribute £4,000, with a further £1,000 being provided by Monkland Parish Council. The money will be spent on new signage which will aim to reduce the speed of motorists entering Monkland from the Leominster direction, by highlighting the sharp bend. Balfour Beatty will also look at solutions for other areas within the parish which suffer from speed related issues.
I'm extremely pleased that we have been able to find a resolution so quickly, and that we have had full support from all those involved. This stretch of road has been responsible for too many incidents for us not to act quickly and prevent any more. I hope that the new signs will act as a warning to those travelling through Monkland and, as a result, we see fewer incidents.
Malcolm Weatherhead, from Monkland Parish Council, said: “On behalf of Monkland and Stretford Parish Council, I would like to thank John and his team for the support given for our concerns over the A44. We have been trying to reduce the speed limit for over 30 years, so we hope that the work being done on the bridge will help a great deal.”
Community Ambassador round-up
 
My Ambassadors have been busy across West Mercia. Here's a monthly round-up of who they've met with:

Photos clockwise: Dan Guerche attended a PoacherWatch meeting with Herefordshire PCSO Hayley Cohen. Graham Oliver met with Oswestry's new Mayor, Paul Milner, following an Oswestry PubWatch meeting. Dan Guerche went to visit Music Pool to find out what work they're doing with Herefordshire communities. Graham Oliver was quizzed by young people as part of a youth club's event to find out more about politics. Dan Guerche went on patrol with PCSO Dick Allford to meet local businesses and discuss the use of CCTV in Kington Town Centre. Graham Oliver met with police officers for the Ford Community Day.
£600,000 grant schemes open for first rounds of funding
This month, I was pleased to open my first community grant schemes, which consist of a combined pot of £600,000 throughout my term of office, aimed at keeping young people safe and away from crime.
My first grant round aims to divert young at-risk people aged between 13 and 16 away from crime, by involving them in preventative activities. I have reviewed services available since my election and I feel that there is more work needed in this area.

The second pot of money is aimed at stopping young people, and others, from dying or getting seriously injured on the roads by making them safer drivers. Between 2010 and 2015, around 30-35% of all road collisions in the West Mercia area involved a 16-24 year old. I hope to see this figure lower if more young people are aware of the dangers involved in driving. Organisations bidding for funding will be expected to demonstrate that their proposals will achieve the aims of both schemes, provide on-going support and deliver best value for public money.

By investing a comparatively small amount of money now and working with the community to provide the right positive engagement projects, we can prevent minor issues becoming bigger issues down the line. For both schemes, we have the opportunity to change the path for the young people in our communities – be it ensuring they have the right information to be able to make informed decisions when using the roads, or preventing them from getting into a cycle of offending.

I am looking forward to seeing applications for proven, successful, innovative projects coming forward in the grant window. These grants will not be handouts though. I want to reassure our communities that there are structures in place to ensure this money will be allocated and used responsibly and I expect to see clear results for any investment.

The deadline for applications for diversionary activities is this week (Friday 3 March at 5pm) and the deadline for young driver safety is Friday 16 March at 5pm.

You can find full details about the schemes on my website.
Herefordshire Police Awards Evening
Chief Constable Anthony Bangham (left) and I are joined by officers and staff from Herefordshire

Earlier this month, at the Herefordshire Commendation Awards, I was proud to commend police officers, staff and members of the public of Herefordshire who have gone above and beyond to help others.

I am always honoured to see and hear how West Mercia Police officers and staff, as well as members of the public carry out extraordinary acts. I’d like to thank these individuals, and all of those who help to build a safer West Mercia, for all they do for our communities.  These inspirational people have acted selflessly and put themselves in danger in order to keep others safe.

For information about those who received awards visit the West Mercia Police website.

John's Diary

Monday 13 March - Ludlow Town Council meeting
 Thursday 16 March - Talk to Women's Institute, Bridgnorth
Tuesday 21 March - Visit to Acorn's Hospice, Worcester
Tuesday 21 March - Llangarron Parish Council meeting
Wednesday 22 March - Wythall PACT meeting
Monday 27 March - Guest speaker at Stourport Rotary Club lunch
Monday 27 March - Ross on Wye Parish Council meeting
Thursday 30 March - Talk to Bewdley Rotary Club

To view a comprehensive version of the PCC's diary, including events in your area, click here.

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