This month's newsletter arrives at a time where the whole country - and indeed the whole world - is gripped by a national public health emergency, which is having a major effect on how we all go about our normal lives.
The coronavirus pandemic is surely the widest scale emergency this country has faced in peacetime and that's why absolutely everyone has their part of play in helping to combat it and ensure that our vital services can cope at a time of unprecedented demand.
This week the Government has introduced new guidance urging people to stay home in order to help protect the NHS and save lives. When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the Government has introduced three new measures:
- Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes.
- Closing non-essential shops and community spaces.
- Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public.
Full guidance on the new measures - which came into force on Monday 23 March and will be in place for at least three weeks - can be found here
PCC elections postponed
One of the consequences of the current crisis has been the postponement of the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections, which were due to take place in May. Clearly, it would not have been possible or fair to the democratic process to conduct the elections during the current crisis, so I fully support this decision.
Police and Crime Commissioner elections will now take place a year later in May 2021, meaning that my current term of office has been extended by 12 months. While unexpected, the Warwickshire Police and Crime Plan which sets out the priorities for policing locally is already is scheduled to run until 2021, so this delay will have no effect on the delivery of policing locally.
Over the next 12 months I will continue to work hard to represent all communities across Warwickshire to ensure that your voice is heard on matters of policing and criminal justice. I will continue to hold the force to account, while also providing strong support to the Chief Constable and partners as we continue to work through the current crisis.
Responding to the coronavirus crisis
Warwickshire has always proved itself to be resilient and I am convinced that while there are undoubtedly further difficult times ahead, we will continue to see the strong partnership working that the county is famed for, bringing communities together to help each other throughout these challenging circumstances.
I have been keeping in regular touch with the Chief Constable and senior officers at Warwickshire Police and I can reassure the public that the force are working well with all of the other agencies to co-ordinate their response to the coronavirus pandemic, again with that core focus on keeping all parts of the community safe, especially those who are most vulnerable.
I have every confidence that, if everyone plays their part and follows the Government advice, Warwickshire can rise to the challenges that lie ahead, whatever they ultimately may be.
While my offices at Northgate Street are currently closed, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner continues to work on your behalf, with contingency plans in place to ensure we can continue to function effectively while working remotely, to ensure we can maintain appropriate social distancing. My office is also continuing to keep in close contact with the many organisations we fund through grants and our commissioned services for victims, who have all adapted well to the current restrictions, with staff in many cases working from home to continue to offer vital support online and over the telephone to those who need it.
Now, more than ever, their work is vital to helping ensure we support the vulnerable and maintain a safe and secure place for all. You can find links to some of these key services below.
I know this will be a very worrying time for everyone, so I hope the information in the newsletter will help you and your families get the best advice and support. Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to come together to fight this terrible virus and by following the Government's guidance in full, we can save many thousands of lives and ensure that we can get back to normality much sooner.