Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, has today held the first of four ‘ask the experts’ events. The events aim to improve understanding of how residents’ top priorities for Dorset Police will be achieved over the course of this term of office.
During six-weeks of public consultation, 2,036 local people shared their views on policing priorities. 90% of respondents said that ‘protecting people at risk of harm’ should be a key focus for Dorset Police. Those considered to be at risk of harm include people who have a need for care and support, are experiencing or are at risk of abuse or neglect, and are unable to protect themselves from these risks.
During the event held at the Dorset Rape Crisis Support Centre in Poole, expert panellists gave inputs to partner organisations around some of the areas that policing must focus on in order to protect the most vulnerable in our communities. This included the work of street triage services, developing an approach to mental health issues, the role of Independent Custody Visitors and ongoing work to provide support to men, women and children who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
PCC Martyn Underhill said: “Protecting the most vulnerable in our communities will always be a core policing duty and our event today has demonstrated just some of the ways in which this will be addressed. In the past, policing has failed to grasp the implications of vulnerability and how transient it is. You could be vulnerable for the whole of your life or you could be vulnerable for a month and just require temporary support. You could be vulnerable aged 2 or 102. Policing needs to be responsive to ensure that with other agencies, we effectively deal with that.”
Overseeing the commissioning of services in line with local priorities is a key responsibility of PCCs. Among other services, the OPCC co-commissions the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (The Shores) and part-commissions Dorset Rape Crisis (DRCSC) to provide vital support to victims of sexual violence and abuse in Dorset. Since 2011, DRCSC has run a dedicated helpline and face-to-face counselling service, offering emotional and practical support to male and female survivors.
The Commissioner continued: “Under this pillar, I have made a number of specific manifesto commitments, around mental health, safeguarding and crime reporting to name a few. Work is already underway. Within 100 days of taking office, additional resources were allocated to the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) to enhance our ability to safeguard children who are at risk.
“We will soon be recruiting for Independent Custody Visitors who make unannounced visits to custody to scrutinise conditions and I am continuing to campaign for people in mental health crisis to receive appropriate care in appropriate settings. I am delighted that out of the 419 people detained under Section 136 in 2015/16 in Dorset, only 10 spent any time in custody. Throughout my current term of office, I will continue to work with partners to reduce that number even further.”
Visit www.dorsetpoliceplan.com for updates on progress being made under the pillar of ‘protecting people at risk of harm’.