The money, found at an abandoned care complex in Strete Mount, Christchurch, will be invested into services that help keep Dorset residents safe.
An 18 month long investigation was conducted, but after officers were unable to identify an owner, the Court formally awarded the money to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), under the Police Property Act. Police Property Act funding is co-managed by the Force and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and reinvests money that is recovered by police into initiatives that benefit community safety.
As the money was discovered during a training exercise by Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue (DWFRS) officers, PCC Martyn Underhill chose to allocate half of the awarded amount to DWFRS for fire-related community projects.
£6,000 will support the implementation of a Firewise Community Co-ordinator, matching funding provided by the Urban Heath Partnership and DWFRS. The Firewise Community initiative is an international scheme that encourages communities to work together to reduce the risk of damage to homes from wildfire. The Co-ordinator will develop a programme to teach communities about the risks and how they can build resilience.
The PCC has also approved the proposal from DWFRS for the remaining £39,000 to support the Dorset charity, SafeWise. The charity provides realistic and immersive learning experiences to equip visitors of all ages with the skills, knowledge and confidence to live active, fulfilling and safer lives in stronger communities. As part of a strategic review to grow its impact, the charity identified the need for increased volunteer numbers in order to allow its programmes to reach out to more members of the community.
Rob Hattersley, CEO of SafeWise, said: “The money from the PCC is fantastic timing. Funding a volunteer co-ordinator will kick start our new strategy, making an exciting new range of programmes accessible for many more visitors. Without our dedicated and valued team of volunteers, SafeWise wouldn’t be able to have such a positive impact and reach so many members of the community.”
DWFRS Area Manager, Craig Baker, added: “I’m really pleased the PCC has recognised the great work of SafeWise and the Firewise Community Initiative and approved our funding proposals. Both projects offer education and support to actively involve residents in the safety of their communities.”
The remaining £45,000 will be invested into the PCC’s Safer Dorset Fund Community Grant Scheme. This provides financial support to voluntary and community sector organisations that deliver projects meeting one or more of the Police & Crime Plan priorities: protecting people at risk of harm, working with our communities, supporting victims, witnesses and reducing reoffending and transforming for the future. Grants of between £100 and £3,000 are available and applications are now welcomed.
PCC Martyn Underhill said: “Since I introduced it in 2015, the Community Grant has provided support to a large variety of projects in the county, all of which meet a community need and contribute to keeping the people of Dorset safe. I am pleased that this money will contribute to the fund, as it puts the decision making power into the hands of Dorset residents, who understand their communities best.”