As we approach the end of 2016, I feel like this has been the year where I’ve taken the role of Police and Crime Commissioner up a gear.
By thinking bigger, better, differently, this office has achieved real results for the people of the West Midlands.
Of course, there has been business as usual – weekly meetings with the Chief Constable, for instance, and monthly board sessions – but there has been a lot of innovation and taking a different path to other PCCs around the country.
Take my M6 hearing as an example. After a tragic crash in the early hours, the motorway was shut for an unacceptable 24 hours. Patients couldn’t get to hospital, people missed family member’s funerals and the regional economy ground to a halt as deliveries and meetings were missed.
But I took the bold move of stepping in and doing something about it. I arranged a hearing in public for all those involved – Highways England, the police, councils etc – and thrashed out exactly what had gone wrong to keep the motorway closed for so long and how we ensure it improves in future.
This had never been done before and, I’m pleased to say, it was successful. Since then, Highways England has made progress and the links between it and partners are now stronger. Collaboration has been a key element of success.
In fact, the model proved so effective, I am replicating it for another issue that is important to people: illegal traveller camps.
Illegal encampments affect so many people. From the residents and businesses who lose their land for days at a time, to police, council officials and the travellers themselves, there is no one who is untouched by the stress and complexity of this issue.
I will therefore be holding a summit in February to try and tackle the problems and come up with solutions. I’ve invited residents, traveller groups, local councils and the police to the table, as well as shire councils so we can come up with a regional approach and not just move the illegal camps from one place to the next.
The hearing will take place on February 10 and will also be webcast live. I will also look at the extra powers that could be granted to local agencies by government.
Please get in touch if you have any information about this issue by taking part in my public consultation, which is launching shortly, and hopefully – together – we can come up with a solution.
The PCC blogs in his regular office newsletter. You can read the latest edition here
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