DESPITE it already being February, this is my first column of the year, so I’d like to wish you a happy 2018!

I feel the arrival of a new year not only presents the opportunity to reflect, but allows for a focused approach to the year ahead of us.

I would like to challenge you to gain a new experience and act on getting involved in your local policing service.

Volunteering is one of the most selfless examples of helping others and can be incredibly rewarding. The time to act is now, whether you become a PSCO, an independent custody visitor or to set up a community speed watch – act now and find out more. With so many opportunities available in policing and the chance to try something different, there really is something for everyone.

Over the past year, I have been lobbying hard for the best possible funding arrangements for policing.

In December, the Government agreed to provide flat cash to local forces but made it clear the increasing proportion of policing costs will have to be met by local council taxpayers, so allowed PCCs to raise the amount you pay through the police part of the council tax.

I have spent time talking and listening to residents across Avon and Somerset asking the question – would you be prepared to spend an extra £1 on policing?

While 82% of people did support paying £1 a month more to support policing, I heard from residents who told me that they couldn’t afford it or that Government should pay for policing in full.

On February 1, I presented the police budget to the Police and Crime Panel who approved my proposals for an increase.

I recognise any increase in household bills will be felt by residents.

I want to assure local communities that the policing you receive through neighbourhood policing teams will be unchanged thanks to the increase.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and in 1918, some women finally gained the right to vote. Progress for women has often felt painfully slow.

Personally I don’t feel I am treated any differently as a woman, particularly working in what has always traditionally been known as a male-dominated environment. This is not to say that any minority has an easy time.

We have been striving to change attitudes for the past 100 years and I am not prepared to wait another 100 years for further improvements.


Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner