Opportunities to help shape a safer county

Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez

One of the opportunities for public to have a voice is through a new advisory youth group that's being set up - Credit: LDRS

Last week the nation was shocked and appalled as details of Sarah Everard’s murder at the hands of a police officer – someone she should have been able to trust implicitly – were read to the court.

An awful case much closer to home, the murder of Lorraine Cox, bears similarities. In both cases men subjected their female victims to appalling acts of violence. Both cases made us question how safe we are in public places, they impact on our sense of safety and wellbeing, they affect how we act and impinge upon our freedoms.

Everyone has the right to feel safe in public, wherever they are and whatever time of day they choose to go out. It is the job of the police and our partners to take the necessary steps and make the right investments to crack down on crime and reassure our communities.

The Home Office’s new StreetSafe tool is collecting data to anonymously flag places where people feel unsafe to the force and partners. This pilot system, which asks people to point out on an interactive map, has the potential to provide a wealth of information to law enforcement and local government so things like CCTV, street lighting and visible policing can be put in the right places.

It feels like I am always asking people to respond to one kind of survey or another but taking a few minutes to tell us where and why you feel unsafe at www.police.uk/streetsafe is time well spent.

I am unapologetic about promoting opportunities like StreetSafe. It is a great example of an opportunity to engage police, partners and the public in finding solutions to a pernicious and long-lasting problem.

The job of a Police and Crime Commissioner is to represent the public voice in policing and one of the key principles of my Police and Crime Plan is connectivity – I think that forging greater links between local authorities, the police and the public is the way to build safer, happier communities.

Another challenge for the police, and most organisations, is to hear the voice of young people. We have some superb volunteer police cadets and great links with youth organisations but in general we are contacted far more from older people than we are from those aged between 16 and 25.

This is a problem because we know young people feel at risk from a range of crimes that others feel less threatened by. The challenges faced by younger people, such as harassment and bullying online, simply did not exist when I was a child.

My office is working with Devon and Cornwall Police on its work to establish an advisory youth group. Ideally this group will consist of individuals with lots of different life experiences, opinions and ideas so they can be consulted on policing, crime and criminal justice matters. The force wants to hear from as many young people as possible, even those who don’t want to be part of the group, and is asking them to fill out a short survey at https://services.devon-cornwall.police.uk/surveys/youth-advisory/. Please share this link with young people you know to help them have a voice in policing Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Finally, I am delighted to see that the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners is leading a national consultation on firearms licensing. The Home Office is reviewing licensing arrangements following the tragic events of August 12 in Plymouth, when a lone gunman took five innocent lives.

I welcome close scrutiny of this legislation and am pleased that Police and Crime Commissioners around the country have enabled their communities to have their voices heard on this. To have your say please visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/5J7PV2K.

Your views on these matters will help create a safer Devon and Cornwall.