Over the last week or so, I have been across the county, talking to residents from Lyme Regis to Jumpers in Christchurch about their concerns, the police and crime plan priorities and the work that’s being done to tackle ASB and drugs activity in the county – including the work of Operation Scorpion.

I’ve also been to talk with BCP Council about investment for the future and issues such as aggressive begging and unauthorised encampments. I have attended two South West regional meetings – the first being the Collaboration Board, attended by PCCs and Chief Constables from across the region to assess the success of Operation Scorpion and talk through the next phase of the operation and how it dovetails with the work already being done in Dorset and the second meeting was with the South West Reducing Reoffending Board, where we discussed projects and how to bring down the rates of reoffending with a particular emphasis on drug offences.  

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the 2022 Prejudice Free Dorset Conference which centred on addressing #NoPlaceforHate and how we use and reflect ‘Community Voices’ in our pursuit of ending prejudice and discrimination.

I applaud the work of the Prejudice Free Dorset group in the training they have done for ‘third party’ reporting centres, for their work in setting up seminars and awareness events as well as their work with night-time economy workers to combat hate crime and increase the reporting of incidents to the Police.

At the conference, a panel of people told their story and gave voice to their lived experience of the prejudice and discrimination and I am grateful to each speaker who took part.
It was a privilege to have been able to gain such insight and I am keen that those voices, those experiences are remembered and carried forward into actions.

I left the conference with three important ‘take-aways’ – To better educate young people to respect themselves and others To do more to tackle disabled prejudice in Dorset To ensure that the Positive Action is working in Dorset and that ultimately, Dorset Police grows and better reflects the community as a whole. I look forward to updating you on how each of these have been woven into the work of my office over the coming weeks and months.

Finally, this week sees the launch of the Governments ‘Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan’ which includes the creation of a new register of offenders, an expansion of the ‘Ask for Ani’ Scheme, £140 million for supporting victims, and over £81 million to tackle perpetrators.

Domestic abuse is a devastating crime that ruins lives. I have stated publicly that I have a close family member who has experienced this awful crime and I really welcome the way that the government understands and is getting to grips with this issue. For far too long the focus has been on what the victim might have done differently, rather than on the behaviour of perpetrators.

The Plan outlines a more robust and relentless response to domestic abuse perpetrators, whether through electronic tagging, innovative behaviour change programmes, or tougher sentences and there is now a dedicated focus on how to deal with the most harmful abusers, including a register of domestic abuse offenders.

In Dorset, there are several support services for victims of domestic abuse, some of which are funded by my office – The Police Maple Team, Victim Support, BCHA and Paragon (formally The You Trust) all provide much needed support for those most in need during a difficult time in their lives. It is important to remember that these services can be accessed without involving the Police.

As well as supporting victims, we also recognise that prevention is key, therefore my office works with partners to commission programmes that disrupt perpetrator abuse and support them to change their behaviours. If these programmes can stop or reduce the risk of domestic abuse before it happens, then more families can live without fear.
 
David Sidwick
Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset