This week, for the first time in over three months, I returned to Police HQ – socially distancing myself carefully – in order to take part in a virtual meeting of my scrutiny body, the Police and Crime Panel.
The technology had proved a challenge too far for my laptop, and while I could have taken part by telephone, as it was the work of my office that was being scrutinised I felt that members of the panel should be able to actually see me!
The meeting went surprisingly smoothly considering that the chair couldn’t see the members at all. Well done Joe Orson, that was quite a feat.
As my tenure has been extended until May 2021, I felt that we should have another look at my Police and Crime Plan to check that in the new, post-COVID, world it was fit for purpose.
My key priorities, including crime prevention, support for the vulnerable and increasing officer numbers remain, but there is a clear focus on tackling more serious crimes and early intervention to prevent crime in the future. I am grateful to the panel – they approved my plans!
I was also able to be present at the swearing-in (attestation) of the latest cohort of new officers having missed a couple of these ceremonies due to lockdown. Attestation is a big moment for our new recruits and I was pleased that, again observing the two-metre rule, I could this time welcome them in person.
Of course, recruitment is one of my key priorities. I have always committed to increasing police numbers and visibility – and I am more determined than ever to continue the drive for a diverse workforce that is representative of our community. My message is clear: we are still recruiting, despite the challenges of the moment!
Unsurprisingly, there has been a great deal of media coverage about diversity this week. We saw several protests held across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland which were conducted peacefully and with dignity. That says a lot for everyone involved and I thank them all.
However, there is more to be done and I was pleased to host a virtual meeting with representatives from anti-racist organisations such as Leicester Black Lives Matter and Leicester Against Racism, alongside the Chief Constable, my deputy Kirk Master and others. I felt it was vitally important to discuss, at the earliest opportunity, what we can do differently, what we can do together and how we can build trust and confidence.
Together we can overcome the evils of discrimination and racism. There’s a way to go, but Leicester starts from a good place. It won’t happen overnight, but if we all play a part, then I passionately believe that hope will triumph over hate.
19 June 2020
Posted on Friday 19th June 2020