Laughter, conversation and enthusiastic meeting and greeting kicked off an exceptional evening in the King’s Head in Hursley. Club Night is, as its name suggests, the opportunity for the members of Winchester Conservative Association to catch up with friends, meet new members and generally have a good time.
On this occasion, the team at the Kings Head provided a good meal with drinks and an excellent service which laid the foundations for the room full of people, well prepared for an entertaining talk. Donna Jones, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, who had kindly agreed to speak, did not disappoint.
She started at the beginning, stating her vision is for “Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to be two of the safest places to live, work and visit in the country.”
She stressed that, rather than talking, she had started her period in office (in May 2021) by listening. She consulted with over 8,000 people across the two counties to enable her to write her legal police and crime – “More Police, Safer Streets” - and was pleased to discover that many of the responses mentioned her personal passion: neighbourhood policing.
The new Chief Constable, appointed in February this year and living in Winchester, endorsed and welcomed the clarity of Donna’s policing priories set out in her police and crime plan: more police, more police visibility, more action on anti-social behaviour and easier crime reporting.
Donna set out for us the ways in which she can be held to account on each. You can read the detail at www.morepolicesaferstreets.com.
Some of the Party were surprised by the extent to which the Police and Crime Commissioner is involved with the local police force on a daily basis. For example, every expenditure over £100,000 has to be checked and signed off (or not) by the PCC. The total police budget is over £432m per year which is the Commissioner's legal responsibility.
Of the 43 police forces in the country, Hampshire and IOW is the 4th largest outside the Metropolitan Police Force. The local force is “buddied” with Thames Valley Police which spans, Milton Keynes to Newbury, enabling cover to be shared and extending the reach of the individual forces.
Looking forward, governance of the probation service may be moved to oversight by the PCC, working ever more closely with the Courts.
Hampshire and IOW recruited its 600th new additional police officer in March this year, one of Donna’s promises when she was elected 2 yrs ago. Now she has achieved that, she has announced another 50 new police officers to be recruited over the next year. This will enable every neighbourhood to have its own named “Local Bobby” another one of Donna’s recent announcements.
Cybercrime is the most extensive crime in the County (the largest reported crime is domestic crime). This is of particular concern to older members of the community, with whom the Blue Lamp Trust works closely. Donna encouraged the guests to let her know of anyone who would appreciate this service and she would organise for The Blue Lamp Trust to make a visit free of charge. Finally, she mentioned that there would be a National Crime Agency and South East Cyber Resilience Centre event this Autumn. The date has been set for Monday 16th October. Details are on Donna’s social media.
After an animated and informative question and answer session, the evening closed with more socialising and agreement that our police service is in safe hands.