Welcome to the Annual Report for 2021/22, my first full year in office as your Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey.
It has been a real privilege to serve the people of this fantastic county and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it so far. This report is a good opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved since I was elected in May last year and to tell you a little about my ambitions for the future.
One of the biggest challenges has been getting to understand the complexities of the role and the sheer breadth of what being a Police and Crime Commissioner involves. It carries an incredible amount of responsibility – from holding the Chief Constable to account for the performance of Surrey Police on behalf of residents, through to setting a budget of over £250m a year.
One of my first key decisions was to appoint my Deputy Commissioner Ellie Vesey-Thompson and I wanted to make sure that from the outset that we provided a strong partnership that was visible and accessible to the public we represent.
We’ve both been busy getting out and about, meeting residents and listening to their concerns, and visiting those services and projects my office commissions that support victims of crime and local communities.
We have also been joining police officers and staff on the frontline to see how they are leading the fight against crime across multiple areas of policing, from our local neighbourhood teams through to those policing our roads or searching for missing people and those dedicated proactive officers tracking drug dealers in our communities.
I have seen first-hand the amazing job they are doing and it is really important to stress how incredibly hard they are working on a daily basis to keep our communities safe. I have nothing but admiration for the job they do in often very difficult circumstances, and they deserve the thanks of all of us.
I know from speaking to the Surrey public that we all want to see more of them on the streets of our county tackling those issues that matter most to our communities. Surrey Police are working hard to recruit an extra 150 officers and operational staff this year with a further 98 to come in the year ahead as part of the Government’s uplift programme which will give our policing teams a real boost.
In February, I set my first budget for the Force and the small increase in council tax contributions from residents will mean Surrey Police are able to sustain their current policing levels and give the right support to those extra officers we are bringing in.
In December, I launched my Police and Crime Plan which was firmly based on the priorities that residents told me they felt were the most important such as the safety of our local roads, tackling anti-social behaviour and ensuring the safety of women and girls in our communities which I have strongly championed during my first year in this post.
We carried out the widest consultation with the public and our partners that this office has ever undertaken to make sure your priorities are my priorities, and I will be holding the Chief Constable to account on delivering against them over the next two years.
There is always more to do of course and there is undoubtedly room for improvement in many areas of performance – in particular how many crimes are being solved and in maintaining the confidence our communities have in their local police.
We are lucky enough to live in one of the safest counties in the country, but I share the same ambition as the Chief Constable in ensuring that not only do we keep our residents safe in Surrey but that they also feel safe.
I often say people focus on the ‘Police and Crime’ aspect of the role but not so much on the Commissioner side which is such an incredibly important part of what a PCC does.
Over the last year my office has awarded over £4million to projects and services which help survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence as well as supporting local projects in our communities which help tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour and rural crime.
I have a great team working in our office and over the last year they have helped secure over £2m in extra government funding which we have applied for which has helped strengthen our support to these services.
It includes money we have secured from the Home Office’s Safer Streets Fund to improve safety for women and girls using the Basingstoke Canal in Woking and combat burglaries in the Tandridge area, and we are currently in the process of applying for more funding in the next round of Safer Streets.
We have also launched some major new services to tackle stalking and child criminal exploitation, and a service aimed at the perpetrators of domestic abuse. I have visited many of these projects over the last year and have seen what a vital difference they can make to people’s lives.
There have been some big decisions to take during my first year, not least on the future of the Surrey Police Headquarters which I have agreed with the Force will remain at the Mount Browne site in Guildford rather than the previously planned move to Leatherhead. I believe it’s the right move for our officers and staff and will provide the best value for money for the Surrey public.
I would like to thank everyone who has been in contact over the last year and I am keen to hear from as many people as possible about their views on policing in Surrey so do please keep getting in touch.
My thanks go to all those who work for Surrey Police for their efforts and achievements over the last year in keeping our communities as safe as possible. I would also like to thank all the volunteers, charities, and organisations we have worked with and my staff in the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for their help over the last year.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey
A new project dedicated to the welfare of police dogs in Surrey has been launched thanks to the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office in partnership with the Dogs Trust and RSPCA.
Commissioner Lisa Townsend affirmed her commitment to tackling violence against women and girls on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Surrey's Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner has congratulated some of the county’s most inspirational young people following an awards ceremony last week.