PCC reflects on first year

Swindon Advertiser: Angus Macpherson, front right, at the launch of the police and community safety partnership at Wharf Green Angus Macpherson, front right, at the launch of the police and community safety partnership at Wharf Green

IT HAS been just over a year since Angus Macpherson sat down behind a desk which had never been used before, in the office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon.

He talks to me across another kind of table, which he’s probably never sat behind before either, in an Old Town coffee shop, though he settles quickly and sets about explaining what he has learned over the past 13 months.

The concept of a PCC, to work alongside the county’s Chief Constable, is a new one. Mr Macpherson was the first PCC to be sworn into office after the elections, which took place across the country on November 15, 2012.

It is not a cheap role, nor is it an easy role. The PCC is being held to account every day by his peers, his police force and the residents paying his salary.

“It’s a challenge because no-one’s ever done the job before. There is no precedent for it, every day there is something new coming up, or a new contact, or a new group to meet,” he said.

“As this job progresses, I see very much it being the neighbourhood police, safer neighbourhood teams, the connection between local authority and the police, and the cleansing department, and the health department around making people’s lives better.

“Not doing anything to them, but putting the services there for them to access and, frankly, all the new crime will be dealt with on a much more regional basis by geeks.

“The local crime, the anti-social crime, the crime we count is undoubtedly going down, but there aren’t too many stagecoach robberies anymore. We have moved on.

“As you and I sit here, someone’s probably having a good crack at our bank accounts, phishing our e-mails – that’s where it’s at. Which is not the sort of crime that a force like Wiltshire’s is ever going to address.”

He’s not being politically incorrect there. He’s talking about the new wave of 21st-century cyber crime which is spreading beyond massive corporations; it is finding its way into the regions and counties of the UK.

It represents another problem which rural forces, like Wiltshire Police, are currently not prepared for, which is why the beauty of technology and the internet, allows for more centralised approach to cyber crime being committed in Swindon or Royal Wootton Bassett.

Mr Macpherson has felt it necessary to concentrate efforts on stamping out the petty crime which currently circulates our Magistrates’ Courts. He feels, if the presence of alcohol and drugs in people’s lives can be stopped, the crime should follow.

The PCC also laid out plans to improve the way offenders are treated when they are released from prison. He plans to give them a better option when they are released, a safer option within social housing, which keeps them off the street and away from their influential, drug-user friends.

“I am really pleased to be on the Health & Wellbeing Boards for Swindon and Wiltshire because if you can get into people’s wellbeing and health around drug use and all the rest of it, then maybe a lot of this crime will disappear.”

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