You’ll be glad to hear that week three was another busy but productive one, with all my time spent talking to individuals and interest groups across the West Midlands. I learnt more about their views, concerns and fears, and more about the changes they’d like to see in their local area. I’ve included some of the highlights below, but as ever, I’m interested in everyone’s views so if you’ve got something you’d like to say, please contact me via my site cathhannon4pcc.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the first people I spoke to is a professional in the arena of alcohol licensing, who talked me through the complexities of alcohol legislation, licensing, and alcohol abuse and violence. Having been in the police I have some understanding of the key issues in this area but it’s a huge area of concern for the West Midlands, a real drain on police resources and something which we must address. In my view there’s a responsibility on individuals who repeatedly cause problems through alcohol-related violence and aggression. But how do we get there? This is a big challenge but one of the areas I’m determined to tackle. Watch this space...
I also spoke to a gentleman who represents large and small retailers, as well as convenience stores, resulting in a refreshingly spirited debate about how the police, retailers and the public can work together to deter criminality in high streets and town centres. It’s clear that innovation and desire to work together could really energise shopping areas and bring a much need injection of support and money to business communities. I hope to collect a few more views along the way on this so if you own a business I’d be really interested in your thoughts here too. What are the issues that affect your local area? Let’s get your voice heard.
During the week I made a visit to another group, the Birmingham Adult Dyslexic Group (BADG), which meets regularly at the Nautical Club in Birmingham. They’d previously mentioned their concern about their lack of access to information about the election and were frustrated about being disenfranchised from such an important decision.
My discussion with them was fairly short as two police officers also attended the meeting and BADG attendees were keen to have a variety of policing issues and scenarios addressed. The frustration of the BADG members was obvious as they described their mainly negative contact with the police and how their disabilities impact on their behaviour, which they believe is often misinterpreted by police. The police who attended gave a very good overview of how such situations are usually approached by the police, which helped. But the fact is that police budgets have been cut and training in areas such as mental health has also been cut, and this in a time when the demand for policing overall is just as strong.
For me, this has got to be about identifying our priorities, and long-term solutions. As part of my campaign I’ll be adjusting my website to provide an alternative medium to just script so the information is more readily available to people who struggle with reading and writing. But what of the so-called 'gap' between policing resources and the needs of various community groups overall? In terms of the policing needs of BADG it was clear to me that technology could be used to make contact between the police and key community groups much easier. There was support within the room for an identification card to advise police officers of their disability and behavioural traits but what do you think? Would you like to see any other alternative methods to communication information to ‘hard to reach’ groups?
Among other meetings and conversations there was also a bit of unexpected musical excitement, drumming with Tim Landler at Birmingham Drum School. Tim is an excellent teacher and I’m pleased to announce that for the first time in my life I managed to beat in time. Actually my performance was more akin to a very slow Phil Collins number. Anyway! Prior to our conversation, Tim hadn’t even heard of the PCC position. Or the fact that it’s an elected position which will completely change the face of policing in the West Midlands and beyond. He didn’t know that there is an election taking place in November.
And guess what? He’s in the majority. This has got to change. And that’s where we come in.
Thank you for helping me spread the word – let’s keep at it!