Police Station
Photo by Bruno Martins on Unsplash

An effective police and justice system is essential to communities where people feel safe, secure and happy. Communities which reduce anti-social behaviour and crime provide surroundings where young people can thrive, families can raise children and the elderly can live securely.

Since their introduction in 2012, Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have sought to deliver these priorities for their regions. As the Labour & Co-operative PCC for Durham, I have worked to achieve safer communities by putting co-operation at the heart of policing and justice. Co-operation is one of the central elements of the Peelian principle of policing by consent, with the support and involvement of communities and citizens. But recent incidents within the Metropolitan Police have eroded the trust and co-operation which is so vital for effective policing and justice services.

That’s why I am delighted to welcome the Co-operative Party’s new report, Rebuilding Policing & Criminal Justice, which seeks to develop co-operative approaches to policing which rebuild trust in our communities and create safer places to live and work.

As the 2024 Police & Crime Commissioner elections approach, the report focuses on the efforts of the seven Labour & Co-operative PCCs across the country. Collectively, we have been working to develop co-operative approaches to key issues which blight our communities – whether that be effective neighbourhood policing, retail crime prevention or action against modern slavery.

In Durham, my team have been working hard over the last term to make a difference in all these areas. With retail crime rising in prevalence in recent years, we have engaged with retailers across the region to listen to their concerns, promote the use of new crime reporting technology and build relationships through our Victim’s Champion. The report provides a blueprint for how we can continue to expand this work with retailers, so prolific offenders can be targeted and prosecuted effectively.

The visibility of policing is crucial to the public perception of safety and security. Despite years of cuts in police officer numbers from central government, in Durham we have been committed to ensuring successful neighbourhood policing. As part of our Police & Crime Plan, we have increased our officer numbers by 242, helping to deliver a 23.5% reduction in neighbourhood crime over the last six months. The report illustrates how vital this approach is to the future success of policing, which builds public trust in policing and justice institutions.

Modern slavery is one of the great injustices in society and I am proud of the Co-operative Party’s efforts to spread the Modern Slavery Charter across the UK’s local authorities. As a PCC, we have been working hard to support this work by funding the Durham Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Network, which seeks to confront and end these terrible practices throughout the region. We will continue to support and enhance our work in this area as we head towards the next PCC election.

It’s clear co-operative solutions can deliver for communities across the country. The new report will help to deliver further actions in key areas of crime across the country and I look forward to working with the Co-operative Party to deliver change that matters for residents, communities and businesses.