Working together to make Cheshire safer: Guest Blog from John Dwyer, Cheshire PCC

John DwyerJohn Dwyer is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire. At the 2015 Compact Awards he won the Compact Leadership Award, in recognition of his partnership working with the local voluntary and community sector in Cheshire. He is pictured left receiving his award from Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society.

You can read more about the winners of the 2015 Compact Awards here.

My vision as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is to make Cheshire an even safer place to live and work. I am absolutely clear that working in partnership is critical to delivering this vision and volunteers and the voluntary and community sector (VCS) have a crucial role to play.

The Cheshire police family has the benefit of a fantastic group of volunteers working with us as part of the Special Constabulary and a number of other schemes such as Rural Watch and Horse Watch. I have been able to support the growth of our volunteers to well over 1000, all of whom contribute to making Cheshire safe.
I do not underestimate the huge value that VCS organisations also bring. Since I came into office in 2012 I have been working closely with our local VCS and I have invested in it, through both commissioning services and capacity building across Cheshire.
We have already done some great work together. We have been able to provide support services for survivors of sexual assault and rape, support which is now available to everyone no matter what their age. We have established a nationally accredited restorative justice and mediation hub providing high quality outcomes for victims. We have an online directory developed by the VCS, which details what support services are available for victims across Cheshire and will continue to be developed to make sure it is up to date and relevant for those using it. We have services tackling and supporting victims of hate crime, modern slavery, domestic abuse...the list goes on (there is a useful overview on my website here).
This is in addition to voluntary, charity and community projects operating across Cheshire as a result of investment from my dedicated Crime Prevention Fund. Together with the VCS we are delivering for Cheshire.

So what delivers success?

A key part of our achievement has been founded in the development of a Compact Agreement with the four Cheshire local support and development organisations on behalf of Cheshire’s VCS.
The Compact itself has been co-developed and clearly sets out how I value the role of VCS partners in providing solutions to crime and disorder, community safety, and providing vital support for victims of crime. The Compact enhances our relationship through, amongst other things, improving engagement and communication, enhancing VCS opportunities to influence and shape commissioning, and promoting greater understanding of how the VCS can meet the challenges the community is facing.
Crucially our Compact is based on equal rights and responsibilities, mutual respect and recognition, and is underpinned by a shared vision – making Cheshire even safer.
It is testament to the work that we have done together that in November I proudly received the Compact Leadership Award at the 2015 Compact Awards. I was obviously delighted and honoured to receive it but really the award was a reflection of the hard work of the VCS in Cheshire.

Looking to the future

Next May the public will have the opportunity to vote in the next round of PCC elections. I am hopeful that I will be re-elected but this is by no means certain.
I believe whoever is Commissioner after May will need to continue to work closely with our VCS partners and continue to promote the inclusion and demonstration of social value within local commissioning, something I have now embedded within my service specifications. This will help to maximise resources and knowledge making us more effective and efficient through the development and co-production of pioneering partnership led initiatives. 
Whilst I am in post I will continue my strong partnership with the VCS and develop new services, such as my support service for victims, Cheshire CARES, which will harness the expertise of both individual volunteers and specialist services provided by the VCS to deliver even better outcomes for the people that need these services most.
Together we will continue to deliver the best outcomes for our communities and ensure that Cheshire has both a police force and VCS to be reckoned with.
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