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Ron Ball – Police and Crime Commissioner supports drug and alcohol services

Ron Ball has written an article for the National Treatment Agency supporting the Warwickshire Treatment Services for Drugs and Alcohol.

Police and crime commissioners: giving local people a voice on cutting crime – Ron Ball, PCC

Last November I was elected to the post of Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire. Prior to my election I had a 40 year career as a commercial airline pilot and some experience as a magistrate.  I decided to stand as an Independent candidate because I believed there was an intention to slant commissioner elections heavily in favour of party political candidates.

Ron Ball 2Now I am elected I am answerable to over half a million Warwickshire citizens and I intend to maintain the County as a relatively safe place to live with low levels of crime.

Like all PCCs, I am not actually responsible for the day-to-day operational running of the Police Force this is still the job of the Chief Constable – whom I can hold to account. My role is, of course, much wider than policing. I will be working with all the statutory and voluntary agencies in the criminal justice system and more generally with others who are working to reduce crime and tackle disorder and anti-social behaviour.

So, you may ask, what do I know about Drug and alcohol misuse?

Before the election I attended a special meeting for candidates organised by the National Treatment Agency in Birmingham. This really helped me to understand how tackling drugs and alcohol could help me to reduce crime and disorder. My meeting with the Warwickshire Community Safety and Substance Misuse team also focused on the misuse of drugs and alcohol as main drivers of crime and disorder and how by investing in treatment we can save substantial costs to other parts of society. I am particularly interested in the effects of drugs and alcohol on family life and domestic violence.

I was provided with a comprehensive briefing on all of the activities undertaken by agencies in the county including the recent redesign of commissioned treatment services in Coventry and Warwickshire to create a more streamlined, efficient and integrated service and the work being carried out to support victims of domestic abuse.

One of my priorities is to ensure early intervention is as effective as possible. I recognise the importance of tackling drugs and alcohol and I have reflected this in my Draft Police and Crime Plan 2013-17.

Whilst it is clear that a great deal of valuable work is done in these areas helping to reduce crime I will have to balance the obvious benefits of tackling these drivers of crime with other competing priorities. Changes in the Home Office Grant procedures mean that PCCs will receive funds that previously went to Community Safety Partners and other agencies.

I will be keeping all this in mind when I make decisions about the allocation of my budget. In the first year my intention is to fund Community Safety initiatives to at least the same level as 2012/13. However, I have also made it clear that any funding allocations will need to be backed up by solid evidence-based action plans. Where I can, I will allocate extra resources to those who are able to demonstrate effectiveness and give me a better return on my investment. Obviously, drug and alcohol interventions, backed by an extensive evidence base, could benefit from this.

Although I am the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire, Warwickshire Police Authority had previously agreed that policing services across Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Warwickshire and Worcestershire could be delivered more efficiently and effectively in the future by the formation of a  strategic alliance with West Mercia. The Strategic Alliance is designed to enable both forces to meet the challenge of reducing policing budgets and provide greater operational and organisational resilience however we should not forget that to do this we will need the support of the wider partnership agencies.

Given shrinking budgets, Warwickshire’s agencies have done a good job in recent years in reducing crime. I now have the challenge to continue that good work and to improve on it. Although I will have to careful with my limited resources tackling drug and alcohol misuse will remain high on my list of priorities.

Ron Ball

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