PCC Conference – Celebrating and building strong partnerships
A CONVICTED murderer, speaking about the challenges he will face on release, and a former heroin addict criminal who has turned his life around to help others, were just two of the powerful speakers at this year’s annual PCC conference.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, held his annual working conference at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in Colchester on Wednesday January 14, which saw around 200 delegates taking part.
The offenders – including Dean O’Neill who turned his life around from using drugs and offending to become a peer mentor for the Essex Community Rehabilitation Company (formerly Essex Probation) for other offenders – spoke about their rehabilitation which was a key theme of the conference.
The conference, which was organised by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), featured stalls from more than 20 voluntary, community and victims’ organisations, including Open Road, Victim Support, the Street Pastors, Essex Police’s special constables and the Essex County Fire & Rescue Service to name a few.
Delegates were able to take part in workshops on: road safety, victims, voluntary sector capacity building, mental health, reducing reoffending, and community resolutions and out of court disposals.
Speaking after the conference, Mr Alston said: “This year’s event really was a success. There was a great turnout, powerful keynote speakers, and I’m sure the networking taking place will help build further partnerships.
“The needs of victims must be paramount in all that we do and it was humbling to learn more about the extensive work taking place across Essex to support victims of all ages.
“The workshops also gave public and voluntary organisations, police and criminal justice representatives, the chance to share fresh ideas and perspectives on how we can continue to keep our communities safe and meet the needs of victims.
“There was also considerable discussion of rehabilitation and reducing offending. We have to believe people are capable of change and hearing from the ex-offender and the life prisoner certainly demonstrated that. But their courage in sharing the details of their journey also enabled the many organisations present to learn more about what support is needed.
“However, most importantly, the outcomes from discussions around rehabilitation and reducing offending will ultimately prevent more people becoming victims of crime. The needs of victims must be a priority for all of us.”
A short film about an Essex Offender Project in Jaywick, which has received money from the PCC’s New Initiatives Fund, was also shown, and can be seen here.
The event concluded with a question and answer session with a panel including: Stephen Kavanagh, Chief Constable of Essex Police; Nicola Beach, Chair of Safer Essex; Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex; Caroline Robinson, Chief Officer of Colchester and Tendring Women’s Aid; and Jackie Sully, Chief Executive of Rainbow Services in Harlow.