PFCC Partnerships in Action Conference a great success!
A rousing celebration of partnerships in action brought together emergency services and community groups all working for a common goal.
The annual Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s conference – the first officially welcoming Essex County Fire & Rescue Service – featured opportunities for delegates to learn more about partnership projects turning lives around in the county, as well as inspiring them to think differently about how new partnerships could benefit all.
It was also a platform to announce an extra 150 police officers will be recruited in Essex, taking the total number of officers to more than 3,000.
Under the hashtag #UnstoppableEssex, delegates turned to social media to share the news and views from the oversubscribed event at Boreham House in Chelmsford.
Event MC Jane Gardner, Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, welcomed delegates and said: “The theme of today is partnerships in action. We really wanted to do something that showcased all of the great work going on in the county to make our communities safer.
“It’s all about connectivity, networking and taking something away that’s different for you and finding partners who you want to work with in the future.”
The event gave an opportunity to look back over the last year’s successes, including –
- Handling of Section 136 cases. Previously, vulnerable people in mental health crisis were being taken into police custody; not the ideal environment for them when they needed specific help and medication. This was an expensive way to look after them. Working with Clinical Commissioning Groups, a solution was found. Since May, just one per cent of Section 136 cases have been in cells since, the rest have been in the right place. Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: “That’s an amazing success of partnership working in the county.”
- Safer Essex Roads Partnership. The number of fatalities has been reduced from 52 to 41 from the previous year. Seriously injured or killed has dropped from 980 to 890. Mr Hirst said: “This is good partnership working well. It’s not just the police, fire and councils, but also national bodies working together; it works in terms of improving driving. Bad driving is the biggest killer we have.”
- Gypsy and traveller community. Work is being done to ensure they are supported with health problems, but also know the rules. A new unit within the police is making sure standards are applied fairly and consistently across the county. Mr Hirst said: “We are seeing a lot of success with dealing with unlawful activity and illegal encampments. We are looking at 11 days down to 1.4 days, on average. That’s partnership working; police, local authorities, fire and health services working together.”
- Business partnerships. Mr Hirst said: “We are taking it beyond public sector partners now and have been talking with businesses in the last year. We are now working with businesses like Tesco in terms of recruiting on-call firefighters.” Five businesses have signed up to the Employer Supported Policing Scheme, where businesses allow employees to take time out of their job to be Special Constables. Fifty-seven Specials now come from those employers and six more businesses are looking to join.
- In the last 18 months, 300,000 children have been reached. Mr Hirst said: “That’s a phenomenal number of kids. The joint team of fire and police education officers delivering messages to schools is absolutely about key messaging and is so vital.”
Mr Hirst networked with his guests throughout the day and said: “We are Unstoppable Essex; we are going places.
“It really is a case of an issue shared is an issue halved. We have got some great partnerships which have been going for a very long time; coming up with new ideas and building new relationships.
“The community safety partnerships we have across the district are absolutely vital. It is important to get together in communities.
“There is lots more to do, particularly in the area of sexual abuse and violence. That is one big issue we need to look at in the year ahead. There are steps we need to take as partners to get to where we want to be.
“I do not have all the answers; it’s about working with other people to tackle issues together.”
Keynote speaker James Cleverly, MP for Braintree and deputy chairman of the Conservative party, shared insight from his experiences with not only the reserve armed forces, but as a member of the London Assembly.
He spoke about his passion for joint working saying he was particularly pleased it was Essex that had led the way on joint governance.
Jo Turton, who will take over as Chief Fire Officer / Chief Executive of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service on April 1, gave her first speech in the county, detailing how partnership working in her role as Chief Executive of Lancashire County Council gave her the skills and experience to take the Fire Service forward.
Jo said: “My main message is collaboration is hard work. It makes you think and behave differently and in ways you do not necessarily want to or have before. But, when it works and you are involved in making it work, you create genuine opportunities for transformation. These opportunities are worth every single hour of every single day you put into them.”
Delegates heard six “lightning talks” – two-minute pitches – about organisations and projects changing lives in the county, including Winter Night Shelters, Firefighters Delivering Differently and Stay Safe Awareness Events. Community organisations – such as Street Pastors, Essex Youth Service and Open Road – set up stall around the conference, raising awareness of their work.
Delegates also indulged in one of four topics with workshops on a multi-agency approach to gangs; making volunteering great again; improving community safety through collaboration; and how to work effectively with community organisations.
The event was brought to an end with a Q&A session and the presentation of Community Safety Hero Awards.