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PCCs appoint deputies for young offender work

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioners are taking on specialist work to tackle community issues in the Midlands. A former Special Constable will be among them.
Published - 26/08/2021 By - Chris Smith

Two more forces are getting additional political appointees to work with community partners.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has appointed a former charity lawyer and Special Constable to reduce reoffending by young people.

And West Mercia is merging ambassador roles to appoint a new deputy to work with neighboured partners.

The new West Midlands deputy, Tom McNeil, is a former charity lawyer and Special Constable in the Metropolitan Police who worked as the Strategic Adviser to the previous PCC, David Jamieson.

He is now turning his attention to improving support for children in their early years and schools to create greater wellbeing, opportunities and steer young people away from crime.

This includes addressing the factors that often lead people to commit crime, whether that be substance misuse, poverty, mental ill health and issues like domestic abuse and homelessness.

Mr McNeil grew up in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, attending local schools in the region before attending Durham and Cambridge universities.

And West Mercia’s PCC, John Campion, has replaced the team of five part-time community ambassadors to enable the recruitment of an Assistant PCC build links with community groups delivering services.

The appointments buck a trend among the newly-elected politicians after early announcements that deputy roles were being abolished on grounds of cost.

Surrey has also already appointed a deputy - the youngest in the country - to focus on violence against women and girls, domestic abuse, rural crime and pet theft.

They are appointees accountable to their PCC and their term of office ends with each election cycle. There are no pay-offs if their term isn’t renewed.

But with increasing demands on the main role, including officer conduct, many are choosing to delegate work with local partners.

John Campion said: “The community must always be at the heart of policing and engagement with communities is key to ensuring local issues and priorities are understood and acted upon.

“This role will be focused on seeking out, building and maintaining those key relationships with local communities and partners that will ultimately help me ensure the police are providing the best possible service to the public, and deliver a safer West Mercia for our communities.”

Mr McNeil has a significant portfolio reflecting the fact that the West Midlands is the second-biggest in the country.

His areas of responsibility include: Criminal Justice System Reform, Diversity and Inclusion, Mental Health, Stop and Search and Use of Force, Commonwealth Games and Coventry City of Culture from a policing perspective as well as Pension Forfeitures and the West Midlands Data Ethics Committee.

His experience as a Special will be being put to use: “My time working in frontline policing opened my eyes to the challenges our police officers face.

“The huge numbers of calls around domestic abuse, antisocial behaviour and violent crime that officers deal with day in, day out is real testament to their commitment to protecting people.

Reducing youth offending will be his top priority: “In my role I’ll be helping ensure justice is done and that all people are held accountable for crimes.

“But we also need to focus on what works to stop reoffending, such as employment, mental health support, addiction treatment and working with locals councils to ensure we have good housing,” he said.

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