FEBRUARY 2022: News from A&SPCC Mark Shelford

January 24 2022

I AM delighted to announce that I have recently published my new Police and Crime Plan, which will set the strategic direction for how policing and crime services should be delivered in Avon and Somerset.
As I mentioned during the consultation process last autumn, I have a legal duty to produce a plan that sets out my police and crime priorities for the force area, as well as how I will hold the Chief Constable to account.
After consulting with local people, working with my team and Avon and Somerset Police, my four police and crime priorities are:
• preventing and fighting crime;
• engaging, supporting and working with communities, victims and partner organisations;
• leading the police to be efficient and effective;
• increasing the legitimacy of, and public confidence in, the police and criminal justice system.
I am determined that local people will have the most efficient, effective and legitimate police service that meets the needs of communities while delivering the best value for money. I will be working with my office to monitor and scrutinise the performance of Avon and Somerset Police, in a transparent way, to help ensure delivery of the plan.
I want the force to reassure our communities by putting an emphasis on preventing crime. My plan will support this through focusing on strengthening partnership working, greater visibility, better engagement within communities, early intervention, reducing reoffending and, most importantly, improving the outcomes and support for victims and witnesses of crime.
Preventing and fighting crime cannot be done by the police alone: only by working together with partners and local people will we find solutions. I promise that, as your PCC, I will do everything in my power to engage with you and bring these partners together to work hard and deliver safe communities for all.
Finally, I want to urge family members of online daters to help protect their relatives from becoming a victim of romance fraud, as new figures show almost £92 million has been lost nationally through dating scams over the past year.
Across Avon and Somerset, losses of £2.4m were reported in the 12-month period up to and including October 2021.
Romance fraud is an awful, heart-breaking crime; victims invest time into someone and think they have a genuine connection when, in fact, it has been a cruel lie to commit fraud.
Criminals often use a range of stories to get victims to transfer money without raising suspicion. The stories are often believable, to a certain extent, and something the victim would find hard to say no to, especially because of the emotional attachment.
I know many victims feel ashamed when they realise they have been scammed by romance fraudsters, but please know support is available from the police and Action Fraud. If you think a family member or friend is a victim of this terrible crime, please make them aware of the signs and help them access help.