It was nice to have an extra hour in bed on Sunday, but aren't the dark evenings miserable?
We started the week with a Police Authority Breakfast Seminar - actually, it was a Cup of Coffee and a Danish Pastry Seminar, as we are all on an economy drive these days. Our speaker today was a senior civil servant in the Home Office, Gareth Hills. Gareth is a director in the Home Office's Police and Crime Group and holds the position of Programme Director for the new National Crime Agency.
It is the government's decision to establish a National Crime Agency and that decision is of very great importance to us here in Kent. We are bordered by many and varied neighbours - not lease from Europe - bringing the activities of organised criminals relating to the most serious of crimes, such as terrorism, human trafficking and large scale drug importation. So clearly any new national structure better aimed at tackling serious and organised crime is to be welcomed.
At last Wednesday's Police Authority Committee we debated a number of crucial matters not least the important preparations for a Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) who will be elected by the people of Kent in November 2012. Whilst PCCs will mean the end of Police Authorities across England and Wales, I am determined that the Kent Police Authority will do all that it can to lay the best possible foundations for the Commissioner, so that whoever is elected can be effective from day one of taking office.
One challenge already facing us is meeting the costs of election for the PCC. Whilst we anticipate some central government funding to cover running the election, this is unlikely to meet the full costs of the process as the PCC election will be a 'stand-alone' affair - in other words, not combined with other public elections such as those for local authorities where of course costs can be combined, and accordingly lowered.
In a time of severe financial constraints (the Kent force and indeed my authority are absorbing 20% cuts to our funding) funding the PCC election is something of a headache, but as always we will dig deep and respond positively.
November is a key month for both the force and Kent Police Authority as the Chief Constable is about to implement changes to the policing arrangements for Kent and Medway. These changes have been, in part, driven by the cuts agenda, but I am pleased to say the force, supported by my authority, have sought to use the inevitability of restructuring brought about by the financial climate, to actually seek to improve its policing services to communities. I am especially proud of our commitment with the force to strengthen neighbourhood policing. More details of these improvements will follow in the coming weeks and months so please check the force's website www.kent.police.uk regularly for more information.
Finally, I hope that you are continuing to enjoy the lovely autumn colours as much as I am. Our walk in the local nature reserve yesterday was quite spectacular, even if our dogs took themselves off for 15 minutes and kept us waiting to go home!