I've been away over the Easter break at my brother's wedding and two issues arose. The Home Office announced their requirements to give extra powers to the UK Government Communications Headquarters to have access to our emails, text messages, Skype calls etc. From a police perspective it's an additional weapon to help fight organised crime and terrorism but, and this is a very big but, I personally think that if it is made law there has be balance between the information accessed and our very important civil liberties.
Allegations of racism have raised their ugly head again in the Met Police, according to media reports I read over the weekend. The new commissioner has, quite right too, publicly stated that there is no place for such behaviour in his Force. However, personally speaking it's down to all of us to challenge and condemn any comment or behaviour that pandas to racism of any kind. I come from an extended mixed race family - not easy to spot looking at me with my blonde hair and blue eyes - but every member of my family has zero tolerance to any kind of racism. We never let remarks pass as by, as this will only make racism fester. It's important that people do speak up - the onus is on us all - to stamp out any form of discrimination whenever and wherever we come across it.
Our new Kent policing model has now been up and running for six months now, the most far-reaching and comprehensive reorganisation in the Force's history, and the Authority has asked for feedback from a variety of our stakeholders - parish councils, NHW, district councils, local safer community partnerships and all of our staff associations - to name but a few. We have had hundreds of replies and I thank everyone who responded for taking the time and effort to do so. We now have an excellent sample from which to gain comment and we are busy analysing the results as I write. More on this in the next few weeks.
The new version of our Policing Plan is now live on our website - www.kentpoliceauthority.gov.uk - under plans and policies. It contains all the details of our targets, plans and priorities for the forthcoming year. We shall, of course, continue to monitor the plan and how the Force is performing until we cease to exist. Looking at the end of year figures for 2011 - 2012 it's very encouraging. The all important all crime reduction is down by 3.6 per cent - that's the equivalent of 3,845 fewer crimes and victims of crimes - an excellent result in the current economic climate, especially as the Force is going through a massive in-house change programme. My congratulations and thanks go to everyone in the Force for staying so focused on the essentials. If you live in Kent do make sure you have a look - you'll be encouraged.
This week I'm also at the Police Negotiating Board on which I chair the official side. We shall be tidying up the loose ends from the Winsor Part 1 - a review of police pay and conditions - and recommendations that were upheld by the Police Arbitration Tribunal. We will also start to look at the new negotiations required for Winsor Part 2.
Lastly as I mentioned the other week, my lovely husband Tony Barnes, has been shortlisted for the National Veterinary Surgeon of the Year award. We shall know this Thursday (12 April) if he has been successful or not. I sincerely hope he has won because I don't do second place! No pressure, Tony, no pressure.