15 Mar UPDATED POST: Dog thefts: Why I’ve got involved
Giving the public a voice on local policing issues was one, if not the most important reason that Police & Crime Commissioners were created in 2012, and it’s something I take exceedingly seriously.
How that voice is heard and how it’s communicated to the chief constable and his officers is an important question, perhaps best illustrated by an increase in pet thefts over this last year.
Man’s (and women’s) best friend
Many will be aware of the public outcry caused by the theft of dogs in the county.
It’s a truly awful crime which can only be carried out by the most uncaring and callous members of the criminal fraternity.
Gloucestershire Constabulary has its core responsibilities, but as Commissioner I also set the Force priorities which reflect what the public wants locally.
Unique to Gloucestershire is the priority ‘A Compassionate Approach’ to the welfare of animals.
Whether that be domestic, wild or farm animals, our priority specifically makes the distinction between the theft of innate items like lawnmowers, and sentient creatures such as dogs – something the law still fails to recognise.
You tell me, I listen
‘A Compassionate Approach’ is a priority because you told me it’s what you want and expect, in much the same way you expect our police to operate in an environmentally sustainable way.
So, if it’s a priority what difference does it make?
Before the recent spate of dog thefts, my office raised the alarm with the force because of trends seen elsewhere.
Within hours of being aware of the first theft I sought assurances that the force was fully investigating all aspects of these crimes, leaving no stone unturned.
So what next?
Building on my policing priority, we’re now launching a local conversation around what the police and others can do to truly tackle this crime.
I’m delighted that Countess Bathurst has led her support around this debate and started the conversation. Over the coming months, I want my office to engage with as many people and organisations as possible so collectively we can look to tackle the wicked crime of pet theft. My hope is later this year we can follow up these initial conversations with a conference at the forces training facility – The Sabrina Centre.
**** This post was originally written in August 2020, but has now been updated ****