THE future face of policing in West Dorset came under the spotlight when Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill visited Bridport.
It was Mr Underhill’s first public visit to the town since he was elected to the role as he held a community forum at Bridport Town Hall on Friday, January 17.
Mr Underhill told the forum of the trial of the “body cams” ongoing in Bournemouth and his hope they would be rolled out across the county.
Mr Underhill said: “The wearing of body cameras on the officers makes the police more accountable, and the figures from America show complaints have fallen by around 40 per cent since they were introduced.
“The cameras can also be used in evidence. They are good for domestic abuse cases because when the officers arrive at the scene they can capture the atmosphere of the house and the crying children, which shows how bad it is.”
He then went on to detail what other county-wide issues he is focusing on, including the treatment of suspects who may have mental health issues, human trafficking, reducing re-offending, the licensing of wet tents and safe buses for vulnerable people, plus the work he does nationally.
Other topics discussed in the forum included illegal fox hunts, the Community Justice Programme, front desk enquiry closures, Neighbourhood Watches, a review of how Dorset Police uses speed cameras, a fall of eight percent in crime figures across the county and restorative justice.
Mr Underhill also told the forum how he wanted the Crown Prosecution Service to embrace technology, and become travelling magistrates.
Mr Underhill said: “I receive a lot of letters about the fact that the magistrates are shrinking and what should be local justice isn’t, and I agree. The magistrates have shrunk so much we now have only got two magistrates courts in Dorset, and it can’t make sense.
“We have lost the localism agenda. Why don’t we have travelling magistrates that travel to the people, and why cant the technology be made available to make the courts go to the people.”
Mr Underhill was also asked about the controversial “Badger Cull” that could be soon introduced into Dorset and he was asked how he planned to police it, due to the disorder that has blighted previous protests.
Mr Underhill replied: “It looks like the badger cull will be coming to Dorset. There are always two sides to every story and it is certainly very divisive. We will be looking to stay in the middle of that dispute and not take sides.
The debate on whether it’s right or wrong is irrelevant because it’s a government law and nothing to do with me. We comply with the law and we don’t have a view on it but hopefully we won’t have any disorder in Dorset.”
He also confirmed the costs of policing any protests or the culling would be covered by central government.