This month I took the difficult decision to increase the council tax precept for 2020/21.
The precept is the amount of money residents pay every month towards policing.
It is not a decision I take lightly and my team carried out an extensive 13-week programme of engagement across Gwent to ensure that as many people as possible had a chance to give their views.
More than 66% of respondents indicated that they would be content with a rise of up to £2 a month.
I also took into consideration along the robust financial case put forward by Gwent Police, and a recommendation from the Gwent Police and Crime Panel to keep costs as low as possible for residents.
I am pleased that I have been able to keep the rise below £2 and from April 2020 the average household in Gwent will pay £1.45 extra per month for its policing service.
The extra funding will allow Gwent Police to maintain its previous investment in recruitment, and in priority areas such as neighbourhood policing, child protection, domestic abuse, rape, sexual assault, hate crime, and serious and organised crime.
I would like to thank everyone that took the time to share their views and to the Police and Crime Panel for their continued scrutiny and support.
In December a new Survivor Engagement Coordinator was appointed to Gwent Police, based on research and a recommendation from my office.
The post is based within the Connect Gwent victims’ hub in Blackwood and will establish a sustainable survivor engagement framework, through which survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence can share their lived experience. The post is the only one of its kind in Wales.
Supporting all victims of crime is a fundamental priority within my Police and Crime Plan. The new Survivor Engagement Coordinator will help us to ensure that we deliver that in an effective and inclusive way.
At the time of writing this column Storm Dennis has caused devastation to parts Caerphilly. It has been the worst storm that Gwent has seen for many years, and recovery for the residents and businesses who were badly affected could take months.
I would like to thank all of the emergency services, local authority employees, charity workers and residents who worked over and above in horrendous conditions to aid and protect the people of Gwent. Storm Dennis has wreaked havoc and left many families devastated, but I was pleased to see communities coming together to help those in need.
It is an important reminder that we are all stronger when we stand together.