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Dorset's £1m innovation fund spurs ideas from frontline officers

Reserves and efficiency savings are being pumped into a £1m fund for projects chosen by Dorset’s officers and staff. More than 100 ideas for projects have been submitted.

Creating the county’s first police cadet service and a new phone system for taking witness statements that can then be emailed are among the proposals that have been backed by the innovation fund set up by Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill and Chief Constable James Vaughan.

The fund was created using cash from reserves and efficiency savings to get frontline staff to push for projects that wouldn’t normally feature in plans for the force. Decisions on which got the green light are taken by an innovation board and so far just under half have been developed over the past year.

Other initiatives have included a police van that provides security measures to residents who have been victims of multiple burglaries.

The fund also set up an automated facility giving initial advice and links to support services to victims of domestic abuse. The pilot scheme, set up as a result of victims saying there was no one-stop shop for support, is being used alongside existing professional advice services.

And a trial joint response unit, crewed by a police officer and a paramedic, was set up between Dorset Police and the South Western Ambulance Service Trust. It has been deployed to more than 40 incidents in which both a police officer and a paramedic would normally have been dispatched.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “Many of these schemes have taken just months from being suggested by an officer or member of staff to being developed into working projects which are making a real difference.

“Police forces need to innovate in order to meet the challenges the future will throw at us, and this fund is already proving invaluable by taking the best ideas from the front line and turning them into new ways of fighting crime and keeping people safe.”

Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “To enable us to respond and adapt to emerging and new crimes, it is imperative that we are innovative and agile. We have a fantastic talented and diverse workforce and we have empowered them to come up with new ideas to bring about change.”

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