opcountrysideThe first annual Rural Fire and Crime Conference hosted jointly by Dorset Fire & Rescue Service and Dorset Police saw a wide range of top speakers all focus on one key theme - prevent, protect, preserve.

With crime and arson becoming an increasing issue across the widely rural region the High Sheriff of Dorset, Jeremy Pope OBE, (see pic second right) opened the conference at Kingston Maurward College in Dorchester [27 Apr] by outlining the importance for rural businesses to collaborate with their local Services in tackling this situation in the community.

Following on from that introduction, Superintendent Dave Thorpe (see pic top right) focused on the difficulties of continuing Dorset's proud record of reducing overall crime for the past 14 years straight in the most tumultous policing climate seen in over 200 years.

"We're clearly doing something right and we are determined to continue but they are some real challenges ahead," he said. "The savings we are being asked to make will ultimately mean officers are cut and the proposed changes to policing leadership [with Policing & Crime Commissioners] will have an impact that I don't think the general public truly understand yet."

He went on to stress that a key principle for Dorset would remain "going to the victim first" over any other operational challenges including the upcoming Olympic Games which will have a major impact on nearby Weymouth

The Olympic theme was picked up by Constable Chrissie Plumley (see pic fourth right) who disccused what the Games would mean for Dorset and laid out the challenges facing the region which she said would require "world-class policing, organisation and co-operation".

Dorset FRS Area Manager Clive Baker (see pic second right) brought home the scale of the challenge for Emergency Services in the region by saying that "80 per cent of [small] businesses never recover from a fire".

Given that he laid out a simple plan for local farmers and agencies to get involved in "reduce level of fire, reduce level of risk, reduce level of crime" with NFU Mutual's Mark Timbrell also stressing the importance of the "triumverate approach".

But it was left to event organisers Inspector Les Fry and Inspector Shawn Whitley (see pic third right & front) to highlight the key point of the conference which was "prevent, protect, preserve" and this is a message Dorset Fire & Police hope can be heard across rural communities and brought into urban policing.

Watch Clive Baker disccuss the key challenges of rural fire management (coming soon)

Find out about the local reaction to the event from the Dorset Echo http://bit.ly/Ke9a5N 

Posted 28/04/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com