A couple of weeks ago I was sitting with support workers in a new sexual assault referral centre. We sat on comfortable sofas. The room smelt fresh and clean, with new paint and flowers.
I had introduced these centres, with support from Home Office funds, to help with the most destructive of crimes. As I chatted to a support worker over a cup of tea I realised what that meant. I listened to her describe the case of a girl abused by her own father over several years.
This was a particularly harrowing case. It reminded me that these things can happen anywhere, even in the quietest corners of rural Wales. There are many others, some as serious but many less so.
When I was first elected to this job, I was determined that rural areas and rural crime should not be forgotten. I am even more determined now. Rural policing is not just about rustling and wildlife crime. Rural policing is about protecting the poorest and most vulnerable in our remote rural areas.
I launched my election manifesto with charity Hafan Cymru because I want to use my campaign to tackle abuse in the home.
In my manifesto I am promising to increase support for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. These crimes have a particular ability to rip the heart out of people’s lives, which is why we must support their victims. They are often hidden in our homes, which is why we must all tackle them.
I increased support between 2012 and 2016. If elected I want to increase it further, working with voluntary groups, local councils and the Welsh Government to make sure we spend every penny where it makes a difference.
We need to improve the ability to investigate crimes, in particular digital and cyber investigations, to put dangerous people in prison. But we also need to work harder to prevent these crimes. That means intervening earlier, where abuse is suspected. It also means tackling problems which contribute to abuse, like drugs, alcohol and mental health problems. Where we cannot prevent a crime, we must make sure punishments ensure offenders mend their ways.
To tackle these problems we need more work with local public services. We must not turn everyone, particularly the mentally ill, into criminals. I want to invest more heavily in support with local councils and health bodies. And in turn I want to see them do much more to prevent problems escalating in our local areas. If elected, I will make clear my commitment and my expectation to ensure we protect the most vulnerable in their homes.
I have seen what the role of police and crime commissioner can achieve. I have successfully put more officers on our streets for more time for less money. I have increased support for victims by working with charities like Llamau and Hafan Cymru. I can see what more we can do.
Everyone wants to tackle these problems. I have no doubt my opponents want to do the right thing. But they don’t believe in the role of police and crime commissioner and they don’t have a plan. The choice for the next Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed Powys is clear: my safe plan or their shaky opportunism.
I want a safer Wales and a safer Dyfed Powys. I want our poorest people – those most hit by crime – to be safe in their homes, even in our most rural areas. That is what my plan means: safer homes.
The only safe choice is to vote Christopher Salmon for Police and Crime Commissioner on 5th May.