May began with a wonderful day at the Watford Diversity event with different faiths, cultures and nationalities being celebrated in music, dancing, martial arts, discussion, food and much more. I was privileged to help cut the celebration cake and meet those who had worked so hard to make this a successful day.
The first visiting High Court judge to Hertfordshire during my term came this month to pass sentence in the Cheshunt Care Home case. It was my pleasure to have Mr Justice Dingemans and his wife for supper.
There have been more meetings at Police HQ to learn about the new ECHO initiative – inviting feedback to improve the experience of all those who come into contact with the police – and work on preventing knife crime and the Lives not Knives project.
Work with the Hertfordshire Community Foundation continues, to help stronger links with professionals in the county and planning for a Love Herts day in September.
I have been welcomed at County Hall again to meet with Cabinet Members with responsibility for youth services, youth offending and youth justice as well as volunteering and relations with the voluntary sector.
It was a pleasure to meet with Chris Roach, Chair of Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline, and trustee Kay Carnell, to talk about the work they are doing to make places of work a safe place to talk about domestic abuse. In the year to March 2018 Herts police responded to nearly 20,000 domestic abuse crimes and incidents and national figures show that over 50% of people who endure domestic abuse are targeted by their abusers whilst at work. Related absenteeism and reduced productivity have a huge economic impact on business. HDAH would like to connect with local businesses to help ensure that they have the right policies in place to recognise, respond to and support signs of domestic abuse in the workplace. They can help with resources (such as stickers for the back of toilet doors) and can provide training. The charity is also looking for domestic abuse Champions who can help signpost to sources of help and advice, and they need more volunteers (including occasional volunteers too).
I was interviewed live on Nick Coffer’s show at BBC 3CR and you can listen to us chatting about the role of High Sheriff and my themes for the year here:
I was able to host a lunch at the Crown Court in St Albans and invite guests to meet the judges and talk about interfaith work in Hertfordshire. It is important to consider how faith groups and interfaith work can help prevent our judges in Hertfordshire from having to deal with cases arising from hate crime, as well as ensuring that different faith and cultural groups have confidence in our police and judiciary and feel able to report and bring to court such cases.
It was a great privilege to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham palace with my sons and meet all sorts of different people and hear many amazing stories.
I went to Watford to visit Small Acts of Kindness who provide Warm in Winter and Christmas gifts to lonely and isolated elderly people. They have great local partnerships and their warehouse is at the Veolia site, where many employees also get involved. As always, there is much dedicated work by a team of volunteers who help others with kindness and find that this makes them happier too.
The Hertfordshire County Show was a great success and showcased local farming, small business and many items made in Hertfordshire. I was pleased to present cups to 2 very splendid, immaculate and very large bulls!
The HACRO awards evening is always a highlight and it was my privilege to have been part of the selection panel, as well as to present the awards at the ceremony. We heard some amazing stories of achievement and all nominees have shown real courage and determination in turning their lives around and making positive change away from a life of crime. Receiving an award confirms to winners that they have done something of real value, of which they can be justifiably proud.
It was fascinating to visit the Old Bailey and to meet, amongst others, the Chief Coroner who is trying the Borough Market stabbing case at the moment. With so many of the victims being foreign nationals the eyes of the world are on our judicial process. We had a tour of the court rooms and the cells.
Finally, I spent a day at the magistrate’s court in Stevenage where I was able to observe the work of the Youth Court too. I was reminded that 95% of all cases coming to court will be heard by the magistrates – themselves all volunteers with enormous experience and expertise who give their time to ensure the effective operation of our legal system. Thank you to Nicholas Moss, Chair of the North and East Herts bench, for arranging my visit and being such a source of information.