Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Newspaper column 4 May 2016 - Police and the PCC Elections

Last Saturday night I was privileged to go out on the night shift with the local police based in St Austell who patrol south of the A30 from Grampound to Lostwithiel.  My thanks go to the officers who took me out on patrol; they taught me a lot about the challenges of policing in our area.

I understand that the scenes I witnessed were a typical Saturday in mid-Cornwall and this gave me deeper understanding of the issues that we face in our communities.

So what is a typical Saturday night for the police in our area? It included a suspected drink driver, a domestic violence situation, antisocial behavior and call outs for assault.  It underlined a number of issues for me. 

Firstly, the important role that the police play in keeping us all safe. We are lucky to live in one of the safest areas of the UK and the police help to keep it that way. Secondly, it reminded me that while we still face big challenges, overall crime is down and this is a reflection of the great job that the police do.

On Thursday 5th May you have the opportunity to vote for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  I urge you to take the opportunity and to vote for this important role.

There has been a great deal of misunderstanding about the PCC role.  It was set up in 2011 in response to the fact that the police force was seen as remote and unaccountable.  The role of the PCC is to hold the local force accountable on behalf of the public.  This is your representative, the person who can directly influence the strategy and operations of the local force.

The PCC role brings direct democratic accountability to policing and gives a name and a face for the public to engage with.  Who can name any of the members of the previous police board? I certainly cannot – they were a remote and faceless body that lacked transparency.

The PCC has the responsibility of appointing the Chief Constable, helping to set the strategic direction through the Police and Crime Plan, and to turn the public’s crime ambitions into actions.  As well as this they have wider responsibilities that include the delivery of community safety, crime reduction, commissioning victims’ services and a duty to deliver better value for money.

The Conservative candidate in Thursday’s election is Alison Hernandez and I fully support her candidacy. I know Alison well and her 6 point plan addresses all of the key issues that I believe a good PCC should cover; to get the best funding deal; safety on our streets; safety online; to support those affected by crime; to improve the reporting of crime especially 101 and to review the closure of police stations.

So once again I urge you to go and vote for this important role on Thursday and help to maintain our fantastic police force.
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