Naturally I am disappointed at the result. I am though proud that in what (according to pundits) was considered the 6th safest Conservative area in the country, on a normal election method, I came first.
I would like to thank the Returning Officer Stephen Baker and Ingrid and the team here and across Suffolk for their efforts in making the nuts and bolts of democracy work on the day.
I would like to thank the police for hosting this count and for keeping the huge numbers of people queing to vote yesterday under control! I should mention too my thanks to the staff of the Police Authority - particularly Chris Jackson and Claire Swallow. It should be recognised that these staff are the most directly impacted initially by the advent of PCC's. They have worked exceptionally hard to prepare for this fundamental change.
This result shows that Labour is back in Suffolk and not just in Ipswich and Waveney. I have recieved support from people in our villages and in our Market towns. It shows that issues of social and economic justice matter in a big way to people across Suffolk. Thank you for voting for me.
I would like to thank my agent John Cook and Sandra Gage. My thanks also to the hard work by members and supporters of the Labour Party & what I stand for across Suffolk; to the Unions, particularly UNISON and to those police staff who supported me - staff who really understand the challenges facing the police service in Suffolk.
This campaign has been a privilege to be part of. I have met with so many people across our diverse county who have shared with me their personal experiences of crime and their fear of crime.
The key planks of my campaign have resonated with people and these are:
Saying no to privatisation
Stopping the cuts because by cutting more than 15,000 police officers this government is only going to undermine the fight against crime
Protecting local & visible policing which is at risk because of the cuts
Putting victims first & at the heart of the service - including vulnerable victims such as women and girls, children and older people, those with disabilities and those from black and minority ethnic communitites.
These messages have gone down well with people and are reflected in the result.
I pass my congratulations to Tim and wish him well in his new role.
I look forward to continuing to play a part in ensuring that Suffolk is a safer place to live, visit and work for everyone.
Saturday, 10 November 2012
The election next Thursday – 15th November – brings a big change to how Suffolk’s police service is run. I am asking for your support because I have the skills to make the new job of Police and Crime Commissioner work for all of our communities.
I have worked for organisations large and small, including Tesco, Harrods and Mothercare, and in the public sector too. I was Chief Executive of a charity working with vulnerable victims of crime. I have also worked within our prisons and with ex-offenders. Alone amongst the candidates I have worked at top management level for Suffolk Police.
I have a reputation as an achiever and independent thinker, working at a strategic level, managing large scale budgets, making far reaching and difficult decisions based on strong analysis of information. All are vital skills and capabilities essential to the role of Commissioner in today’s tough times.
As well as indispensible business skills, I have unique first hand experience of our Police service. I also have direct insight into the lives, impacts and journeys of victims and witnesses through our criminal justice system. I understand too the priceless contribution of the voluntary and community sector to the quality of our lives.
I am hugely supportive of the Police. They do an incredible job, sometimes under the most difficult of circumstances. I know this because I have worked with them and been out on patrol. Watching them deal with intense provocation with skill and humour cannot fail to command respect.
We all know the Police are affected by cuts to public services. Hard choices are being made; services reduced, merged, or, in some cases, abolished. Weighing those decisions, gauging their impact and tough questioning is a crucial part of the Commissioners job and so is ensuring the public have a full chance to ‘have their say’.
The Commissioner needs to lead a full and open debate on ranking priorities, how tight resources are best used and how we can jointly fight to win the best deal for Suffolk. Without a willingness to question, challenge and evaluate police effectiveness, the role will be a waste of money – an expensive rubber-stamp.
My vision is based on many months spent listening to local people in towns and villages right across the county and many years working within criminal justice. You have told me you want a safer county and a Police service that is open, accountable, forward looking and takes onboard the views of those it serves – you, the people of Suffolk.
· I will defend visible local policing in rural and urban areas. I support maintaining and, if possible, increasing front line operational policing roles including the Special Constabulary and PCSO’s.
· I will also defend less visible policing – especially those units that protect our young people and children from internet crime and sexual abuse.
· I want to put victims first – including swift and effective responses to anti-social behaviour. I also believe recent cuts to compensation for those whose lives are permanently damaged by violent crime are disgraceful.
· Restorative justice works but it needs developing to succeed more widely.
· In too many instances privatisation has failed - from the debacle of G4s at the Olympics to non-stop rises in fuel costs. That’s why I’m squarely opposed to handing police functions to private firms to run. Suffolk Constabulary is already taking back previously ‘outsourced’ work where expectations or promised savings have not been delivered. Improved efficiency and effectiveness is achievable, without outsourcing.
· I will work with any and all organisations, communities and individuals who are committed to cut crime, reduce reoffending and promote rehabilitation. Public services under pressure need to cooperate more than ever. The closure of acute hospital beds for those with severe mental illness for example can simply shift a health problem onto the police, courts and prisons.
Restoring a clear link between the public and their Police can bring real benefits. People have told me they want their Police service to be more accountable to them. Commissioners bring with them increased flexibility to manage policing activities in response to the needs and priorities of local communities.
The Commissioner job is an enormous challenge that will put whoever is elected on a steep learning curve. It’s a new and radical departure without a blueprint to follow. I am no stranger to the hard work or the learning needed to meet that challenge. I believe my background will serve me well. My solemn undertaking to the people of Suffolk is to give my total commitment to the role.
Sunday, 4 November 2012
1. During a time of government cuts, how would you protect community policing teams?
Public visibility, engagement and responsiveness of uniformed staff, critical to public confidence and well-being are not best measured by crude figures of overall staff numbers or posts. I am already hearing about reduced visibility of PCSO’s for example when talking with people on the doorstep or in their High Streets. I want to see developed, in partnership with local people, widely understood measures that can be tracked over time and used to check that resources are deployed where they are needed. That these measures focus on community policing teams.I think that in order to supplement, not replace, these teams there needs to be a drive again to recruit more Special Constables. Also to consider schemes such as officers (Police, PCSO’s and Specials) on bikes for this might go some way to increasing visibility of community policing teams. There are 22 PCSO posts currently funded from sources other than Suffolk Police, and these need to be protected.
Suffolk Police Authority has received positive reports from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for it’s innovative approach in developing ‘shared services’ with Norfolk Police as a means of limiting the impact of financial pressures on ‘front line’ uniformed staff numbers. I know that without such collaboration Suffolk would be unable to survive the cuts and I don’t have a problem making economies in this way.
I am though concerned that Suffolk gets a good deal from all joint initiatives like this and critically that Suffolk people are more informed and engaged than they have been through proper consultation on such changes. I will be looking into collaboration in some detail to ensure there is no longer term impact on community policing teams. I do not want to see a merger of the two forces developing by default or, ultimately, the appointment of a single Chief Constable.
I have pledged to keep police on the street. I stand against the privatization of policing services as I believe it will impact negatively on community policing teams. The push for privatization is significant in our region and a major contract for Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire has just been postponed until after the PCC elections. We are seeing reference to ‘patrols’ in such contracts. Our police service is based on policing by consent and the idea that police officers are members of the public. Community policing teams are also supported by a whole range of other police staff and other agencies.
I do not believe our model of policing can be realised if we have private companies delivering a range of policing services from patrol through to the control room. We are already seeing private firms delivering public services refusing to answer Freedom of Information enquiries. They are able to do so under the guise of ‘commercial confidentiality’ and this means that transparency and accountability to local people is eroded. There is also concern that contracts purchased by the Government have wasted money and there appears to be no clear strategy to protect community policing.
2. Is spending £70,000 + on a PCC salary the best use of scarce public funds in this time of financial austerity?
I believe that the concept of a democratically elected person bringing local accountability to policing is a sound one. Additionally I have pledged to donate a proportion of my salary to charity. When the idea of Police Commissioners was first put forward by Whitehall gurus during the previous government, it was the Local Government Association (LGA) under the Labour leadership of Sir Jeremy Beecham that led the campaign to convince the government that this was a costly and unnecessary exercise.
Unsurprisingly the LGA had the unanimous support of Conservative Councils who all argued that existing Police Authorities were best placed to provide local accountability for the Police. The Conservative Party also though campaigned against the idea of PCCs and accused the government of riding rough-shod over the views of councils. The Labour Home Secretary took the approach from the LGA seriously, and reversed the decision to set up elected PCCs. It was surprising therefore that that the Conservative-led government should then institute elected PCCs so soon after taking power.
The annual salary is in fact the least of it. The costs of the legislation and elections at this time could, according to some estimates, have funded an additional 5000 police officers. In Suffolk, the basic allowance of each Police Authority member (currently 17) if claimed, is over £7k p.a. on the basis of a commitment of 25 hours per month. The total Police Authority budget is currently just over £1 million. This budget will be subject to cuts, but the Police & Crime Commissioners office (including the PCC salary) will eventually come from it.
Having said all of this, the people of Suffolk now deserve the best candidate. A PCC who has not had direct experience of working with the police and the wider criminal justice system and those most vulnerable in our society, will not be able to ensure that the police’s limited resources are spent in the best way. Nor will they provide the appropriate level of influence to other critical partners, and so justify the salary. I have the right background and experience which is why I applied. These are political appointments but I am committed to ensuring that I represent all the citizens of Suffolk. I will meet regularly with all political parties & Independent groups in Suffolk.
3. Can you promise to retain and improve existing Safer Neighbourhood Teams?
I ’m happy to commit to retaining Safer Neighbourhood teams and to seeking improvements. It is essential that officers know their communities and benefit from that additional local intelligence that comes from regular contact. SNT’s are however also dependent on a range of partners and this includes the voluntary and community sector, who often play a vital role at a local level. PCC’s have a role, in listening to communities, to ensure that, so far as is possible, policing resources are deployed to reflect public priorities.
PCC’s present a real opportunity to influence other partners to play their part. As PCC, in discussion with the Chief Constable and communities I need to understand what is working and what isn’t and then use my influence to bring partners to the table, to resolve issues of community safety. There are tremendous risks and challenges in trying to achieve this, not least because genuine fears of crime and victimisation and insecurity often do not reflect any calculus of actual risk. Only by working directly with communities, ensuring all interests are represented and have a voice is progress likely to be made.
4. What role do you think the Police should have in establishing positive activities for young people in local communities? What actions would you encourage them to take?
It is vitally important that the police have the opportunity to meet and listen to all sections of the community including young people who sometimes find themselves stereotyped by society. The Stop & Search reference group, led by young black men, I helped set up is an example of that. There are fantastic examples in Suffolk of other successful activities involving the police and young people. I would encourage the police to continue with these, but to ensure that they are inclusive and that they do so with other partners such as schools, clubs etc
Activities must be part of a sustainable wider strategy of meaningful youth engagement to improve trust and confidence and safety of our young people. Young people themselves need to be at the heart of this strategy and design it and they need to say when they want the police involved and when they don’t. I have already spoken with many young people, including Suffolk Youth Parliament, about a youth led policing forum in localities. As we have seen youth services disappear across Suffolk the role of the police and the PCC to influence other partners to develop positive activities will be more necessary.
5. Do you agree that rehabilitation should be the focus of the justice system? Would you promote community sentences and restorative justice for less serious crimes?
Yes, I do, with some caveats. I wanted to comment firstly though that we need to ensure offenders are brought to court much more quickly than is currently the case. This will be better for victims and means better outcomes for Restorative Justice, where it is agreed.
Recidivism measures the current failure of our criminal justice system to contribute to building a better society. If we can avoid criminal records for low level crimes then we are giving people better opportunities not to reoffend. Prisons are needed but the lions share of their costs are devoted to security not the rehabilitation of those sent there. I have 1st hand experience of some of Suffolk’s prisons and have been actively involved in providing meaningful work experience for young & adult offenders and ex offenders. As PCC there are some challenges here as the majority of Suffolk’s offenders spend their time in prisons outside of Suffolk.
I think there are opportunities as part of a wider national network of PCC’s to look at this issue along with colleagues in Probation, Prison, Courts, Crown Prosecution Service and voluntary and community sector working in this area. I will seek to influence rehabilitation opportunities for Suffolk offenders to reduce their reoffending rates when they return to Suffolk. This will include challenging the cuts to education, drug and alcohol services and ensure perpetrator programmes linked to domestic violence, sexual violence and hate crimes are available.
I am a strong supporter of Restorative Justice as used effectively it can help turn lives around and have a significant impact on reducing reoffending rates. Research undertaken by the Restorative Justice Council shows higher level of victim satisfaction and reduced reoffending rates. It is vital though that it is delivered by accredited experts and subject to close scrutiny, evaluation and monitoring. The Labour Party wants to see Restorative Justice offered routinely to all victims as part of sentencing requirements.
Community Resolution again is an effective tool, delivering justice and solutions at a local level with no need to go to court. I know however that the victim does not necessarily have to agree to Community Resolution as an outcome and the police officer has discretion (this may change with the recent announcements on this by the Conservative Party) I was concerned to read recently that whilst Suffolk has a high use of Community Resolution there were some offenders who had been the subject of multiple use of Community Resolution. It must not be used in place of alternative sanctions and rehabilitation tools in order to drive up detection rates and reduce the burden on a reduced and stretched court service. It has an important role to play and should be used wisely, by well trained officers, and its use, including victim satisfaction rates, must be closely monitored and evaluated.
I believe that the needs & wishes of victims should be central to the criminal justice system. There is an important role too for independent specialist victim services to help victims make the right decision. As PCC I want to ensure that these tools are used in the right place at the right time and that those delivering them are effectively trained to do so.
6. How would you support the right to peaceful protest?
The police have a vital role to play in ensuring that peoples’ right to peaceful protest is properly protected and respected. This is true for Countryside Alliance supporters to those protesting against cuts to disability benefits. I have taken part in many peaceful protests. We have a proud, legitimate and strong tradition in the UK of setting new standards and norms and producing change, through peaceful protest. This includes maintaining the right for life to continue as normal for those who live, work and visit areas where a protest takes place. It’s not an expensive luxury to be dispensed with. Nor should it be seen as an easy source of savings in straitened times. People will always campaign against injustice and in a changing world what’s seen as unjust will always be changing. As the PCC I will ensure, in discussion with the Chief Constable that this right remains intact and that the police response is effective and proportionate.
7. Would you give more attention to addressing environmental, wildlife and animal crimes?
Yes. One of the most pressing needs for the successful prosecution of environmental crime is a realistic schedule of penalties. I will seek to ensure that Suffolk Police are serious in pursuing environmental crime, working in partnership with Local Authorities and the Environment Agency. Additionally I will use my position (in conjunction with other concerned PCCs) to lobby government to make the penalties for environmental crime sufficiently strong to deter the crime. I would also seek to enable improved enforcement to be funded from the proceeds of the fines. Wildlife crime is often linked to other rural crimes such as theft of diesel and metal.
As PCC I would like to see a clear strategy developed with other statutory and voluntary partners to support enforcement and detection. Animal crimes are also on the increase and we know that in these times of cuts agencies such as the RSPCA, and indeed local animal shelters are struggling to meet demand. Again this is about partnership working, with the voluntary and community sector as key to deliver prevention messages as well as enforcement. I feel that these types of crime are too often ignored unreported and rendered invisible. This needs to change, but it will change only when people believe it’s worthwhile to report such crimes. To get to that position means people having confidence that their reports will be treated seriously and acted upon. As PCC, I will meet regularly with and listen to independent groups that understand and work on these issues and their wider social impact.
8. How would you ensure that the 52,000 people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds living in the County receive equal police treatment and protection?
I would say that the figure given is likely to be a significant underestimate. I know from my previous role this figure does not include a very transient population; people who are sofa surfing or those living in houses of multiple occupation. It is vital that the police have the trust and confidence of all communities if the policing by consent model is to be realised.
Statistically people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities are more likely to be victims of crime and so it is vital that they have high level of trust and confidence in the police. The right sort of training must be delivered throughout the service and a culture of discussion and openness on issues that impact on BME people developed. Officers, police staff and Specials must be empowered and confident in this regard.
Community led reference groups on complex issues of racial inequality such as stop and search are vital. Vital too is working with grass roots groups, who are equipped to understand people’s rights, to allow people to come and talk about their experience of local policing. This should include places where complaints can be aired in a safe place – 3rd party reporting centres for example.
My direct experience of police complaints shows that officers who may display racist attitudes are often poorest in their treatment of people generally. What is important is that outcomes from complaints and challenges are used to shape policy and practice across the organization to achieve change.
I think it is imperative that the Equality Duties are embedded in the police service. Analysis and information on issues such as Stop and Search, Hate Crime (including response times, support for victims, prosecution & outcomes) BME people who are victims of crime, BME people who are perpetrators of crime, Complaints, BME recruitment must be shared in an accessible way. Despite the demographic changes in Suffolk there remains a significant underrepresentation of Black and Minority Ethnic officers and staff in all roles and across the ranks and grades. This needs to be reviewed to understand why in order that positive action can be taken to address the inequalities.
As PCC I will lead on creating a culture of transparency and openness within the service. I will meet regularly with BME communities & representative groups, who must be actively involved in discussions on these issues to arrive at solutions & strategies for change.