A Holistic View
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s Police and Crime Commissioner should provide strategic direction not just for the police, but for the work of the courts, prison and probation services, local councils and other bodies with an impact on policing, crime and justice matters in the area; including schools and health service providers. The creation of the role of commissioner provides an opportunity to introduce coherent leadership across the crime and justice sector; any commissioner focusing too much on the police force rather than seeking and utilising wider influence will be failing to make the most of the role.
Localism and Democracy
A single democratically elected individual leading police, crime and justice efforts in a region with a population of ~800,000 people will not, alone, be able to provide the degree of localism and responsiveness that could be achieved by strengthening local democracy. I would like to see local councillors setting local police, crime and justice priorities and holding their local police, and other relevant bodies, to account. Councillors should set local priorities having listened to the views of those with an interest the area, and in light of relevant evidence such as crime statistics and injury data. Through empowering councillors there is an opportunity to create a stronger local democracy and get better councillors.
Office of Constable as Core of Policing
The office of constable is the foundation of policing in the UK. I think it’s important that we support constables and give them the resources and freedom they need to fulfill their role while ensuring there are safeguards in place to make sure the immense power and responsibility delegated to the most junior officers is used appropriately. My view is that constables are better value for money than community support officers, and that there are significant benefits of having routine patrols by constables empowered to take action in relation to offences they observe.
Policing by Consent
A good relationship between the police and public is critical to reducing crime and keeping the country safe; if the relationship breaks down policing becomes harder and policing moves away from policing by consent towards a different tone of policing, policing by force. To maintain a good relationship I want to see routine patrol and response officers remaining unarmed and think it is important that the police do not routinely lie, mislead, or misrepresent their powers, when dealing with the public.
Scepticism of Statistics
Any commissioner should have a healthy scepticism when it comes to police statistics. Key measures to seek to get a precise measure of, and to reduce, include re-offending rates as well the number and severity of injuries related to both crime and incidents on the roads. Increases in rates of reported crime may be positive, and indicate people have greater faith in the police acting appropriately and effectively following reports.
A National Role
The commissioner should play a national role both ensuring the service the local force gets from national agencies, such as the National Crime Agency, is what the areas’ residents require, playing a role in directing and scrutinising the operation of the national agencies. The commissioner will also need to ensure the local force is making its contribution to national efforts relating to terrorism, organised crime, and disorder as well as preparedness for the whatever challenges may emerge be they flooding, industrial incidents, disease or other events.
As yet I don’t think any of the declared prospective candidates in Cambridgeshire are offering what I’m seeking and can’t envisage being able to vote positively for any of them. Nominations close on the 19th of October 2012 so there is still time to stand or nominate candidates and get more options on the ballot paper.