You will have the chance to vote for the next Essex Police and Crime Commissioner in Thursday 5th May. I stood to be the UKIP representative and was one of the final three candidates for that role. After the hustings the party chose Dr Bob Spink. I wish him every possible success, without reservation. At the hustings we each had five minutes to present ourselves. Below is my contribution on the policies that the next Essex PCC should have. It is a couple of months old now, but I think it still stands up and I believe it to be substantially in line with the platform that Dr Spink will be proposing. Here it is:-
It may seem obvious to say it, but the role of the Police and crime commissioner is to represent the electors of Essex to the authorities and not the other way around. We recently received a leaflet explaining the changes to Community Policing in Tendring, my local district council. This was presented at a briefing help jointly by the Chief constable and the PCC. This is part of a wider plan to reduce the number of police stations in Essex from 25 to 10 and to reduce the number of PCSO’s from 251 to 60. The current incumbent, Nick Alston, has simply not done that. He seems to have been captured by the machine. After nearly four years he has proudly announced that he will give his first major speech next month. Not engaging with the electorate of Essex, not representing the electorate of Essex. Not good enough!
The PCC role involves being available to hear the views of Essex residents; directly, as well as through their representatives. These views then need to be challenged, investigated, reviewed, assessed, filtered and prioritised before being raised with the relevant authorities. The authorities that I have in mind are principally the police themselves, especially the Chief Constable of Essex, and also the Home Office. The police are clearly under severe cost pressure. However community policing is absolutely central to the expectations that the electors in Essex, reasonably, have. Our representative has not, in any visible way, fought our corner. He should have done so.
Policing is not all about community policing. There are real issues around;
- Organised crime
- Cyber crime
- Road safety and road traffic collisions.
- Substance abuse and mental health
- Crime prevention
- Crime investigation
- Domestic abuse
- Youth offending
These issues are often related. In Clacton we have a problem with young runners, being used by drugs gangs to supply homeless people, which leads to a stubborn persistence of knife crime. I recognise that these are complex issues. And here’s the thing – Essex Police are deeply disenchanted that they cannot deliver the service that we want. Certainly the PCC has a role in setting objectives and reviewing operational proposals. But the PCC does not need to be an operational policing expert. We already have a whole police forceful of that!
There is also an elephant in this room that cannot be ignored. Immigration. Not all immigration is a good thing. Specifically, the uncontrolled immigration of low skilled labour harms the low skilled labour that is already here. Also, it has the potential to create enclaves that do not integrate properly into the local community. These issues have, at the very least, the potential to affect crime rates. This is an issue that can only be addressed at a European level or by leaving the EU. It is right that the PCC should speak up on these issues.
Whilst the role of PCC is clearly political – an elected position is pretty much the definition of “political”, I support the UKIP position which is against the politicisation of the police force. If elected, I would gladly campaign for the abolition of PCC’s in favour of appointed police boards, if that is the way teat UKIP decides to go.