Voters head to the polls to select police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire
- Credit: Archant
Voters will head to the polls today (May 5) to select who they want to become the next police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire.
The current incumbent, Sir Graham Bright, became the county’s first ever commissioner when he took office in 2012 but announced in October last year that he would not be seeking re-election. Four candidates have put themselves forward for the role, representing Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives, and UKIP. Here, and in their own words, the candidates vying for your votes make their cases for election.
“I’ve lived in Cambridgeshire all my life so I know about local issues. In terms of my commitment to public service, I’ve got 16 years under my belt already.
I’ve got to a point with my leadership at Huntingdonshire District Council where I can leave a positive legacy in the work I’ve done and the financial position the council is now in. I’m ready for the next challenge.
“The biggest gripe you hear time and time again is that you don’t see policeman very often - that has to fundamentally change. We have to go back to ‘community policing’, and that doesn’t just mean a police car driving in and out of cul-de-sacs around town.
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“Rather they get involved in their community, getting to know the issues. More front-line police officers are one of my key priorities, though it’s never easy. The police budgets until the end of this Parliament - which will be the full-term of this commissioner - have been protected. So there’ll be no further cuts.
“Where we can now box clever is by driving out every single piece of waste.
“Sir Graham Bright made a very good start. You can never say what job losses are or what they’re not, but clearly one of the biggest central costs in back office is staff. “There are more innovative ways you can do things, and there are some services that, with collaboration and sharing, you can drive huge amounts of costs out of. But I would rule out job losses on the front-line because that’s what people fundamentally feel is most important.”
“I was a firefighter for 30 years, before becoming an academic. I completed a PhD in public service culture and I’m currently a city councillor.
Talking to people is really important. The commissioner’s job is to be the representative of the people.
“I’m going to go out into the communities, with senior police officers, and really talk to people. The communities and the police officers under my chairmanship will come to the agreement about priorities.
“I don’t think senior officers fight crime - senior officers set strategy. I’m trying to ensure that the police do what the public want them to do. The police work enormously hard, but I know from talking to the public and from my own research, that there is a gap. I want to fill part of that gap.
“At the core of everything I intend to do is local consultation. My argument about bobbies on the beat is really clear. I’ve heard very strongly from people in Peterborough, Cambridge and Huntingdon.
I’m pledging to put a constable on the beat in all three cities whose sole job is to patrol. I’m hoping to fund that in part from commissioner’s office savings. If there are going to be any savings, it ought not to be in front-line policing.
“I think if the 101 phone service can’t be answered within two or three minutes, it shouldn’t be there. It’s ridiculous. It puts the police into a bad name.”
“The first thing to do is acknowledge that people want to see policemen on their streets. By acknowledging that, we should then insert that within the policing plan. “We have to work with the resources that we’ve got. I’m committed to the fact that I believe policemen on our streets reduces crime, so I’d like to create zero-tolerance teams, small teams of police officers that will descend upon communities across the county on a random basis, to make their presence known, to soak up some of the low-level crime, the anti-social behaviour, the parking infringements, the speeding, to reassure people that the police are there, but also to disrupt the criminal behaviour.
“When we talk about hotspots we need to be careful what we mean. The largest amount of crime is in Peterborough, but rural crime is almost ignored at the moment. “It’s under-reported, but there’s people having harm done to them there. We need to be a lot more systematic in our thinking. It’s not just about being reactive to crime that takes place - it’s also about trying to prevent crime happening in the first place.
“These zero-tolerance teams that I’d like to send around Cambridgeshire will give reassurance to people. The whole process needs opening up to the public a lot more, and that’s one of my key ambitions.
“If I’m elected I will be doing away with the thirty-plus thousand pounds deputy. That’s a saving straight away for the people of Cambridgeshire.”
“I have a great deal of experience, both in policing and security. I’ve had a number of senior management positions, so think I can bring energy, ideas and experience to the role in a way that will make it more effective.
“I’ve always done public service. My parents were both local government officers. I’ve done lots of stuff. I was a custody visitor. I’ve been on the ID panel pool of people. I’ve worked in the public sector. It’s an obvious step for me to continue doing what I do as a day job, but again for the public.
“Most of us know somebody who’s had a credit card or their identity stolen. That’s a low-level piece of crime that lots of people suffer from, so dealing with that is quite important. I have a number of ideas which have been proven to work elsewhere, and are working in Cambridgeshire too, to reduce crime. Focus on re-offenders, make sure first-time offenders don’t offend again - those things drive down crime and will help us all.
“Last time round in November the turnout was very low. It was a standalone election, not much publicity. There’s not much publicity this time, but in large parts of the county there are other local elections going on too.
“We anticipate that by having a blended campaign where we’re talking about local issues, local councils and also weaving in crime and policing issues, we will get more votes, and will do rather well this time.