I’m sure you’ve all heard plenty about this Thursday’s elections concerning the London Mayoral race, the Scottish and Welsh devolved assemblies and local councils. However, what you may not have seen is that this Thursday the entire country will also vote on which ‘Police and Crime Commissioner’ they want to oversee their local police force. The role was created in 2012, and the elections generated much controversy due to garnering an appallingly low turnout of 15.1% We at Exeposé Features are mad about democracy, so we sought out the candidates running in Devon and Cornwall and asked them four questions.
Everyone responded either with a typed reply or full interview apart from Independent candidate William Morris. In part one, we hear from Alison Hernandez (Conservative) and Richard Younger-Ross (Liberal Democrat), who provided typed responses.
Why did you decide to run for Police and Crime Commissioner?
AH: I see this role as getting the best out of the Police and keeping us safe. I’ve worked alongside the Police for much of my career and helped leaders in the UK and Overseas get the best out of their organisations. I’ve won local, regional and national awards for fighting crime and improving democracy. I’ve run a business and trained Police Officers in how to do things better… I’d like to continue getting the best out of the Police and keep us all safe by putting policing at the heart of our communities both in our streets and online.
RYR: There has to be someone to oversee the Police. Hillsborough and the subsequent cover up demonstrates the need for this overseeing to come from a source independent of the Police. I have been involved with forming Police policy since 1982 when I co-wrote a motion on community policing based on the work of former Chief Constable, John Alderson for the Liberal Party Conference. I want to see that John’s policies become a reality. However, I will also campaign to get rid of this post and put the decision making process in the hands of an independent police authority with representatives of the community sitting alongside other stakeholders such as the probation service and mental health services.
What are your key policy ideas?
- Increase a visible uniformed presence by working with the other emergency services and using technology.
- Get the best funding deal from the Government when they change the way they allocate funds.
- Review police station closures so people don’t feel abandoned.
- Improve the 101 service so people don’t have to wait up to 45 minutes to report a crime.
- Support those affected by crime by protected victims and the most vulnerable from harm.
I have three main strategic priorities:
- To secure a fair funding deal for the Devon and Cornwall police force.
- To maintain and improve the visibility of our police force
- To protect the force from a forced merger with Somerset and Avon which would only make decision-making more remote.
My four policing priorities are:
- Find funding for more bobbies on the beat but without taking away from the force’s ability to fight serious crime.
- To improve support for victims of crime, ensuring funding for proper support for the most vulnerable, children who have been abused or neglected, rape victims and those subject to physical violence.
- To ensure the force meet their target response times for 999 calls and the call wait time for 101 calls.
- Improve transparency and make sure those who report a crime know if and when the police will visit.
What are the key issues facing the police force today?
- The threat of online security and safety. In an age where you’re more likely to be a victim of crime online than in the streets where we live we need to develop online policing. This is to keep young people safe and businesses secure.
- Modern slavery. At the moment UK nationals are the third largest group of people who are being exploited. This is happening in the farming and hospitality industry to name a few. The exploitation of male labour is an issue not just women exploited for sex.
- Our 10 million visitors who come to Devon and Cornwall and need to be kept safe. This places a huge burden on policing and we need to get this recognised when the Government change the funding formula for how they allocate funds to Police Forces.
RYR: Funding, which is why it is a priority; the force has nearly 500 fewer offices than 5 years ago. That impacts on all it can do. My knowledge of how Whitehall works gained from when I was an MP should help me secure a fair funding deal for Devon and Cornwall, one that recognises rural sparsity and the length of our coastline, as well as the influx of tourists during the summer.
How will your policies help students?
- Being better able to report incidences through 101 and particularly online will hopefully encourage students to report crimes.
- Better policing visibility will enable a better relationship with Schools, Colleges and University students.
- Online policing will enable those who feel targeted, bullied or concerned better able to access immediate help.
- Finally, having victim services to support those who have been a victim of crime will help them more quickly get their lives back on track.
RYR: I want to see a Youth PCC, greater involvement with Youth Councils and the Youth Parliament. I want to develop community policing and that has to include a greater engagement with the student community. I also support a wholesale review of our drugs policy – which does not work. I would support a drugs policy closer to that in Canada.
You can read Part 2 here.