On Sunday Conservative Home’s Local Government Blog asked ‘Are reformers losing out in Police Commissioner Selections?’ I don’t know what constitutes a ‘reformer’, however I’d like to share my vision for how my election could change policing in Dorset.
A candidate prepared to settle for the status quo would agree to the mix of Council Tax increases and cuts in frontline policing that are currently proposed to tackle the necessary budget cuts.
If I win in November I’m not prepared to accept that situation. I'll be putting my detailed proposals in front of the people of Dorset as the campaign progresses, however I can highlight here some of the areas I'll be concentrating upon
The Police Commissioner’s role will be to translate the views of their electorate in to priorities for their local Force. How can they engage regularly and openly with their electorate? In Dorset I plan to use both traditional and contemporary methods.. Public meetings held annually in each district, much greater engagement through for example, Neighbourhood Watch and Parish Councils and use of social media to widen public engagement.
I’m determined not to raise council tax. Further savings can be made without effecting front line services. Savings through much greater cooperation with local councils, third sector organizations and the public.
My aspiration, despite reduced budgets, is more police on the streets and a more prominent police presence in our local centres. That can only be attained through greater cooperation with other public sector organizations.
More joined up working between Councils and the Police can help deal more efficiently and effectively with issues from anti social behavior to traveller incursions (a particular issue for Dorset).
I’m equally committed to ensuring the relationship between the police and Dorset’s public is improved. Too often the police view those, like Neighbourhood Watch, who try and assist them as an irritant. The overwhelming majority of our residents are law abiding and willing to assist the police. They should be encouraged and enlisted by the police, particularly in crime prevention.
I intend much greater engagement with the Police themselves. It’s unrealistic of the Police Federation to believe that they can be immune from the essential changes being introduced in the public sector.
However the language used in engaging officers and staff needs to be appropriate and proportionate. If we are to change the basis of police officer employment, as the Winsor report suggests, then we should also accept that their relationship as employees should be normalized too. For that reason I embrace and don’t fear, allowing police officers the ability to take industrial action.
New technology offers enormous opportunities. For example, GPRS tracking of police radios has negated the need for officers to double up while on patrol. There are many similar opportunities we should grasp.
From April Police Commissioners assume responsibility for disbursing the funds currently controlled by Community Safety Partnerships. In Dorset the ‘No excuses’ publicity campaign highlighting driving offences has had excellent results. I would intend widening the campaign to cover Anti Social Behaviour, drink and drug related crimes.
These are some of the ideas that I’ll be putting before the electorate in Dorset in November. My vision is radical and reforming. It won’t be implement overnight but will, I am sure, change policing in my home county for the better.