Christopher Salmon is Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed Powys.
When I was elected in November 2012, people told me there wasn’t much a Police and Crime Commissioner could do. They wrongly assumed that budget cuts inevitably meant fewer officers and that, as a result, crime would increase.
Fast forward to April 2016. Dyfed Powys has 64 more police officers than in 2012; crime and anti-social behaviour have fallen further and faster than anywhere else in Wales; and victims of crime get more support through localised services. All of this has been achieved while the amount paid by households for policing has been reduced.
None of this has happened through luck, but through tough decision-making. I was elected against a backdrop of falling budgets as the Government began to tackle the deficit, and with a demoralised police force chained to their desks by targets and bureaucracy. Senior officers were mired in Police Authority and local government committee-ism. It was time for change.
I have focused relentlessly on what matters – keeping the public safe. I scrapped targets and prioritised prevention. I insisted on tackling the small things – low level crime and antisocial behaviour – so they did not become the big things. I put rural policing at the heart of my challenge to the Chief Constable and I made victim support local.
That, in turn, meant spending money wisely. My office costs 5.7 per cent less, in real terms, than the Police Authority it replaced. The ten most expensive salaries in Dyfed Powys Police now cost 20 per cent less than when I was elected. I have invested that money in additional police officers.
I scrapped an extortionate Private Finance Initiative (PFI) on Ammanford police station, which saved £3.1 million and re-organised back office functions to save a further £3.7 million. Those savings paid for improved mobile technology which significantly reduces paperwork and enables police officers to spend more than 100,000 hours a year more on the beat.
By making victim support local, we doubled the number of victims we could help and halved costs at the same time. I have increased support for victims of domestic violence and opened new centres so rape victims do not face such long journeys for examination. I commissioned drug treatment jointly with the local health board, which now delivers a wider service for half the cost.
I stood on these things at the election and have delivered. Police and Crime Commissioners are the public’s voice. They are the people you can go to if something needs to change and the people you can sack if they don’t put it right. You vote them in. You can vote them out.
I campaigned to become Police and Crime Commissioner because I saw a chance to make a difference and serve a place I love. I am standing again because I have seen how much we can do, and how much there still is to be done.
If elected in May I want to make sure rural crime and poverty are not hidden problems. I want to focus on making our poorest areas safer because when they are safe, we are all safe. I want every community which wants a dedicated volunteer Special Constable, with full police powers, to get one. I want to ensure offenders pay their debt to society and society helps them mend their ways. So I am asking people to help maintain the progress, and support me on May 5th.