When people talk about policing – about law and order, criminal justice and crime – there always seems to be an assumption that these are right-wing issues: Stories that you read in the Daily Mail, shock horror exposés in the Daily Express. I’m standing as the Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner in Devon and Cornwall because I know that that is untrue.
Most victims of crime are the people I came into politics to help, and the greatest impact of crime is on those very same people.
These are the people who can’t afford their own security measures or insurance, who don’t know where to turn when things go wrong, who feel the grinding everyday horror of living in a recession-hit Britain where their jobs, homes and communities are ignored by a Government more interested in cutting taxes for high earners than protecting the people laid prostrate by their own policies.
I’m standing on a platform of five clear pledges:
1. Opposing the Tory Police Cuts
Labour opposed the new Police Commissioners because we think in hard times money must be spent on frontline services. Devon and Cornwall Police has cut nearly 350 officers in the last two years. By 2015 this number will have more than doubled – a fifth of our frontline officers will have been cut. This puts immense pressure on such a large police area, particularly when our population swells with millions of visitors in the summer. When deciding how budgets are spent, I will be your voice in opposing the Government’s cuts.
2. Keeping Police on the beat
When I meet people on the doorstep, I hear how worried they are about the creeping privatisation of our Police – and I hear the same from serving Officers. Companies like G4S are more interested in profit than public service; I am interested in having a visible Police presence on the streets of our towns and city to prevent crime and provide a fast response. In more remote, rural areas people want to know that they can call on a Police Officer, not a security guard.
3. Focusing on Antisocial Behaviour
Antisocial behaviour blights lives, and no-one should feel their concerns are being ignored. In non-emergency cases, I will ensure that all victims get a response inside 24 hours, whether they call from Plymouth or Ugborough, Totnes or Whimple. Tackling antisocial behaviour early and working with Victim Support and PCSOs reduces more serious crime and the fear of crime itself.
4. Working in Partnership
Policing is not just about the Police, it is about all of us working together to prevent crime in our own communities. I will support local councils, community groups and voluntary organisations as they are often the people best placed to provide solutions and ideas for their own areas. I will ensure that Devon and Cornwall Constabulary is a listening organisation.
5. Protecting the Police from political interference
I will guarantee the independence of the Chief Constable in all operational decisions. My role is to make Devon and Cornwall Constabulary an efficient and effective organisation, to be your voice in setting priorities for policing and to hold the Chief Constable to account – working together we can cut crime and make our streets and villages safer for the people of Devon and Cornwall.