There are 7 people asking for my vote in the Police & Crime Commissioner election in Hampshire on 5 May 2016 (see the website ChooseMyPcc.org.uk): Richard Adair (LibDem), Simon Hayes (Independent), Don Jerrard (Independent), Michael Lane (Conservative), Robin Price (Labour), Roy Swales (UKIP), Steve Watts (Zero Tolerance Policing ex Chief).
The incumbent is Simon Hayes (you can read an article about my meeting with him a few years back HERE).
I feel political parties and policing don’t mix – can’t say precisely why, but my gut tells me it is wrong. Having said that, only the UKIP candidate included anything to do with roads policing, and in particular cycling, in his manifesto. Roy wrote:
18. I want to re-engage roads policing with the public, draw citizen policemen into prevention and enforcement and re invest in patrol and prevention. I want my office to re-engage with councils on roads safety and facilitate the pedestrian/motorist interface. Our roads are too congested and too dangerous and as such road safety must be a priority. My speed enforcement strategy will be linked to road safety and risk minimisation – not income generation.
19. I want all cyclists and horse riders to feel safe on the roads and will work with all motoring and cycling/riding organisations along with the national park authority and Councils to ensure a greater understanding of cyclists, horse riders and motorist issues, particularly in our national parks.
Questioned about Road Danger Reduction
Anyway, I asked the independent candidates this:
What are your commitments regarding roads policing, specifically road danger reduction?
Below are their responses.
I’ll copy my answer to Cycling UK question which outlines my thoughts.
Thank you for your email. My apologies you’ve had to nudge me for a reply, it is a very busy time!
In direct answer to your question about increasing the amount spent on Roads Policing by at least 2% above inflation and committing to traffic officer totalling 5% of the total number of officers in the constabulary, my answer is that I can’t commit to this.
It would be easy to say yes, and it would be good to be able to offer more roads policing, but the responsibility of a Police and Crime Commissioner more than roads policing – as important as this area is.
Government has cut the policing budget for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by 25% in the past 5 years. The challenge for any Police and Crime Commissioner is to balance the provision across the whole range of policing services against the demand with reducing funds. Here we share a roads Policing unit with Thames Valley Constabulary, enabling us to offer a more comprehensive service than otherwise would be the case. In addition, we are fortunate to have increasing numbers of Special Constables who wish to become involved in roads and response policing. This will allow increased capacity without spending larger amounts as your question asks. We have growing numbers of communities wishing to start community speed watch schemes. (On this point, I’ve been pressing the Home Office to give more teeth to such schemes, beyond the letter writing warnings that go out at the moment). I would like to see, and this is something I’ve discussed with the Chief Constable, neighbourhood police teams be more alert to traffic offences and take action more frequently than appears to be the case at the moment.
Residents of Hampshire and the Island would, I believe, like to see road crime, as all other crimes, reduced. It will remain part of my priority in my police and crime plan under the heading of “prevent crime in the first place”, but I cannot commit to you to prioritise it exclusively above other criminality that is immerging in society, child sexual exploitation, cyber crime against the person and businesses, radicalisation, terrorism or sexual abuse.
Policing, perhaps in the modern era more than ever before, is about balancing resources, transferring resources and working with partners to protect communities.
I hope this answers your question and, if briefly, outlines my rational.
You are quite right that roads policing and specifically road danger reduction are not mentioned in my manifesto.
Essentially that is because it can be taken as read that any person taking the position of PCC must ensure that the sufficient police resources are provided to this critical area, and you can certainly be assured that I am well aware of its importance. Since one of my two sons and one of my only two cousins were involved in serious road traffic “accidents” within the last decade, I certainly have personal experience.
I can demonstrate the importance I have given to this in my campaign by the fact that I took an evening out of normal campaigning last Thursday to attend the Portsmouth Cycle Forum, dealing only with this issue, at least as far as cycles are concerned. As a Parish Councillor in East Hampshire since 2003 this has been one of my top priorities as well.
So far as what I would do if elected Hampshire PCC on Thursday I hope my position is quite clear. I do not believe that any one person can or should be entrusted with doing everything. That is why I have made it clear that if I am elected I shall act as independent and unpaid (but full-time) Chairman of a panel of unpaid volunteers, as with the old police authority. However this time the members of the panel would not be mainly nominated by the local authorities but would instead be mainly nominated by bodies representing particular aspects of public interest. I would certainly expect at least one of those panel members to be a nominee of a recognised group dealing in road safety issues. That person (or persons) would have the specific responsibility of bringing these issues to the attention of the police, via the OPCC, in an informed manner, and to ensure that the necessary actions were carried out.
I should mention that I discussed this method of dealing with important issues with Ms Jenni Douglas-Todd , the then CEO of the OPCC, at the time of the last election in 2012 in which I was again an independent candidate. She thought this was a practical and sensible way to go. Unfortunately I did not win the election that time, and Ms Douglas-Todd was inexplicably paid off with a £220,000 payment a year or so later. The OPCC then found itself paying the new CEO (which is necessary) the PCC, the Deputy PCC (a retired Hampshire policeman and the current PCC’s agent in this election) as well as a number of Assistant PCCs. That is why I have said that the OPCC is a gravy train for retired policemen and clapped-out councillors.
Please let me know if you have any further queries. In the meantime I attach an electronic version of my election leaflet.
Thank you for getting in touch. I very much see Roads policing officers as an essential part of keeping people in Hampshire & IoW safe. Indeed as I do a fully staffed and effective CID, Firearms unit etc. I therefore took the decision not to list the units & officers individually that were essential to keeping people safe – most of them are except in my view PCSOs.
The reduction in RPU resources has as you know led to a false reduction in recorded road & vehicle crime. This is a disaster.
If elected I will review closely how the JoU operates which I understand is often not to the benefit of Hampshire & IoW at the same time I will ensure that officer posts are properly distributed across the force rather than what appears to be a disproportionate loading in neighbourhood teams.
I hope this is helpful.