Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner candidates' profiles
Who will run your police force?
On November 15 voters go to the ballot box to elect the first American-style Police and Crime Commissioner. Here are the profiles of all ten candidates for the Devon and Cornwall force’s top job. There are 41 forces across England and Wales, but nowhere is the competition as fierce as it is in Devon and Cornwall. Voters in the two counties (including the Isles of Scilly) will have to choose between four party candidates – Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and UKIP – and six independents. The Police and Crime Commissioner will have political and budgetary control over the force but operational policing will still be run by the Chief Constable. The Commissioner will replace the work of the existing Police Authority, which is made up mostly of councillors appointed by local authorities across the region. A new Police and Crime Panel will oversee the work of the commissioner. Keith Rossiter reports.
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AN ACCOUNTANT by profession, he is the Lib Dem leader of North Devon District Council, former leader of Devon County Council and former chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority.
He has served on a Home Office working party on police finance and efficiency, and is a board member of CEOPS, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
He is standing as an independent because he believes the Commissioner’s role should not be political.
“I robustly opposed this legislation, but the Lib Dems in Parliament voted it through.
“Sixty per cent of the public don’t want party politics to be brought into policing.
“I am also concerned about all power being in the hands of one person.
“I am also concerned about the £80million cost of this election at a time when we are losing police jobs.”
He is used to handling large sums of money. Devon County Council’s annual budget was £1.3billion, compared with the force’s £294million.
“When I was chairman of the Police Authority in the late 1990s and early 2000s I introduced the increased head count from 2,800 to 3,500 officers.
“There was a real need, so I am desperately concerned about the cuts we are having to make now.
“I want to arrest the decline. The thin blue line is getting too thin.”
PCSOs and Specials: PCSOs were introduced when he was chairman of the Police Authority, but he says the Government is changing the way they are funded and “some of us are concerned that we won’t get as much money”.
“My pledge would be to continue to fund them. They are very popular in the community.”
Traffic accidents and road closures: He said roads were sometimes closed for 12 hours after an accident.
“I don’t think they need to be closed for that long. I want to look at ways we can open roads more swiftly.”
Anti-social behaviour: “This is still a concern in communities and causes a lot of upset.
“I want us to do more to reduce that problem.”
Burglary: “Burglary is still a problem, not that the numbers are enormous. But I feel for people whose property has been invaded.”
Safeguarding vulnerable people and children: “Other agencies have a part to play but the Commissioner would need to have a lead.”
Deputies: “I intend to appoint two part-time deputies to assist me, one for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and one for Devon. Devon and Cornwall is a big place and I couldn’t be everywhere when people want me.”
Bobbies on the beat: “There is very much a reassurance agenda, and people like to see a uniform on the street.
“We have got an education job to do. With diminished resources we have to be clear about how we use officers’ time.”
Drugs: “There is a case to be examined for legalisation.
“Drugs do a lot of harm. But in some cases, with the right medical evidence to support it, there might be a case to legalise some of the lesser drugs.”
UK Independence Party
MR SMITH, 60, lives in West Cornwall, near Land’s End.
He is a psychologist, dealing mostly in education and advising the courts in family law on child protection issues. He has worked in the private and public sectors.
“That puts me in touch with people in the voluntary sector who liaise with the police.”
He says he was one of the original members of UKIP and stood against Sebastian Coe in Falmouth and Camborne the 1997 General Election.
What qualities would he bring to the role? “I think the quality is the person. This is a new role and it has to be determined very much by the personality of the person elected.”
“I think I would bring independence. I am an independent thinker and being an early member of the UK Independence Party proves that.”
“Our view in UKIP is that we believe in self-government and will do anything to protect the people of this country.
“It’s important for local people to have local representation.
“There is nothing that stops us working on an agreement with the European police force, Europol, but we oppose the European arrest warrant. But that’s not something the Commissioner can decide.
He admitted that living near Land’s End would put him a long way from police headquarters in Exeter, but said: “Communications are such that you don’t have to live next door any more.”
Commissioner’s roadshow: “I would start by listening to as many people across Devon and Cornwall as possible. I would have a roadshow.
“I would have a series of meetings in towns and villages and I would listen and learn.
“I believe this is a very serious post. UKIP doesn’t technically support the idea of having a Commissioner, but I believe it could work out better than UKIP fears.
“It is an opportunity to reconnect with people – with communities, criminals, the police.”
On all other issues, Mr Smith said it would be up to people to say, during his roadshow, what they wanted.
“I have no clever ideas at all. An idea might be lurking in the far West of Cornwall that has not been presented yet.”
Zero tolerance: He favours a hard line on criminal behaviour, “but that depends on the opinion of the people. It’s going to be quite a difficult job to represent everybody.”
Legalising drugs: “My job wouldn’t be to make policy. It would be to listen and learn.
“If people want it I will put it forward, although I’m not necessarily a supporter of that position.”
Police budget cuts: “It’s going to be very difficult and it is partly responsible for the way the police feel undermined.
“We need to rebuild trust.
“I would look at the situation when I get in. We’d have to get down to it very quickly.”
Bobbies on the beat: “I would agree with the public who want more bobbies on the beat. A visible presence is a deterrent in itself.”
A FORMER police detective chief inspector who lives in Yealmpton, South Devon, Mr Blake started his 31-year police career in Torpoint and Looe.
He was posted to Plymouth in 1977, and later served on the national and regional crime squads. He has worked alongside Europol and other European police forces.
After retiring from the police he worked in personnel vetting for the Ministry of Defence and Nato.
“I spent six years as a uniformed sergeant,” Mr Blake said. “That, more than anything, allows you to see what the public wants and needs, and to see their problems.”
One of the new commissioner’s first jobs will be to write a police and crime plan with the Chief Constable. “The trick, as I see it, is how the chief will be able to deliver more with less.”
He is standing as a Lib Dem, but says: “There is nothing political about having your house burgled, or being kept up all night by noisy neighbours.”
Voluntary groups: “There are an awful lot of voluntary groups doing excellent work. I want to beef up their role in reducing crime.
“Broadreach in Plymouth does excellent work with drugs and alcohol.
“The Commissioner will get funding which is now dished out by the Ministry of Justice for these groups.”
The “Specials”: He wants to strengthen the role of Devon and Cornwall’s 500 Special Constables. This could mean copying the police volunteer schemes seen in some parts of the country.
Rehabilitation: “We need to manage long-term offenders to make sure there is some rehabilitation. It’s not popular with the public, but it has to be done. At the moment people servicing a sentence of a year or less get no support.”
Anti-social behaviour: “If you start bearing down on litter and graffiti, you give people more sense that their area is worth living in.”
Drugs and crime: “They are joined at the hip.
“I don’t favour legalisation of drugs, but I am in favour of giving support to addicts.
“I wouldn’t like the idea of my local chemist being able to sell heroin that my children could go out and buy.”
Alcohol: He is against 24-hour drinking and in favour of the new option to impose a levy on late-night venues to pay for policing and clean-up operations.
“These people are making a profit and taxpayers are having to foot the bill for it.
“You only have to read the pages of The Herald to see the problem of violence outside late-opening clubs.”
Bobbies on the beat: “I would like to see a bobby on the beat every day, but the reality is that budgets are being cut.
“Special Constables and Police Community Support Officers will have a big role to play.
“I am in favour of walking the beat, but behind the scenes there are things like internet crime and paedophiles that do not require street patrols.”
A SOLICITOR in Penzance for 40 years, he now works as a consultant, both defending and prosecuting in court.
“It means I see both sides,” he says. I am the only candidate who is up to date in going to police stations and doing police work.
“I am in police stations most weeks. I know how the system works and how it can be improved. We have got to use our officers more effectively.”
He said he was standing as an independent because he believed the Commissioner should not be party political.
He said he hoped that independent candidates would be elected to run many of the country’s forces and could then work together with “a genuinely independent voice”.
“Some candidates who were on the Police Authority don’t want to change it at all.
“I think you need someone who is enthusiastic and wants to change the system.”
Interview teams: “We did have a system that we should go back to, of dedicated interview teams.”
These would be teams of civilian staff, possibly former officers, who would specialise in questioning suspects.
He said it would cut paperwork and duplication and allow officers back on the front line.
Drugs and alcohol: “They cause so much crime because people need the money for their habits.
“People used to be sent to a drug and alcohol agency after they were arrested, but it was a bit of a joke because they only had to say ‘Hello’, and then they would be let off.
“I want to reform that system and beef it up.”
Criminal justice: He would want to press the Government to change sentencing guidelines to encourage people to admit their crimes in the police station.
“There is so much repetitive paperwork. It could all be speeded up if someone admits their crime.
“If someone admits having cannabis, what is the point of sending samples off to be analysed. So much money is wasted.”
Bobbies on the beat: “People do need bobbies on the beat. We ought to build up Special Constables and PCSOs.”
Legalising drugs: “This is a difficult one. A new report suggests that even cannabis affects young people.
“I’m not sure cannabis is a great priority for the police, but it can lead on to other things.”
Police and the public: “Sometimes the police are a bit officious. People say that if they’re stopped for speeding and are given a warning rather than ending up with penalty points, they respect the police more.
“Restorative justice involves the police being seen more as a friend than a foe.”
DNA databases: The police keep the DNA records of everyone who has been arrested, whether charged or not.
“I am probably in favour of them being kept. If you have done nothing wrong what have you got to fear about where your DNA turns up?
“We shouldn’t tie the police’s hands. Any means they have to investigate ought to be available.”
TORY candidate Tony Hogg believes the police face multiple challenges and need a strong leader to take them forward.
“My background is all about leadership,” said Mr Hogg, who was Commanding Officer of Royal Naval Air Station, Culdrose, in Cornwall.
At Culdrose he managed 3,000 personnel and a budget of £90million.
It was the apex of a 33-year naval career which included five ship commands including HMS Chatham based at Devonport.
He saw active service in the Falklands War and the Arabian Gulf, and was awarded the Air Force Cross for his role in a 1978 air sea rescue.
Since leaving the Navy, he has run a charity offering adventure activities, including behavioural support to Cornwall’s “hardest-to-reach” young people.
From 2000 to 2007 he worked for Westland as their link to the MoD. “That gave me a good insight into business practice,” he said.
Police and the community: “My concept for all of this is to cut crime by bringing policing back closer to the people.
“Police have become distanced from the community and take more and more of their lead from Whitehall.”
He said that few people he was meeting on the doorstep knew about the Police Authority.
“The Commissioner will have to give clear leadership to restore morale and respect for the police.”
Budget: “One of the Commissioner’s primary roles is to argue for a fair slice of the policing budget that recognises Devon and Cornwall’s rural/urban challenges and a big summer increase in the population.
“The Chief Constable is already arguing that case, and I’m not sure how much support he gets from the Police Authority.”
Police numbers: “The key role would be to argue the case to stem the reduction of police numbers.
“That would mean looking at the funding formula, and looking at waste where it exists.
“We need to have a properly equipped front line and target criminals. We need to be aware of the growing threats of domestic and sexual violence.
Lower level crime: “Alongside our police officers we must ensure that the community plays an active part in policing – that includes businesses playing a part, street pastors, and we need more special Constables.
Young people: Early intervention with young people is vital.
“We must find solutions to break the circle of crime for young people.
“I want to see a branch of the police cadets in every town.
Legalising drugs: “I am aware of the strong arguments for legalisation. But the use of drugs is a slippery slope to wider use. And I am also concerned that it will bring mental health problems. So I am for upholding the law as it is on drugs.”
Politicising the police: “People worry that if candidates are under a party banner this will bring politics into policing, but the Commissioner will have to take an oath of impartiality.”
MR MORRIS, from Penzance, heads the Next Century Foundation, a charity which promotes conflict resolution and reconciliation, principally in the Middle East.
A former farmer, he was a prison visitor for ten years and served on a public protection committee.
“In nearly a decade I never visited anyone who was in prison for violent crime whose crime was not related to drugs or alcohol.
“I also visited a young offenders’ unit and found it very tough. We had a high rate of suicides which persists to today.
“It’s really the worst environment for what are essentially children. It’s no solution.”
“Policing is about peace-making in a way. If you’re building a safer society you are bringing together working groups to look at the problems and resolve them.
“You need to talk to people to resolve a crisis.
“When I heard about this election I was incensed that it was going to become party political. The South West has a tradition of independents.
“I have more radical policies than the other candidates, who are all good, solid people. If you elect me things will be significantly different.”
Targets: “I will introduce local targeting. Plymouth has double the average crime level of the rest of Devon and Cornwall.
“That’s not to say things are bad, but there are particular problems related to the night-time economy.”
Zero tolerance: “We will have a kind of zero tolerance of alcohol-related street crime that people will be surprised at in areas where things have got out of hand.”
Community payback“I want to extend the Brixham experiment, which kicks in as an alternative to arrest from the minute a child gets into trouble.”
Drugs and alcohol: He wants to set up a farm as a detox centre for under-21s addicted to drugs and alcohol. This would be paid for by selling off redundant police premises.
“Plymouth has four community detox nurses. We will increase that to eight.”
Legalising drugs: “We already have de facto legalisation of soft drugs because by and large the police are not going after young people with soft drugs.
“Whatever I want, the country isn’t going to legalise drugs, and I don’t entirely agree that we should be complacent about cannabis.”
Bobbies on the beat: “It may be an ineffective way to catch criminals, but I am in favour. Everybody has a right to freedom from fear, and if people are frightened they need to see police on the streets. We have 505 Special Constables in Devon and Cornwall, and I would like to see that number doubled.”
Budget cuts: “There are measures we can take to reinforce local policing, and I am going to increase policing on Friday and Saturday nights. I am not going to allow policing to be cut. There are ways of doing that through better housekeeping.”
MR MACPHERSON declined to be interviewed by The Herald, and instead issued the statement below.
1. I am not one of the usual suspects of public servants standing in one guise or other. 14yrs military service and 10yrs working within the community has awarded me, at street level, the gravitas to meet this new challenge, be positively critical and when appropriate a supportive commissioner to our police service.
2. Senior police officers, through the Chief Constable, must be held to account for actions, and importantly, inaction in police service within their locality. The shadowy faceless Police Authority, failed to bring a community input in to policing. A fresh police strategy is necessary and long over due.
3.Three manifesto issues set me apart:
i: A clear mandate to scrutinise the police service.
ii: Acknowledging the strong appetite for identity, and seeing no adverse effects, I propose to reinstatement, independent of Exeter’s command, a Duchy & Isles police service.
iii: enforce the conditions of community service, use offenders fines to support victims & witnesses and strengthen the execution in punishments to offenders
4. Public access to a sympathetic, highly trained police officer, is becoming less commonplace. Call centres, first response by support officers and increased voluntary sector involvement are all issues that frustrate the community.
Officers are no longer accessible, they drive by in vehicles whilst stations are accessed by appointment only. I have yet to hear of an arrest being made by email or down the telephone.
A proactive police presence reduces the fear of crime in the community. We currently have 3,141 warranted officers employed within Devon & Cornwall police service who’s primary role remains, the protection of life and property, detection of crime and the apprehension of offenders.
5. A combination of factors has led to the perception of 24hour consumption. It is presently not illegal and until such time as the law changes the facility to the public remains available.
ASB committed sober or drunk should be enforced. People should actually be made to take personal responsibility for their behaviour.
6. The impact of a police presence in the community, may in part, be the initial effect of officer redundancies. Yet a police service must be expected to keep apace with the community it serves.
The realignment of manpower, through the synchronisation of shifts and working hours to actual resident and business needs will be essential to formulating a strategy in providing a well resourced balanced 24 hour 7 day police service.
7. Until such times as the effects and consequences are understood by the younger generation, society by and large is not in a position to accept the de classification of recreational & leisure drugs. The scale, associated crime and mental health issues associated with illegal drugs is the single biggest challenge facing our police service today.
I remain a strong supporter of front line police officers but doubt the even-handedness of the processes and red tape hindering the effectiveness of service.
MR SMITH lives in Teignmouth. He is a former Liberal Democrat county councillor and served on the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority – the body which will be replaced by the Police Commissioner. He was its chairman for two years.
He has experience of handling big budgets, including Devon’s annual £480million children’s services bill.
“I fear the Police and Crime Commissioners have been put in a position to be fall guys for the Government,” he said.
“Of all the parts of public service I can think of, this above all should not be politicised.
“I am a people person. I have worked all my life for and with people – as a youth worker, social worker and a teacher.
“I ran a specialist children’s home and remand home for ten years.
“I would bring to the post a high ethical position. I don’t tolerate inefficiency, unscrupulousness or immorality. Whether it’s fiddling things from the office or sexual immorality.”
“The Police Commissioner has to be above criticism and have the wisdom of Solomon.”
Bobbies on the beat: “The police are right to say that bobbies on the beat are not the most efficient way to catch criminals.
“I don’t understand the public desire to see police standing on street corners. By and large that isn’t the way to deal with crime. We need to be intelligence-led.
“PCSOs do give the public reassurance, and in Devon and Cornwall they have virtually the same powers of arrest as regular officers.”
Budget cuts:“The thing that frightens me is that we are facing ongoing cuts. I fear some police operations will become unviable.”
“The task has become more complex and the demands of the public are more complex and they want a better service.
“Terrorism has raised its head and there has been a lot of anxiety.”
Volunteers: “There are two ways through this – to beg and borrow more money from central government, or to make more use of volunteers like Neighbourhood Watch, Special Constables, Street Pastors and prison visitors.
PCSOs: As a member of the group which set up a trial of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), he “unequivocally” supports them.
“In Devon and Cornwall PCSOs have been well supported and greatly welcomed by regular officers.
“I don’t see much point in reducing their numbers. It would be perverse.”
He was concerned about government plans to include funding for PCSOs within the overall police budget: “I think it’s a ploy to reduce the funding.”
Legalisation of drugs: “We spend a significant amount of money chasing down small-time cannabis users. I would question whether we get a good return for that.
“I would have no problem tracking down and being very firm with heroin and cocaine.
“I think we should look at it again and the Government should not be so quick to dismiss the thoughts and arguments of the body they set up to deal with the issue.”
IVAN JORDAN is an architect who trained at Plymouth University. He is a farmer and father and has lived and worked in Devon and Cornwall for 20 years.
He said his business experience was good training “because you need to be able to manage people and details but also to look at things in the round”.
Mr Jordan is 39. He said: “There is a clear case to say that because I am younger than any other candidate, I will be able to bring energy and commitment that they won’t.
“I am also coming fresh to it – I am not a politician. Eight of the other nine candidates are standing for a political party, or have done so in the past.
“The police service does need re-energising. Morale is low. For one thing they are looking at job losses. It’s hard to stay focused when your job is under threat.
“I don’t want any more redundancies.”
Drug addiction and mental health: He would like to see a mental health worker in every custody centre, to deal with offenders with addiction problems or mental health issues.
“Drug addiction is a big source of crime. The crimes of one heroin addict can have a disproportionate effect.
“We are not awash with drug addicts, but in every local authority area there are 50 to 100 and they are the source of a lot of problems.”
Anti-social behaviour: “Asbos are being applied more to adults than to young offenders. Being young does not mean you are a criminal.”
Bobbies on the beat: “Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are the answer. They don’t have full powers but they have a good presence and people like them. I would increase the number of PCSOs if I could.
“I don’t agree with surveillance policy – I don’t want someone looking at me all the time.”
Legalising drugs: “Given the strength of modern cannabis I don’t think we can look at legalisation.
“We do need to look at the way heroin is dealt with. I don’t think methadone is a great solution.”
Privatisation: “This is not going to happen on my watch. If there is one public service that’s special and should not be private it’s the police.”
Budget cuts: “We need to apply some good business management to the way the force runs its budget.
“At the moment it’s a classic public sector organisation. There will be some departments which want to spend all their budget just to avoid losing the money the following year.”
He criticised the way councils partly fund the force through council tax but then claw back £800,000 a year in non-domestic rates.
Community patrols: “Some local authorities are spending taxpayers’ money on community patrols. Exeter spends £285,000 a year on this and it’s basically a bloke in a van. They are basically powerless.
“We could recruit ten PCSOs for that, and they would do a much better job.”
NICKY Williams is a Labour councillor on Plymouth City Council, and Cabinet member for children and young people.
She has a degree in social policy with local government, and a diploma in criminology.
“The job is about strategic policy and prioritising, and managing a huge budget, which are what I do,” she said.
“I am used to implementing cuts in local government – but I am also good at finding the creative solutions to preserve services.”
Although she is the official Labour candidate, and also a member of the Co-operative Party, she said: “There is no place for politics in operational policing. But it’s disingenuous to think that because I’m a party member I can’t stand as a candidate.
“Without the support of the Labour Party I could not afford the £5,000 deposit and could not cover an area the size of Devon and Cornwall.
“I’m a member of the party because, yes, I have Labour values about standing up for people. But this is not about following party policies – it’s a listening role.”
Listening: If you want to find solutions to problems, particularly around crime and re-offending, you have to listen to the people and find out what is going on. Devon and Cornwall is such a diverse area a one-size-fits-all policy is not going to work.
“But there has to be evidence-based policy. It’s not about who shouts loudest.”
Anti-social behaviour: “Anti-social behaviour is a day-to-day fact of life in places like Honicknowle in Plymouth.
“Areas of greatest deprivation are least likely to report a crime.
“I would like to see every person getting a response in 24 hours – and faster in an emergency. But to deliver that we are going to need to work in partnership.”
She said anyone who suffered anti-social behaviour should get access to support.
But she said it was difficult before the election to make specific commitments to funding for voluntary groups.
Funding: She would lobby to get a fairer share of national police funding. “The Government doesn’t take into account the huge summer influx of visitors.”
24-hour drinking: “There is a huge issue of police resources, with trouble trickling out over a longer period.
“But there used to be an issue of people all being chucked out at 2am.
“The reality is that we have the 24-hour drinking culture.”
She said a proposed new levy on late-night venues should be used for frontline policing.
Bobbies on the beat: “They do have an impact on crime. We need neighbourhood police teams and they have to work with the community.
“It’s not good enough to have officers walking up and down the street because that does no good.
“I would like more police on the streets but we have to look at the budget and be a bit more clever about it.”
Legalising drugs: “My gut reaction is ‘No’ to legalisation.”