End the Police and Crime Commissioners, they are draining vital Police Resources.

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The Police Service in the UK has never been controlled by Politicians, yet successive Governments have wanted to control the police so that they could impose conditions on Chief Constables and make them into political puppets. 

 The Role of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is to appoint a Chief Constable, Control the Police budget and address local community issues. 

 Before the appointment of PCCs the police were accountable to a Police Authority. With an elected chair-person this group were selected by the community and were made up from elected councillors, local magistrates, community leaders and independent local people. This was done so that the local people's voices could be heard, and if the Police Authority felt action needed to be taken then the Chair would direct Committee's views to the Chief Constable of the area.

Since the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners, front-line policing and police community support officers have been cut drastically, leaving communities isolated from the police. Often, as in Wiltshire, officers are working from council office's or even patrol cars, where their ability to talk openly to their colleagues can be compromised. Morale within police forces would also appear to be at a low, with Wiltshire Police in particular, suffering the second worst dropout rate in the country, at 3.6% from March 2016 to March 2017.

As we know now Police stations are being sold off at an alarming rate meaning that the police are now having to drive 20-30 miles to respond to your emergency. This is not only dangerous for the police officers, who may be driving at a high speed to get to you, but also to members of the public that could get hurt by speeding police vehicles.

Police Commissioners are paid 75k plus and they have an entourage of staff to undertake their role. Often this takes up a million pounds off an already stretched police budget. Police Authorities were elected volunteers who just got paid expenses for attending meeting, so they were far cheaper.

Our Police and Emergency Service's should not be run by one person and they should not be influenced by any political party (Keep politics out of Policing).

The role of the PCC was supposed to be Non-Political, yet by and large only political parties can afford to put candidates up for the position (only 3 out of 40 PCCs are independent).

In addition, the failure to mail manifesto’s to the public during successive PCC elections by the then Home Secretary Theresa May, despite the advice of the Electoral Commission in 2016, has meant that turn out has been very low, with record numbers of those that did vote spoiling their ballot papers because they simply had no knowledge of the candidates. In the Electoral Commissions report on the 2016 elections 60% of respondents reported that they disagreed, or disagreed strongly with the statement: “Do you agree you had enough information on candidates to make an informed decision?” [1]

In a recent article in the Times the freelance writer and former BBC Executive Jawad Iqbal wrote:

“Ministers should have acted on the findings of the 2013 Stevens report into policing, which dismissed PCCs as a “fatally flawed” system. It is time we cut our losses and dropped them. The latest crime figures in England and Wales, published yesterday, show the biggest annual rise in a decade, with rising levels of the most serious violent offences. All the more reason for precious funds to go into frontline policing — not into a discredited vanity exercise that flatters the egos of over-promoted busybodies and failed MPs.”[2]

A former Metropolitan Police officer Peter Kirkham has bullet pointed the following problems across the country [3]

Policing in England and Wales faces a perfect storm:

- Police numbers are down by 20,000 (around 15% of the total) since 2010
- Current police officer numbers were last seen around 1985
- Police staff and PCSO numbers have seen even greater cuts
- Crime is now rising – around a 10% rise year on year from 2015-16 to 2016-17
- There is now very little proactive police activity on the street
- Stop and search (due to May’s directives) has fallen off a cliff
- Police officers are actively discouraged from carrying out stop and search or pursuing vehicles (especially mopeds) which fail to stop
- As a result the streets have been “lost” to the criminals and thugs
- There is now a steady stream of experienced police officers leaving in mid-service
- Stress-related ill-health is through the roof
- Officers (and their families) are being burned out by ridiculous workloads and hours

By taking more from the policing budget than they are giving back, PCCs are a big part of the problem and need to go.

As an example, the Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner sold Salisbury Police station to the Wiltshire Council and left the only city in Wiltshire without a police station and with no custody facilities. Police have to respond to incidents in the city from Amesbury police station (which is also closing within the next 5 years). All too often police officers are reluctant to deal with anti-social behaviour in Salisbury because to arrest someone means a drive of 25 miles to Melksham. This puts the detainee and the police officer at risk as often persons arrested are drunk, or on drugs and should they fall ill on the drive across Salisbury plain there may be no help coming for vital minutes. How would you feel if your relative died in the back of a police vehicle? or how would you feel if you were the driver of that police vehicle? The residents are seeing a rise in crime and anti-social behaviour and as a result of the lack of Police officers in Salisbury the Council have employed security guards who have no powers and can't arrest.

The Police Federation in Wiltshire[4]  have pointed out that with falling numbers of police (250 lost in Wiltshire alone since 2010 and 20,000 across the whole country), crime will inevitably rise. This is now the case with crime overall up by 10%, violent crime up by 18.5%, sexual offences up by 13.3%, robberies by 12% and antisocial behaviour by 11.5%. Only drug offences have been seen to have fallen, and this may well be down to the police being too busy elsewhere.

Crime Commissioners and Politicians are putting lives at risk by cutting funding, reducing front line officers and getting rid of 40% of police stations that will never be replaced. We need our police officers more now than ever before. Sadly these cuts are not just hitting Wiltshire they are country wide, so they will affect you wherever you live.  Please help stop the rot and sign this petition for an end to PCCs and a return to the Police Authority system.

Ken Forey                                                                                                        (Former Police Inspector Wiltshire Police) Email kenforey@gmail.com

Dr Brian Mathew                                                                                              Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for North Wiltshire. Wiltshire Councillor for Box and Colerne ward, and candidate for Wiltshire PCC in 2016 and current member of Wiltshire Police and Crime Panel                                                    Email: brianmathew@northwiltslibdems.org.uk

References:

[1] Page 25 https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/215074/2016-PCC-elections-report.pdf

[2] Jawad Iqbal, July 21 2017, The Times                                                             

[3] Peter Kirkham https://arrestingconversations.wordpress.com/2017/08/01/the-crisisinpolicing/

[4] http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/15442731.Wiltshire_Police_Federation_laments_strain_on_officers_and_calls_rise_in_crime__quot_alarming_quot_/?ref=fbshr



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