Police and Crime Commissioner – Conservative Promises Don’t Add Up
The debate over whether the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner has been politicised will go on up to and after the election on the 15th November, but the simple fact is that the decision taken by the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition Government to go ahead with the abolition of independent police authorities in favour of elected Police and Crime Commissioner was clearly politically motivated.
The question the people of Northamptonshire have to consider is who to trust with the future of policing in the County over the next five years and more importantly how the Chief Constable and police are going to be supported on the streets.
People in Northampton, Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and all of the other towns will have to ask themselves what will be the impact of not voting in the PCC election and whether the lack of Conservative information is because they have arrogantly assumed that across Northamptonshire the people in the villages and rural areas will vote Conservative and it will be enough to see them across the finishing line.
It is an assumption and arrogance that is seen all too often from the Conservatives on the County and Borough Council who it appears hope that people across the Northamptonshire will have forgotten that they cut funding for the police in this year’s budget at a time when crime has increased and were responsible for switching off half of the Counties streetlights making our neighbourhoods unsafe without any consultation at a massive cost to the taxpayer.
What is astonishing is that the Conservative PCC candidate who worked closely with the Northamptonshire County Council Conservatives to implement the cuts to police funding is now portraying himself as the man who would increase funding and staffing levels and even more amazingly making a pledge to have a ‘Special Constable’ in every village and parish.
The ‘Special Constable’ pledge is even more cynical for a number of reasons, firstly because the training for the newly recruited ‘Specials’ of £5,000+ is to be paid for by increasing the parish council precept without asking residents and tax payers if they agree, a stealth if not sneaky tax to say the least. Secondly there is no guarantee that people will come forward to volunteer as ‘Special Constables’ when in fact the number of volunteers has fallen dramatically over the past 10 years, and thirdly even if the number of volunteers did come forward the deployment of the ‘Specials’ is an operational decision under the control of the Chief Constable and not the PCC so there would be no commitment or guarantee that they would even though paid for by the parish taxpayers be deployed in the parishes.
In fact wouldn’t it from an operational perspective be more likely that the ’New Specials’ would be deployed in the non-parishes areas such as the Town Centres at weekends of where crime is on the increase, unless of course the Conservatives are planning to interfere with the operational decisions?
Just imagine the outcry in parishes across Northamptonshire who may see the police they are paying for employed in the urban centres.
The Conservative PCC policies are no more and no less than trying to plug the police funding they cut through other tax raising methods which will create a two tier service between those who can afford to pay and those that can’t.
In contrast Lee Barron, the Labour PCC candidate is promising openness in how the police will be funded and has pledged to protect front line policing across the whole of Northamptonshire not create a two tier system between the urban and rural areas.
Lee is also pledging to oppose the outsourcing and removal of policing from communities believing that like the National Health Service the Police should remain as an essential front line public service organisation serving the whole of the public.
The facts are that public safety in Northamptonshire has been compromised and threatened by the Conservative and Liberal Democrats cuts and is far too important to everyone to allow them to continue to destroy.
It is why it’s important that the people of Northampton and Northamptonshire vote in the election and why the predictions from the Electoral Commission that there may be a turnout of less than 15% is so worrying.
I of course will be urging people to vote for Lee Barron to be the PCC for Northamptonshire to protect communities and prevent crime, but there is no doubt that whoever is elected as the first Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner if it is on an electoral turnout of 15% democracy will be the loser.