I spent a thirty-year career as a policeman, working in the East End of London, in Scotland Yard and on some national police teams too. I have experienced some of the most extraordinarily brilliant police operations to keep people safe, but I have also seen some awful things, when preventing crime and disorder is not enough, and police have to investigate everything from isolated cases of public disorder and minor crime, up to thefts, frauds and cases of murder and mayhem. It is every person’s duty to recognise that citizenship brings responsibilities as well as rights to each and every one of us.
In the nineteenth century Sir Robert Peel invented a citizen police force that was a curious British solution to the problem of preventing crime and arresting offenders – our police officers were working with the consent of the local people, and after a difficult start, slowly gained their trust. Our policing model became the yardstick for policing by consent, and the envy of the world. Even today, in our era of criticism of public organisations, and with the impact of the recent financial crisis causing difficult problems for all public services, our police are still held in high regard and command some of the highest satisfaction rates in surveys; around 2/3 of the population think the police do an excellent or good job.
We are also blessed with significantly lower crime rates in Cambridgeshire than in other areas. In Peterborough, whilst top in the county for the most crimes per head of population each year, is still extraordinarily safe. However, crimes do occur at the rate of around 4 a day in each ward, and that is where we need to support our local police officers to detect the crimes, collect evidence and arrest the criminals responsible.
The system of holding the police to account for their ability to meet the needs of the local population sits with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire.
Sir Graham Bright was elected as the first Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and over the last four years has maintained police numbers whilst reducing the overall cost of the service. In May 2015 I was elected and one of my roles was to sit as the Conservative representative for Peterborough on the Police and Crime Panel. This body is made up of elected councillors across Cambridgeshire and also has two lay members. It has been led by Councillor Jason Ablewhite, leader of Huntingdonshire District Council.
In December Sir Graham announced that he would not be seeking re-election, and Jason was selected by members of all of Cambridgeshire’s constituent parties to stand as the Conservative Candidate. I stood as a candidate and made it to the final selection together with South Cambridgeshire Councillor Peter Topping. I am pleased to support Jason in his candidacy and wish him all the best in the election, which will take place on 5th May 2016 on the same day as all-out elections in Peterborough.
At the last meeting of the Police Crime Panel I was elected to the Vice Chairman position by members and I am looking forward to continuing in this role after the May elections. It is extremely important to develop the work of the Police Crime Panel so that it is an effective forum for examining the work of the Police Crime Commissioner on behalf of local residents.