The election next Thursday – 15th November – brings a big change to how Suffolk’s police service is run. I am asking for your support because I have the skills to make the new job of Police and Crime Commissioner work for all of our communities.
I have worked for organisations large and small, including Tesco, Harrods and Mothercare, and in the public sector too. I was Chief Executive of a charity working with vulnerable victims of crime. I have also worked within our prisons and with ex-offenders. Alone amongst the candidates I have worked at top management level for Suffolk Police.
I have a reputation as an achiever and independent thinker, working at a strategic level, managing large scale budgets, making far reaching and difficult decisions based on strong analysis of information. All are vital skills and capabilities essential to the role of Commissioner in today’s tough times.
As well as indispensible business skills, I have unique first hand experience of our Police service. I also have direct insight into the lives, impacts and journeys of victims and witnesses through our criminal justice system. I understand too the priceless contribution of the voluntary and community sector to the quality of our lives.
I am hugely supportive of the Police. They do an incredible job, sometimes under the most difficult of circumstances. I know this because I have worked with them and been out on patrol. Watching them deal with intense provocation with skill and humour cannot fail to command respect.
We all know the Police are affected by cuts to public services. Hard choices are being made; services reduced, merged, or, in some cases, abolished. Weighing those decisions, gauging their impact and tough questioning is a crucial part of the Commissioners job and so is ensuring the public have a full chance to ‘have their say’.
The Commissioner needs to lead a full and open debate on ranking priorities, how tight resources are best used and how we can jointly fight to win the best deal for Suffolk. Without a willingness to question, challenge and evaluate police effectiveness, the role will be a waste of money – an expensive rubber-stamp.
My vision is based on many months spent listening to local people in towns and villages right across the county and many years working within criminal justice. You have told me you want a safer county and a Police service that is open, accountable, forward looking and takes onboard the views of those it serves – you, the people of Suffolk.
· I will defend visible local policing in rural and urban areas. I support maintaining and, if possible, increasing front line operational policing roles including the Special Constabulary and PCSO’s.
· I will also defend less visible policing – especially those units that protect our young people and children from internet crime and sexual abuse.
· I want to put victims first – including swift and effective responses to anti-social behaviour. I also believe recent cuts to compensation for those whose lives are permanently damaged by violent crime are disgraceful.
· Restorative justice works but it needs developing to succeed more widely.
· In too many instances privatisation has failed - from the debacle of G4s at the Olympics to non-stop rises in fuel costs. That’s why I’m squarely opposed to handing police functions to private firms to run. Suffolk Constabulary is already taking back previously ‘outsourced’ work where expectations or promised savings have not been delivered. Improved efficiency and effectiveness is achievable, without outsourcing.
· I will work with any and all organisations, communities and individuals who are committed to cut crime, reduce reoffending and promote rehabilitation. Public services under pressure need to cooperate more than ever. The closure of acute hospital beds for those with severe mental illness for example can simply shift a health problem onto the police, courts and prisons.
Restoring a clear link between the public and their Police can bring real benefits. People have told me they want their Police service to be more accountable to them. Commissioners bring with them increased flexibility to manage policing activities in response to the needs and priorities of local communities.
The Commissioner job is an enormous challenge that will put whoever is elected on a steep learning curve. It’s a new and radical departure without a blueprint to follow. I am no stranger to the hard work or the learning needed to meet that challenge. I believe my background will serve me well. My solemn undertaking to the people of Suffolk is to give my total commitment to the role.