There seems to be a great deal of official effort put into raising awareness and interest in the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections which will be held in Wiltshire on 15 November 2012, and yet I've not been terribly sure who the candidates are, what the job entails, and what each of the candidates stands for. I understand there's a hustings to be held in Salisbury on Monday evening (OK if you have a car from Melksham, but impractical to get back afterwards if you rely on public transport) and there isn't (to my knowledge) going to be another one nearer. Each of the candidates has made an official statement - and you can follow links to each of them individually from http://www.choosemypcc.org.uk/candidates/area/wiltshire
For critical review
, I'm reproducing each of their statements here. In the interest of fairness, I've not added any comment within the text, and I have chosen to list them in reverse alphabetic order of surname. I then follow on with some of the questions I am asking myself in helping me decide for whom I should vote.
Colin Skelton (Independent)
I'm standing as an Independent Candidate, because I want to make Wiltshire the safest place to live in the country, with the lowest level of crime. This is achievable if Wiltshire Police follow evidence based policies and recruit more Police Officers.
I have four main commitments:
Recruit 300 new Police officers
I will recruit and train 300 new Police Officers.
Top 100 offenders targeted
I will aggressively target the 100 most prolific offenders within Wiltshire. Setting up five Enhanced Integrated Offender Management (IOM) teams across Wiltshire, each targeting the 20 most prolific offenders in their area.
Reduce crime by 20%
300 new Police Officers and the enhanced IOM programme will reduce crime. In addition I will enhance and better resource Neighbourhood Policing Teams and make better use of intelligence/technology to reduce crime. Police Analysts will be trained to the highest standards and make use of the world's best analytical and predictive crime software in order to reduce crime. The Los Angeles Police Force has used crime predictive software for reducing burglary and has shown a 27% reduction, we can do the same.
Look after Police Officers, PCSO's and Police staff
None of this is possible without well motivated staff. I would treat staff fairly, make their working lives better and give them a real voice in how the organisation is ran.
I have lived and worked in Wiltshire for 20 years, and have experience of helping others and contributing to the community. I [ac] Ä ve served as a Samaritan volunteer and Deputy Director of Salisbury Samaritans for ten years and been a school governor at several schools.
I hope people in Wiltshire would like to see this happen so that all our communities could be safer and better places to live.
Liam Bruce Silcocks (Independent)
Wiltshire Police is 170 years old and the oldest provincial Police service in the country. The first Chief Constable of Wiltshire spent his entire salary on travelling across Wiltshire meeting the public. I believe he captured the essence of what the PCC role is all about.
Facing a £15M reduction in its budget next year - there are some challenging times ahead and we all need to be real about the challenges and not make idle promises to rapidly increase visible Police - because there simply isn't the money anymore.
Over the next 4 years, I want to put more officers on the street but we can only do that by scrutinising what we currently have, diverting funds from non-essential areas back into real Policing. The more operational Police we have the more effective we can be in detecting, preventing and tackling crime.
We also need to look at some dark days within our Police Service, confront, deal with and repair any wrong doings. Hitting the reset button is the only way to have a fully respected and trusted police service that more of the public will help and support.
John Short (UK Independence Party)
John Short, 65, lives in Swindon and has been a Wiltshire resident for 28 years. I worked as a corporate director at Swindon Council for 25 years, and am qualified in all aspects of local government management. I successfully carried out the post of corporate director, director of commercial services and deputy chief executive of Swindon Borough Council having overall responsibility for a budget of £60-£70 million and a staff over 3000. These roles enabled me to manage the council in conjunction with elected members and local politicians. My experience is invaluable to the position that I seek, I have a proven track record of running a large budget successfully and delivering a value for money service. Also working in the private sector, with my background of public sector training, assists my suitability for this post, in a tough competitive environment.
My vision for policing in the County of Wiltshire, in conjunction with the Chief Constable and officers would be to make Wiltshire the safest county in the country, whilst protecting front line police services and staff and not agreeing to any budget cuts in this important area. I will look closely at the true value of PFI funding schemes. Obvious areas of savings have already been identified in the current budget such as procurement, service delivery, with the emphasis of value for money for the taxpayer. I can help maintain a top class police service in Wiltshire, whilst returning to a more local, identifiable and personal approach to policing. It is important that local police officers become well known and thus approachable as they are a fabric of our community.
I also wish for closer working relationships with the probation services, NHS and other emergency services.
Clare Moody (Labour Party Candidate)
I have spent my life standing up for other people, both in the community and in the workplace.
I have lived in Wiltshire for 15 years and have campaigned across Wiltshire and Swindon in that time.
I have worked in the heart of government, in Number 10, and have a track record of turning policy decisions into action.
These are the skills that you will need in an effective Commissioner working on your behalf.
From speaking to people across my home county of Wiltshire, my priorities are:
• Neighbourhood Policing Teams. These teams need to be protected from the government's 20% cuts to policing. They are vital in tackling anti-social behaviour, establishing relationships with communities and keeping policing visible.
• Victims. Victims need to be at the heart of the justice system and must be kept informed after a crime has been reported.
• Evidence based policing. I will use firm evidence to build an effective crime prevention strategy, to keep you safe.
• Protecting the vulnerable. Government cuts to the police and local government have led to deep concerns about increasing domestic violence and support for people who have suffered from this. Hate crime, particularly against people with learning disabilities, must also be tackled.
• Keeping the police public. I will stand up against privatising police services. It is vital that policing doesn't become measured in private profits and exempt from public scrutiny.
• Your voice in policing in Wiltshire. I will be out every week across Swindon and Wiltshire to meet with the public and community groups and be accountable to you.
The Commissioner [ac] Ä s job is to represent your priorities, not to be an alternative Chief Constable. I am the candidate that will stand up for you.
Angus Stuart Macpherson (The Conservative Party Candidate)
The position of Police and Crime Commissioner is a complex and vitally-important new role. It is essential to elect the right person.
ANGUS MACPHERSON IS THE RIGHT PERSON
Angus can 'hit the ground running'. As leading member of the Police Authority for 7 years his experience of the complexities of modern policing will guarantee continuity of governance of the force.
He has experience in researching and preparing a Crime and Policing Plan and in setting and monitoring priorities for policing and crime.
Angus has all the skills required of a Commissioner: a qualified accountant; detailed knowledge of policing and police finance; connections with drugs and alcohol services; wide experience of the criminal justice system.
Angus has a long record of public service. Serving as a borough councillor, a magistrate and as a trustee of several Wiltshire charities.
He is committed to localism - as demonstrated by his lead in the move to co-locate police and council services.
Maintain front line officer strength to combat ASB and local crime.
Strengthen neighbourhood teams to embed them in the communities they serve.
Put victims at the heart of the criminal justice process and improve services to both victims and witnesses.
Work with other agencies to protect the most vulnerable in our society
Regularly consult the public and ensure effective communication with the public which both the PCC and the police serve.
The job is about commissioning a wide range of services: crime prevention, victim support, protection of vulnerable people, offender interventions, drug and alcohol programmes.
Budget pressures mean police expenditure must become more focused and effective. This need not mean fewer police officers, but better use of resources, working in partnership with other forces, local authorities, charities or the private sector.
Paul Batchelor (Liberal Democrat)
Warminster Police Neighbourhood Tasking group chair Paul Batchelor has been chosen by Swindon and Wiltshire Liberal Democrats to be their Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for the upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner election on Thursday 15th November.
Paul Batchelor was selected after an overwhelming ballot of Liberal Democrat members supported him to be Wiltshire first Police and Crime Commissioner.
As chair of the Warminster Police Neighbourhood Tasking Group, Paul has overseen real results including a 41% reduction in case of anti-social behaviour. With his 17 years of local authority experience and 24 years of managing a successful business in his home town Paul has the experience and the skills to deliver for Wiltshire.
Tackling drug related crime by taking on the dealers and anti-social behaviour by increasing Police presence in our market towns and rural areas will be Paul's key priorities alongside prioritising victim support. Paul Batchelor is committed to being a Police and Crime Commissioner for all Wiltshire residents.
After his selection, Paul Batchelor said, "Wiltshire's first police commissioner should be out and meeting the public at every available opportunity and that [ac] Ä s what I will do. As Wiltshire Police and Crime commissioner I will regularly visit every town and village across Swindon and Wiltshire. An effective Police and Crime Commissioner is one who engages with the public as I have done as the chair of the Warminster Police Neighbourhood Tasking Group".
How does one choose?
I ask myself
• Wiltshire is already one of the safest counties in the UK, and all candidates wish that to remain the case. But which candidates are advocating the expenditure of significant extra resources on making it even safer - perhaps even beyond the law of diminishing returns. Do we want to be more heavily taxed (or to have other services cut) in order to finance a heavier policing footprint?
• There have been a number of high profile cases quite recently in which the performance of members of the Wiltshire police force have been brought into question. I'm thinking of a murder case that was in the press over the last couple of weeks, a death that resulted in a murder charge of which the accused was completely cleared on our own street, a person who was in the safekeeping of police in our town and came out injured, and a police chief who hanged himself. Which candidates have committed to reduce this seemingly high incidence of significant incidents that really should not happen?
• Which candidates say they're standing to support and look after the police establishment, and which say they're standing to look after the interests of the public? What about other groups? Vulnerable people? Victims of Crime? Those accused of crime? Those who need help so that they don't reoffend?
• Which candidates are politically motivated and indeed show that political motivation coming through in their statements? Indeed - should this be a political or independent role; if a politcal role, will the commissioner be just a puppet (and if so, of whom), but if an independent role then how much do we really know about the candidate we are electing?
• And ... should the post of Police and Crime Commissioner be subject to a public "beauty contest" election, when most of us really haven't a clue who to vote for?
Whoever is elected, I will be very interested to turn back to this page long after the election site itself has been deleted and see whether the elected Commissioner has fulfilled his / her promised direction
(written 2012-10-27, updated 2012-11-03)
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