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Five candidates reveal their police top priorities

October 22, 2012 1:29 PM

By John Harrison in Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Five of the candidates hoping to become Northamptonshire's first Police and Crime Commissioner have told the Chronicle & Echo what their top priorities for the job are.

The election, which will be held on November 15, could dictate the direction of the county's police force for the next four-and-a-half years, with the person chosen for the job taking on responsibility for hiring and firing senior officers, setting priorities and raising the council tax precept.

As part of the first in a series of features focussing on the elections, which are now just 28 days away, we asked each of the candidates what their most important priorities were. Five out of six candidates replied, the exception being Anthony Bennett-Spencer (English Democrats).

Lee Barron

Labour candidate Mr Barron said: "Priorities for me are to defend community policing, defend police numbers and defend PCSO numbers, to stand up for communities and to make sure they are at the heart of policing.

"These are the things people are most concerned about because to fight anti-social behaviour, to fight violent crime and robberies and burglaries and things like that, you need frontline police numbers.

"The other thing we will be doing on day one is is to sit down with the chief constable and writing a letter demanding £3.6 million from the Home Secretary.

"That money is given to other forces and that is not fair because that money is owed to the people of Northamptonshire.

"Where funding is reduced, we will need to look at how we reduce it without reducing frontline police. It is how we reduce it that matters and frontline police must be protected. We need someone who is going to fight for every single penny Northamptonshire is entitled to."

John Norrie

Independent candidate, former Police Authority member and police consultant Mr Norrie said: "For me it is fairly clear. It is a matter of doing what is going to be different to how it has been done until now.

"The first thing is contact with the public and setting up the mechanisms and connections for that to happen across the county. It is about having a real connection with people. I want to do that through surgeries and consultation events I want to run twice a year.

"It will be way over and above what the police authority has been able to do. The other opportunity is to join up the criminal justice system.

"One of the things I want to focus on is reoffending because it accounts for a huge percentage of crime and it is being done by people who are well known.

"The organisations are out there to do this but I don't think they are joined up.

"We will cut crime by cutting reoffending and then we will be able to release a lot of resources downstream such as the amount of money we are spending in court."

Adam Simmonds

Tory candidate Adam Simmonds said: "My priorities remain violent crime, anti-social behaviour and drugs. In relation to violent crime, last year it increased by 5.5 per cent, which put us on a par with London, Greater Manchester and Merseyside. My target for the criminal justice system, not just the police, is to reduce it by 40 per cent.

"I think with the combination of police, probation and the court services working together, it is achievable. It will require some funding, but it is do-able.

"In a way that leads into anti-social behaviour and especially some of those drunken people in our towns at night.

"I think people would say anti-social behaviour is on the decline, but I want it to remain a priority.

"As for the drugs, it is much more of a revolution required because I am concerned we don't look after people well. I want to have a better strategy for drug rehabilitation and I want to really go after the 'middle men'. We spend a lot of time targeting the money men and the people growing drugs in a house, but I want to target the middle men."

Jim MacArthur

UKIP candidate Jim MacArthur said: "I want to find enough finances to put enough police out on the streets.

"Everything else we could do depends on that really because if we haven't got enough police officers then everything else falls flat.

"I would want police officers preferably, although PCSOs have a role to play. They perform a good function, liaising with the public, and they do a good job.

"But at the end of the day, until we look at the books and see what we can save, you can't really promise what we can do.

"What you will have to do is sit down with the chief constable and work out how many officers we really need and decide how many offices the county needs.

"I will then try to finance as many of those as possible.

"I believe every officer who has operational contact with the public should be a police officer or a PCSO and I will oppose the outsourcing of policing to private companies.

"This will be a professional job. It cannot be done by amateurs, but I have got the experience to do it."

Paul Varnsverry 3Paul Varnsverry

The Liberal Democrat said: "I see the main priority as being the restoration of public confidence in the police by putting more officers on the beat, by putting the victim first and by using restorative justice to ensure those who commit crime and anti-social behaviour are made to face up to and account for the consequences of their actions.

"Policing and the criminal justice system are not simple structures and neither are the issues which face them, so the priority that feeds into every area is reconnecting the public and the police.

"We need an end to the situation where a lack of confidence in the police leads in turn to a reduction in people reporting crime and issues and that leads directly to problems going unchecked and then into the fear of crime in a 'lawless community'. This creates the self-fulfilling prophecy: 'I've suffered a crime, the police won't care'.

"So the police don't know about a crime. They don't attend as they don't know there is a problem. They don't commit extra resources to that community, as they are unaware they need to and so on."