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Have your say in police election

Yvette Cooper, Labour's shadow home secretary, was on the campaign trail with Shaun Wright, Police and Crime Commissioner canidate, in Sheffield

Yvette Cooper, Labour's shadow home secretary, was on the campaign trail with Shaun Wright, Police and Crime Commissioner canidate, in Sheffield

  • by Claire Lewis
 

The Star’s crime reporter Claire Lewis asked the candidates a series of questions on behalf of readers. Due to a communication problem, Labour candidate Shaun Wright failed to provide answers.

VOTERS are being urged to go to the polls tomorrow to help shape the future of British policing.

With fears of a low turnout for tomorrow’s election to crown South Yorkshire’s first ever Police and Crime Commissioner, people are urged to make their votes count.

Some predictions put the number of people who will vote as low as 20 per cent.

Erika Redfearn, interim chief executive at South Yorkshire Police Authority, said: “This is the biggest change in policing accountability for more than 100 years, but it is also a very real opportunity to bring the public closer to policing and crime prevention in decision-making, because the Police and Crime Commissioner’s job will be to oversee the police and ensure they prioritise what matters most to citizens.

“The successful candidate will work with many local partners not only to fight crime but to help prevent it and, by consulting with victims, will help those affected to have a role in determining what the police should focus on and how.

“This is a massive change in policing and will affect everyone so it is vital the public are aware of the changes and have their say.”

Sheffield Council Chief Executive John Mothersole, who is the returning officer for the Sheffield part of the election, said: “I would encourage everyone to vote, to choose the person who will affect the quality of their everyday lives.

“It only takes a few minutes out of your day and your vote will influence decisions locally.”

Craig Paterson, a criminology lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “There is a lot of potential in terms of holding the local police to account, but it does not yet seem clear how the new system will function.

“It may well be although it is a good idea in principle what happens in reality could be a bit of a disappointment.

“The system may not differ too much to what we have now, but in four years’ time with more understanding of the role there may be a big queue of people fighting for it.

“I don’t think there has been enough of an explanation as to what the role is really about – that is why there are suggestions of a low turnout.”

ROBERT TEAL (LIB DEM)

The police budget is reducing and money needs to be saved. How will you do this without affecting the capability of the force?

The 2013/2014 budget has to be agreed with the districts on a ridiculously short timetable. It would be pragmatic to agree the major elements of the draft budget already proposed by the outgoing Police Authority because I will not have enough time to collect evidence about what to change.

It will provide a year of relative stability in which the new arrangements can shake down, and everybody can get used to new ways of working, new relationships and new issues.

This year the Labour candidate agreed to wasteful projects like spending £100,000 on improving security at police stations, £70,000 to review a communications strategy and £50,000 changing door entry systems. I want to ensure funds are directed towards frontline services, so we can have fewer officers sitting behind desks and more police on the beat.

What makes you different from the other candidates?

I am not and never will be part of the local political establishment that has let down the people of South Yorkshire. They failed to hold their police force to proper account these last 20 years and more, and I am not one of them.

My feet are firmly on the ground. I know about the importance of local policing because of my background as a retailer and small businessman.

The Hillsborough, Orgreave and Rotherham scandals have shown we need to act to help restore trust in South Yorkshire Police.

I will speak truth to power here in South Yorkshire, in Government and to any special interest groups that want to talk with me.

No favours have been done for me nor have I anything to cover up. I can look the powerful in the face knowing I can do and say what is right and needed.

JONATHAN ARNOTT (UKIP)

The police budget is reducing and money needs to be saved. How will you do this without affecting the capability of the force?

£14 million a year is too much to do justice to in the space available, but essentially it’s about increasing efficiency of staffing, saving money on procurement, slimming down the overtime bill, sharing specialist resources with neighbouring forces, and prudent use of reserves. If I didn’t understand figures I wouldn’t have got a Masters degree in Maths when I was 19, and I’ve a proven track record of making big savings for a range of organisations.

Make no mistake about it – if you choose a candidate who lacks financial acumen, you will end up with frontline officers being cut.

What makes you different from the other candidates?

With the force facing £43.3m of budget cuts – with £14m still to find – the Commissioner must understand finances and make the best use of limited resources. I hold a Masters degree in Maths from Sheffield University and have plenty of budgeting experience. I oppose privatisation of the police and police services. My website www.vote-jonathan.co.uk has my personal manifesto which sets out in detail what I’d do if elected. No other candidate has even produced a personal manifesto – they are asking you to write a blank cheque. If you vote for me, you know exactly what you’ll get. I believe in openness, honesty and transparency. I’ll be a ‘critical friend’ of the police. I’ll be the candidate who spends time with police on patrol, knowing what it’s like on the front lines in the real world, not sitting behind a desk every day.

DAVID ALLEN 
(ENGLISH DEMOCRATS)

The police budget is reducing and money needs to be saved. How will you do this without affecting the capability of the force?

Saving money without taking capability from the force is not easy to answer properly without knowing exactly where the budget is spent in detail. As the force is a state monopoly it is possible some of its spending and organisation might reflect that in a pejorative sense. I think there must be scope to reduce cost and maintain operational efficiency by applying management techniques from the private sector while maintaining control within the public. I don’t know how much is spent on consulting and outsourcing but would be keen to reduce that and maximise regionalisation of costs with other forces as much as possible without detrimentally affecting the identity and integrity essential to policing a unique area and its needs.

What makes you different from the other candidates?

As an English Democrat I do not subscribe to the political fashion and liberal orthodoxy. As such I can see political correctness has contributed to the failure of the police to uphold the law and enforce it across the entire community. I am prepared to ask difficult questions that have become taboo, to protect the most vulnerable in society and the reputation of the police themselves. I am experienced enough in life and business to discern good from bad, mostly, and have the courage of my convictions. I believe that votes for me will bring an independent counterpoint to the established view of the force and a sympathetic but considered interpretation of the desires of the public in policing and crime and its wider effects.

NIGEL BONSON 
(CONSERVATIVE)

The police budget is reducing and money needs to be saved. How will you do this without affecting the capability of the force?

Money doesn’t need to be saved – it needs to be spent in a way that achieves maximum efficiency. About 90 per cent of the budget is of course used to pay for police and support staff. Having taken the cost of vehicles etc from the remainder we are not talking about huge amounts, and every drop of crime reduction and public reassurance must be squeezed from it. This means doing what works, not what sounds attractive. As PCC I would also work with others to find ways of their resources being bent moulded to contribute. It is all the more vital we focus on what matters – albeit sometimes at the cost of what matters less. Tough decisions are needed and I will make them. The toughest are not about what the police should do, they are about what they should not do.

What makes you different from the other candidates?

I’m the only candidate that has the necessary understanding and experience. I’ve been frustrated to hear promises from others, which sound attractive but aren’t deliverable and range from foolish to dangerous. For instance, while we all aspire to increasing uniform patrols, I would not propose to do so without first consulting the public and being clear about where officers were to be taken from. We cannot leave specialist areas vulnerable. Another concern is this – whose ideas are these? Have candidates fully consulted or are they, before having been elected, pursuing their own ill-considered whims? Your PCC must understand the police, not just be another police officer. I offer something extra and would influence all those with a role to play in our safety and justice. I am also trustworthy. There is nothing in my past record or career history which would cause anyone to question my integrity or competence.

SHADOW Home Secretary Yvette Cooper joined Labour’s PCC candidate Shaun Wright on the campaign trail in Sheffield.

The politician met locals to hear their concerns on crime days before South Yorkshire voters go to the polls to pick their first police commissioner.

A pensioners’ group, a tenants’ and residents’ association, and a youth group told of their fears and concerns over crime, and what they’ll expect from their PCC.

The Q&A session took place at Park Library Centre, Duke Street, near Sheffield city centre. Yvette Cooper said afterwards: “Shaun’s the only candidate saying he’ll stand up for South Yorkshire people against the scale of government policing cuts.

“Shaun has said the first thing he’ll do if elected is bang on the Home Secretary’s door and demand she rethink next year’s budget cuts.

“Shaun’s got a lot of experience and knows the pressures communities in South Yorkshire face. He’s so determined to listen to local people and support neighbourhood police.”

 

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