DCSIMG

SOUTH Yorkshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner will be elected this week

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Crime reporter Claire Lewis profiles the candidates...

ROBERT TEAL (LIB DEMS):

- Barnsley businessman and magistrate.

- Father of five.

- Member of the council of the Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce.

THE force’s reputation has taken a battering in recent weeks. How will you improve its reputation and restore faith in police officers.

I will launch a transparent and independent review. Only if the inquiries already announced in Parliament are visibly seen to be successful will I put my own inquiries on hold.

My inquiry will examine how best to restore trust in South Yorkshire Police following the Hillsborough cover-up, the Orgreave allegations and the new allegations of South Yorkshire Police turning a blind eye to serious and large scale sexual exploitation of our children. These shadows must be lifted.

The police should have been held to account by the Labour-dominated Police Authority these last 20 years.

Any criminal act for which there is evidence – conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, perverting the course of justice or otherwise – must be pursued if there is a realistic prospect of conviction and a prosecution is in the public interest. Only a change at the very top will restore trust.

WHICH crimes do you believe to be the biggest issues for the force and how will you tackle them?

Before tackling crime comes reporting crime, and being believed when you do report crime matters. The police cannot tackle crimes that stay hidden and unreported by the victims because they may not believe their evidence will be accepted. That must change.

Serious crimes – drug dealing, gang crime, child abuse and every type of anti-social behaviour all fall into this definition. But the biggest issue for the force is ensuring crime of all types continues to drop and that people feel safer. What about justice for the victims? I want the support system for victims of crime expanded and made more effective. .

CAN you make a commitment to taking on extra police officers?

Yes, I want as many police on the beat as possible. But the truth is it’s a different problem – the problem will be making sure the police on the beat actually stay where they are and the Chief Constable and his colleagues have done well on this.

All the national calls on our police – about preventing terrorism, drug and people trafficking, organised crime and financial and cyber crime – are outside the control of the Commissioner and the Chief Constable and they cost cash.

Crime does not stop at the county boundary, so we need these national force co-operations and I welcome them. But they make the ‘wiggle room’ much smaller than I would like so we have to be better equipped, cleverer in our use of information and faster in our responses when people ask for help.

JONATHAN ARNOTT (UKIP):

- Set up a charity working with disadvantaged young people in Sheffield at risk of turning to crime.

- Chairman of a voluntary organisation in Sheffield working with young people.

- Qualified teacher, member of a senior management team at a Sheffield school.

THE force’s reputation has taken a battering in recent weeks. How will you improve its reputation and restore faith in police officers?

There must be proper investigation, and that must be funded nationally not by South Yorkshire Police given the recent cuts. Investigation will uncover the truth, which in turn will lead, if necessary, to prosecutions. Only then can we draw a line under these incidents and have the honesty needed to restore trust in the police. With the Rotherham child grooming scandal, rank and file officers have acted well but leadership from certain agencies has been lacking.

We need to remember the fantastic job done by today’s frontline officers, less than one in 15 officers from Hillsborough are still in the force.

Councillors can join police on patrol to see the job they’re doing – I’d like the general public to be able to apply to do the same. I want to get out there too, seeing every aspect of policing work to ensure my decisions improve things not make them worse.

WHICH crimes do you believe to be the biggest issues for the force and how will you tackle them?

Burglary and violent crime. Looking at the figures confirms what I hear from people on the doorstep – despite improved technology, recorded burglary is down less than any other recorded crime over the last four years in South Yorkshire. Violent crime must be a priority because it has such a profound effect on victims.

It won’t be my job to tackle them personally. The Police and Crime Commissioner isn’t a Gotham City crimefighter, but someone who sets policing priorities and checks the Chief Constable has operational plans to meet those objectives.

I’d like to see shock alarms for the houses of elderly and vulnerable people to protect against burglary, and I’d look at using grant schemes for projects along those lines.

I’m also very much aware of how shoplifting and metal crime are harming small businesses in South Yorkshire.

CAN you make a commitment to taking on extra police officers?

You don’t need to take on extra police officers to have more officers on the streets – you just need them to be spending more of their time on the streets and less time sitting in a police station.

Technology gives one way of achieving this – if an officer can use the internet to record incidents without returning to the station, less time is wasted and therefore there’ll be more officers on the streets. South Yorkshire Police is already trialling such technology. I’ll explore other ways of cutting paperwork and inefficiency to ensure that we make the best use of the officers that we have. I want to see our police officers on the streets fighting crime, not sitting behind a desk fighting paperwork.

DAVID ALLEN 
(ENGLISH DEMOCRATS):

- Married father-of-two.

- Trained foundry engineer, salesman and a sales manager for an industrial minerals company for most of his working life.

THE force’s reputation has taken a battering in recent weeks. How will you improve its reputation and restore faith in police officers.

A Hillsborough victim’s mother remarked recently that the Police Authority had failed to hold the police to account because ‘they marked their own homework’. Any body that is independently reviewed by itself and a largely unaccountable committee is apt to be generous. The election of a commissioner per se forces the police to at least look over their shoulder. In my case I would aim to get the Chief Constable and his staff to realise that without the faith of the public there will be no goodwill and the role of the police will change from operating with consent to by decree of the state, something to be avoided at all costs. Justice must be seen to be done to both criminals within and without the police. Even if there is a whiff of impropriety it should be quickly and openly dealt with to ensure that the public trust is maintained.

WHICH crimes do you believe to be the biggest issues for the force and how will you tackle them?

The crimes that are the biggest issues for the force are, or should be those that bother the people of South Yorkshire the most. The law belongs to the people and the police are citizens in uniform to assist them in the keeping the peace and protecting life and property. In particular the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable people, metal theft and cyber-crime. I would remind the police that they have an obligation to carry out their duty without fear or favour and that we as the public also have a duty to assist the police to uphold the law. The police can only operate with our consent, theoretically. What has happened is that the sectors of society that do not consent do not get effectively policed, particularly with crimes.

CAN you make a commitment to taking on extra police officers?

It is essential that community policing remains the cornerstone of English policing. The current Chief Constable has intimated the removal of them entirely to be replaced by un-warranted officers with no discretion. That is a disaster in my opinion. The constables should be drawn from the plethora of specialised units that have taken ‘bobbies from the beat’. It is my belief that many of these functions would be unnecessary if they were out preventing the problems before they needed specialist solution. I fear, though I am happy to be proved wrong, that many officers see the initial period during which they spend time out on traditional street duties as something to be endured before more satisfying employment can be found in the specialised units.

NIGEL BONSON 
(CONSERVATIVE):

- Former police officer with 30 years’ service, who has worked in central, regional and local government.

- Appointed by the Labour Government as an adviser working in under-performing areas. Has dealt with, studied and advised upon guns, gangs and drugs and led overseas study tours.

- Member of the Parole Board.

THE force’s reputation has taken a battering in recent weeks. How will you improve its reputation and restore faith in police officers.

Public satisfaction rates are encouragingly high despite recent revelations. Good quality day-to-day service of the type the public wants will go a long way too.

The Independent Police Complaints Inquiry into Hillsborough is under way and must be completed with those responsible for any wrongdoing brought to justice.

I wasn’t at Orgreave but I did grow up in a mining community in Atherton and I was proudly policing there at the time and understand the emotive nature of that conflict. If an inquiry into Orgreave is demanded by the public I will fight for funds to do so.

I genuinely want people to proudly refer to South Yorkshire Police as ‘our police’.

WHICH crimes do you believe to be the biggest issues for the force and how will you tackle them?

Violent crime, burglaries and anti-social behaviour are affecting many and demand response.

Drug and gang activity threatens significant problems in the future.

Child abuse will always be a priority and never neglected for lack of resources. The Rotherham grooming scandal affects not only those victims that were let down then, but any victims of today who have lost the trust to come forward. This is not just a police issue. It’s crucial that the right people are in the right places and that front line workers, of all agencies, are educated to spot the signs and take positive action.

CAN you make a commitment to taking on extra police officers?

The recruiting of additional police officers is not an option – indeed saving those that we have is the greater challenge. Making crazy promises about that to win votes is, frankly, immoral. Sadly, I can make no such commitment whilst under the current financial restraints. This makes it vital that officers are used in the way you would wish and the way criminals would despise. When there is an opportunity to fight for further investment, be certain that, I will of course be doing so.

The remit of the PCCs is police and crime. My experience is working with partners, pulling activities and resources together to tackle crime and its causes. The more partners do, the more the police can get back to prevention and detection.

SHAUN WRIGHT (LABOUR):

- Labour councillor.

- Magistrate.

- Deputy Chairman of South Yorkshire Police Authority.

Mr Wright failed to provide answers due to a communication breakdown, but said yesterday: “This is an opportunity to elect a public and community champion and I have 25 years of doing that working on behalf of South Yorkshire communities.

“That experience will be brought to bear if I am elected to do this role.

“I would make sure that the force is accountable to the public of South Yorkshire. South Yorkshire Police is a public service and should be accountable to the public. I would protect vulnerable people in society, safeguarding children, women and the elderly.

“I would protect neighbourhood policing as best as possible because it has delivered some fantastic results.

“I want to protect victim support services and ensure that the Chief Constable does everything possible to tackle serious and organised crime gangs – they are the root cause of an awful lot of crime that people suffer.

“I would also make the case to government that reducing the police service budget by 20 per cent is an irresponsible gamble with public safety.”

 

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