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Candidates to be next police and crime commissioner set out their priorities

Posted on - 21st April, 2024 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Crime, Fylde News, Lancashire Police, Politics, Preston News, Ribble Valley News, South Ribble News, Wyre News
The candidates to be Lancashire's next police and crime commissioner
The candidates to be Lancashire’s next police and crime commissioner

Lancashire residents will have the chance to vote for the county’s next police and crime commissioner (PCC) on 2 May, the same day as local elections are taking place in some areas.

Vying for the job are the current Conservative commissioner, Andrew Snowden; the Labour Party’s Clive Grunshaw, who held the post for the first nine years of its existence until 2021;  and Liberal Democrat Neil Darby, the deputy leader of his party’s group on Preston City Council.

With postal voting packs already beginning to land on doormats, the Local Democracy Reporting Service offered the candidates the opportunity to make their pitch directly to the people of Lancashire in a ‘mini-manifesto’.

Read more: Not being able to afford food main reason people receive help from Household Support Fund

This is what each of them had to say:

Neil Darby, Liberal Democrats

“As a councillor in Preston, I am very familiar with the need for our local police to work well within our communities to protect our neighbourhoods. We need first and foremost to restore proper community policing, to have police officers visible, trusted and approachable in our neighbourhoods. Meanwhile, we need the wider force to be focused on preventing and solving crimes.

“It is vital that we build a well-rounded approach for local policing to both care for victims and reduce repeat offences which currently takes up so much police time. By working with other local bodies such as social services, health workers and teachers, the police can work with the wider community to head off many crimes, such as anti-social behaviour, at the source.

“We can also reduce reoffending by working closely with the Prison Service to improve rehabilitation and strengthen supervision of offenders in the community. These approaches can prevent many issues from becoming greater problems over time, freeing police time in the long term and avoiding a constant battle just to keep up with crimes in our community.

Neil Darby
Neil Darby

“I will also press for Lancashire Police to work closely with mental health services. If police are trained to spot incidents where someone is suffering a mental health crisis, they should have a target of one hour to handover to mental health services who are best placed to help. This would help save lives as well as police time.

“Finally, as the police and crime commissioner, I would push for this position to be scrapped altogether and allow existing elected representatives of our communities to provide a much greater and locally-based oversight of our police forces, freeing up the resources of funding the office of police and crime commissioner to be used to fund frontline policing instead.”

Clive Grunshaw, Labour Party

“Under my watch as Lancashire PCC from 2012 to 2021, I had to deal with Conservative government cuts of over 25 percent to our budget. We lost over 800 police officers whilst Rishi Sunak proudly proclaimed how he’d changed Labour’s funding formulas to take money away from areas such as Lancashire and give it to places like Royal Tunbridge Wells.

“More recently, whilst police officer numbers are returning, we are not seeing more police, but fewer. Police officers are being placed in desk jobs, answering phones and doing paperwork, while the number of police staff is being cut.

“Lancashire Constabulary had a proud reputation and my management ensured that we were rated, by government inspectors, as outstanding for our use of resources – not any longer.

Clive Grunshaw
Clive Grunshaw

“Working with an incoming Labour government committed to neighbourhood policing and fair funding, I will put bobbies back on our streets, not sat behind desks. I will deliver on:

***domestic abuse – tackling violence against women and girls.

***visibility – rebuilding the connection between the public and the police, tackling anti-social behaviour and targeting drug gangs.

***prevention – working with partners to reduce youth offending and steer young people away from the criminal justice system.

***value for money – removing waste, improving productivity and using every penny effectively.

***improving our service to the public – from crime prevention to local policing, from call handling to response times, and from investigations to regular updates.

“Elect me as your PCC and I will restore leadership and competence. I will ensure you get the service that you want, to the standards that you expect… and more bobbies back on our streets.

“Together – Let’s Get Lancashire Policing Back.”

Andrew Snowden, Conservative Party

“For three years, I have been delivering a back-to-basics approach to policing. Recruiting over 600 more officers and getting them out on the beat, reopening police stations to the public and sending a clear message – the police are here to fight crime and protect people.

“From funding one of the largest rural policing teams in the country, the new Roads Policing Unit, the Anti-Social Behaviour Target Team, or the task forces busting up criminal gangs – the changes and investments I have made are working.

Andrew Snowden
Andrew Snowden

“Lancashire Constabulary have launched two operations with the extra resources I have made available to deliver the priorities I set of getting tough on anti-social behaviour and to relentlessly target criminal gangs:

*** since Operation Warrior was launched, over 1,400 gang suspects have been arrested, 286kg of class A&B drugs seized, and over £1m of criminals’ cash taken off them;

***since Operation Centurion was launched – over 14,000 extra hours of foot patrols have taken place in anti-social behaviour hotspots, with over 1,500 stop checks and searches taking place and over 140 repeat offenders arrested.

“But I know there is much more to do.

“That’s why I have committed £1m a year, for the next three years, to recruit even more officers to join the ranks of local neighbourhood teams across Lancashire. It’s why I’ve set out plans to expand the Roads Policing Unit to target ‘boy racers’, and to fund a further rollout of the anti-social behaviour foot patrols.

“But I can only deliver all this if re-elected in May. A vote for me is a vote to continue to focus on the basics, leading the fight against crime.”

What does the police and crime commissioner do?

police and crime commissioners (PCCs) are responsible for holding to account chief constables and the police forces they run.

They are elected by the public for what is usually a four-year period, although the 2016-2020 term was extended by a year – and the current one consequently reduced by 12 months – because of the postponement of elections in 2020 as a result of the first Covid lockdown.

The role was introduced back in 2012 and one individual oversees each of the police force areas across England and Wales. In some places, including Greater Manchester and London, the elected mayor has the powers of the PCC for their patch.

According to the Electoral Commission, the aim of a PCC is to represent the public in their local constabulary.

Among their main duties in each of the areas they cover, PCCs:

***set the police budget and make sure it is spent effectively;

***appoint – and can sack – the chief constable;

***engage with the public and victims of crime to help set police and crime plans and organise projects within the community;

***work closely with local councils and community organisations on those plans and projects.

The creation of the role introduced a more overtly political dimension into police oversight compared to the local police authorities they replaced.  Those bodies were made up of councillors who reflected the political make-up of the local authorities in a particular force area and they also contained independent members.

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