Hustings Report - King's Lynn June 13th
I want to talk about respect and trust.
There are exceptions to every rule, but in our country people respect the law and trust the police. We allow ourselves to be policed because we know there has to be a framework of standards and ways of enforcing those standards so people can enjoy peace of mind as they go about their lives.
There is more to peace of mind than policing and I will return to that, but the consensus that means we are policed by consent is fundamental, precious and not to be treated lightly.
I am not arguing things are perfect or shouldn't change. Police authorities are past their sell by date. Policing is changing in response to new challenges - cyber crime was virtually unknown twenty years ago, social attitudes move on.
Breaking new ground means old certainties need to be revisited. New accountabilities to meet new circumstances, new structures to meet contemporary needs and new ways of working to make sure money is spent efficiently and effectively. many people continue to measure police success by bobbies on the beat. So the new consensus also includes the debate about priorities and costs - an age old debate in a new context. Changing something so valuable needs to be done with care. The police have to maintain public respect, the public need to trust the police and both need to trust the government who are making the rules. In the face of this need to change how has the government gone about it?
Police commissioners --- Winsor --- Cuts --- Privatisation --- HMIC
Police authorities may not be right but who said Police commissioners are the answer? The Winsor recommendations and HMIC appointment have put the police into open dispute with the government.
The public is looking on scratching their heads. Hold on - we're supposed to respect police and government but they're at each other.
Who should the police service be accountable to? Should they owe their first duty to the shareholders interested in making profits or the public they serve? Privatisation of our police services in any form is just plain wrong.
20% cuts in police funding at the same time as all this expensive upheaval will not just affect operational policing. What it will do to long term trust and respect - those building blocks of policing by consent?
And then there are the PCC's - a role nobody asked for, at a time we can least afford them, in the middle of cuts and upheaval and elections at the worst time of the year - and the government walking blindly into the politicisation of the police.
In Norfolk - amongst the safest places in the country but still with our share of problems - the PCC will face the challenges of maintaining the record on crime, tackling unreported and hidden crimes, sorting out priorities between urban and rural areas.
There are huge opportunities for closer working between agencies, councils, police and NHS to keep people from falling into crime and becoming victims. Support for victims needs improving - and I welcome the Victim Support recommendations on this issue.
The new PCC has to develop a relationship with the Chief Constable and a police service whose morale is damaged.
The PCC will have to deal with a public
---still surprised there is going to be such as thing as a PCC
---that has witnessed the disrespect for the police from the government, and
---has the sense that the consensus they thought they could rely on is teetering.
The public too will be grappling with other things that make up peace of mind - knowing how you're going to pay your bills - jobs, pensions, benefits, what happens when you are sick - the NHS, and support for people who can't manage alone.
I'm a Labour politician - but as your PCC my priority would be your peace of mind. The Norfolk PCC needs to be a champion for all - a tough call in a position nobody asked for in the first place. But peace of mind for all is too important an issue to walk away from.
The Labour candidate in Norfolk will be standing up for ordinary people across our county, making changes whilst maintaining the respect and trust of police and public and constructively engaging whilst opposing the damaging way government are going about destabilising the police service.
For myself, my track record in Norfolk and Norwich of challenge, change and maintaining a consensus that enables progress to be made is there for you to scrutinise.
Success will come from being able to say change has to happen and making changes, tough changes, without compromising the trust of those involved and showing respect for differing views.
I make two pledges.
My first pledge to Norfolk is throughout, my priority will be your peace of mind - wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, politics or persuasion.
I started by saying I wanted to talk about trust and respect. My second pledge is my policies as Norfolk PCC will be rooted in and sustained by trust and respect.
We may not want a PCC but if we have to have one lets make sure it is somebody who really is - for all of Norfolk.