Friday, 16 October 2015

My Candidacy for Police and Crime Commissioner Essex


I am announcing my Candidacy for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex. I have been an Independent Councillor for 13 years and getting my individual voice heard amidst the weight of traditional party politics has been a particular triumph. I was the first Independent candidate elected at Southend in generations and founded the Independent Group that now leads Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, where I am the Portfolio Holder for Public Protection.

Having been born, lived and worked most of my life in Essex, coupled with my current career in local industry, I know the whole County of Essex well. I understand the make-up of the county in all its individual and unique communities, so I will not have a parochial mind set. I am a strategic thinker and I have the determination to fight for what is right for all our towns and villages across Essex.

My campaign is fully endorsed by Mick Thwaites, a former Divisional Commander, Head of Mobile Support-Police Operations and Temporary Assistant Chief Constable for Essex Police, who will provide inside knowledge gained from his 34 years of experience.
I also have the support of other former Essex Police Officers who are horrified by the erosion of their beloved Police Service, one of whom is acknowledged as a leading authority in regard to anti-social behaviour and was formerly a senior Police policy advisor across central Government.

(Mick Thwaites endorsement attached at end of this release.)

Local issues are usually very different to national issues and they therefore demand a different and more bespoke approach to resolve them. I believe national issues are rightly the responsibility of national Government, but the responsibility for local issues should be fully devolved to locally accountable people and bodies that better understand the local need. I am standing as an Independent candidate, unfettered by any party political influences. I feel very strongly that our Police Service should always be independent of any party political interference of any kind, and I will be the representative of the very people whom, without their consent, the police can’t operate. That means Essex Police should be delivering policing that represents the views and wishes of the people of Essex.

I do not like the way traditional party politics works and influences local and regional affairs either and that is why I fought to be elected as an Independent Councillor in the first place. I am committed to this way of thinking and I am ready for the challenge. I have the strength and experience as an independent community leader to fight, on behalf of everyone in Essex, for our Essex Police Service and to keep Essex safe.

The people of Essex need a strong Independent Police and Crime Commissioner who can honestly represent their needs and lead Essex in its fight to keep our communities safe and maintain community safety at the highest level without the influence of party politics. I have proved I can properly represent the views of my community and be a strong leader in tackling local issues. I will approach this job with the same total conviction that is my trademark, without fear of anybody who opposes the needs of the people of Essex. I am passionate about this issue and about our County and the gloves are off; I will fight to protect and rebuild the Essex Police Service that the people of Essex need to keep our communities safe.

The latest set of disastrous proposals are being masked as modernisation but, in reality, we are about to see the further loss of 250 more Police Community Safety Officers and a further 60 support staff, on top of the previous 600 lost in recent years. This erosion must be reversed. The current staffing levels are unsustainable already, with recent announcements about withdrawing local beat officers and retail crime teams, giving up on anti-social behaviour and downplaying burglary, not to mention the constant complaints as police officers struggle to achieve response times. Fundamentally our Police, who do the best possible job under constant pressure, are being dismantled and cannot be in two places at once. It is as simple as that.

I am particularly disappointed about the erosion of Essex Police over the first four years that the role of Police and Crime Commissioner has been in place. It is my view that we have been let down very badly by the current regime, which has been controlled by party politics and its inability to oppose this, to stand up for you and I and everyone else in Essex. I am not weak and I am not constrained by being a compliant member of any political party, in Government or otherwise, and I am not an ally and friend of Teresa May, the Home Secretary. I will not be prevented from upsetting the applecart about Police funding cuts in Essex and I will not be prevented from having the real debate about policing in Essex. In fact I will lead that debate and, with the support of the people of Essex, will change the direction of policing here to deliver the service that we all want and need.

Indeed, I am calling for a moratorium on the current proposals for further cuts to policing as the People of Essex have not had the chance, or opportunity, to consider how safe they want their communities to be. Instead we have had a fait accompli delivered by weak compliance with national Government will. If I am elected there will be a proper debate and a set of robust proposals developed to reverse this decline. We have reached a fork in the road and Essex needs to decide for itself before it is too late. The people of Essex can and will determine how safe they want their streets to be, and be informed about the services required to achieve this, so that they can make an informed choice about funding and what they think would be a justifiable level of funding from the precept. This is a campaign promise that I will fulfil if I am elected.

As an Independent Councillor I understand what people expect at a local level and that what happens in their community is of primary importance; is the rubbish collected?, is it tidy?, is it safe? This is in my basic DNA; this is why I have always fought for and promoted local issues and delivered local solutions.

The primary questions people always have are concerned with community safety; is it safe outside their front door, in their local streets, in the local town centre, or on the way home from school. I now believe there is a real threat to safety and it increases with every cut to our Police Service. I don’t mind admitting I am old school on this. I believe in ‘bobbies on the beat’ and I know I am not alone in this belief. The people of Essex need to see Police Officers on our streets, talking to the public, gathering intelligence, learning their areas, protecting people and property and dealing with the trouble makers and criminals. This is how crime is prevented in the first place, resolved if it happens and, most importantly, community safety is preserved.

One of the key initiatives I have led at Southend is the decision to keep our street lights on, despite considerable political opposition. The rest of Essex has been left in the dark, with the compliant support of the current Police and Crime Commissioner and his political clique, who think disabling the Police and not lighting the streets are a good idea for Essex; well “I don’t.” I will be pushing Essex County Council to reconsider their priorities on street lights. We have kept them on in Southend by being smart with an “invest to save scheme”, and I want both the lights and the Officers back on our streets across the whole of Essex; we need Essex to be safe.

Mick Thwaites Endorsement;

I spent 34 years of my working life as a police officer, in various ranks and roles across Essex. I believe because of extreme cuts in Police officers, PCSO’s and police staff; we are moving away from what the public want from their Police Force. 
The people of Essex deserve a voice in the way they want to be policed. The person that represents their voice should be "truly independent of all politics" and therefore cannot "be influenced by owing allegiance to any party". Martin Terry is such a person and I fully endorse him as a candidate for PCC elections 2016.

It can be easily forgotten that Policing belongs to the people and should work to deliver safer communities. We do not want a PCC who simply thinks like central Government, or operates to any political party agenda!

Mick Thwaites