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Adrian Sanders: New commissioner should know the police inside out

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 23, 2012

Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner candidates. From left, William Morris, Graham Calderwood, Ivan Jordan, Nicky Williams, Tony Hogg, Brian Blake and John Smith

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On November 15, the residents of Devon and Cornwall will have the chance to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner, writes Torbay MP Adrian SandersThis is a new innovation; a post that will oversee the work of the local police and help decide what the local priorities should be. The idea is that the police force will become more receptive to the needs of local people and more democratically accountable for how they approach tackling crime and how they spend public money.

The Chief Constable and his senior officers will still have full control over the day-to-day running of the police so it is clear that the commissioner will not be able to abuse their position for narrow political interest. Indeed, they will have to swear an oath of impartiality once they take office, ensuring that they take account of the views of all parts of the community they represent. It's slightly curious that the Government has chosen to allow political parties to compete in these elections but nonetheless, this should not deter people from using this opportunity to have a greater say and more importantly a more local say over how public services are delivered.

Part of the experiment for the Police Commissioners is to see if we get a good field of candidates who have the experience and expertise to take on the role. The Commissioner will have to tackle a wide range of issues and perform a number of different functions, but above all an in-depth knowledge of how the police force currently works will be essential.

Interestingly, as I talk to people about this election they all agree that the most important factor that will determine their vote isn't independence or party loyalty but who is the best qualified for the job.

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Above all the biggest challenge will be managing intense media scrutiny and the many, often conflicting, demands of the public. The reality is that we will never have unlimited funds for the police force and people will always be disappointed that the focus is not on the issue that immediately affects them, whether it is speeding motorists, anti social behaviour or wildlife crime. The commissioner will have to balance all of these needs and there will be immense pressure for the police budget to be stretched ever further.

Devon and Cornwall's make up – large rural areas with some highly urban areas with inner city challenges such as Torbay and Plymouth – provide unique difficulties. The idea of looking strategically at how to tackle these challenges does, however, provide some opportunities for injecting radical solutions into how we approach policing and more widely how we can prevent crime occurring in the first place. Some issues that could well do with a fresh look include the role drugs play, the need to improve working between different agencies such as councils and the NHS on preventing crime, how the police support victims of crime and importantly how to maintain morale of staff in the face of funding cuts.

I think in Devon and Cornwall at least we've had a good spread of candidates come forward who are all aware of these issues but so far only one, Brian Blake, has any experience of frontline policing.

The cuts the police are facing will make this an even more challenging time so it is ever more crucial that the new commissioner is someone who knows the police inside out and has the experience to grapple with the range of problems they will face.

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  • robocop1982  |  October 24 2012, 7:39PM

    NOw the uk is without police this country will tear itself apart. ALot of people don't realize the police cuts means that many areas are not even policed. THis means the courts will be powerless . . WIth the uk military tied up in afghan also this could look real bad. I think it will end up a big civil war thought without weapons but some kind of population control problem. I'm currently planning an emergency escape route. I keep an inflatable boat for emergencies just in case a mass riot breaks out involving millions. POlice have said if another episode of the london riots/wars what ever you like to call it breaks out they will be powerless to do anything. THe reason we did not see army in riot control gear in london is because they didn't have any people to help out as they are understaffed. OUr government is dangerously low in numbers. Police have said they can no longer protect the public. Ask any cop and they will tell you that home defence and an escape route would be a smart plan at the moment. An inflatable boat will get you away from any trouble that occurs on land. I'm deadly serious. We are no longer protected as such.

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  • robocop1982  |  October 24 2012, 7:19PM

    The government are down on numbers. THe rebels now outnumber them. I new it would end up like this unfortunately. THey are becoming powerless puppies. I will be honest this actually scares me knowing that we are heading towards anarchy. Sooner or later a big war is going to occur and it is one that will not be fought with weapons. Every year the population increases and the government are increasingly being outnumbered. ITs a very serious situation. There is talk on the inside the police are simply thinking of calling it quits as the situation has reached breaking point. Police are planning on walking out. Heavens above if anybody new the uk is now not policed all hell could break lose.

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  • reptor2456  |  October 24 2012, 6:34PM

    Sanders? Oh that's that guy who when he opens his mouth in Parliament, no one listens... Yeah a real joker.

  • Sinjis_Things  |  October 24 2012, 6:26PM

    The photo looks like a pensioners outing.

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  • Auntymable  |  October 24 2012, 3:26PM

    Which one is the wine maker.....?

  • Auntymable  |  October 24 2012, 3:17PM

    Which one is the wine maker..........??

  • smallboy2010  |  October 24 2012, 1:17PM

    Who are you ??? i have a ballot reminder on my table telling me when and where i can vote for you so im guessing its important ? Important enough that i know something about you , what you hope to acheive, your track record, qualifications ?? 3 of you look like used car salesmen, one of you looks like you have been subject to Police ttention in the past, one of you looks like your wearing training shoes with a mix and match suit, one of you makes wine for a living ( fact) and the other looks like you drink it all !!!!!!!!! You could be toal randomes of the street and are expecting me to vote.... My opinion - the turn out will be around 5 percent - well worth the effort

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  • Cruey  |  October 23 2012, 11:56PM


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  • SidneyNuff  |  October 23 2012, 10:12AM

    Tell the new commissioner, whoever he is, to wake the Police up in Torquay, take their doughnts off them and get them out of their nice warm Police Station to try and catch the low life who have been setting fire to cars and property in the central Torquay ghetto for the last six months.

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  • JonnyGlenholt  |  October 23 2012, 9:18AM

    The Commissioner should be someone who knows about preventing crime by working with others - voluntary organisations like Victim Support and Pubwatch schemes, local councils and their safeguarding children panels, who has a track record of working collaboratively to solve problems, not assume that the Police can do everything. Above all it should be someone who listens, and is our voive when it comes to cutting crime, not just talking tough.

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