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'Huge challenge' for police czar to tackle soaring crime

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 19, 2012

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Candidates vying to become Devon and Cornwall's new policing czar need to explain how they would tackle soaring crime levels, say ministers.

Damian Green, who holds the police brief in government, admitted there was a "challenge" in the force area, which bucked the national downward trend, and recorded by far the biggest hike in offending in England and Wales last year.

It was one of only three forces in the country to see an increase, the others being Essex and Northamptonshire with rises of 1%.

The Tory Minister also waded into the row over the controversial move to recruit a "spin doctor" earning up to £55,000 for Devon and Cornwall's new crime commissioner.

Mr Green said the decision by the appointed police authority underlined the need for the democratically-elected new office, which would be accountable to the public at the ballot box.

Nominations closed today for next month's poll to choose the force's police and crime commissioner (PCC).

It comes as latest figures showed overall crime recorded by Devon and Cornwall police soared by 7% in the year to June, while across England and Wales it fell by 6%.

Questioned over the figures, Mr Green told the Western Morning News: "Over most of the country it's falling, in Devon and Cornwall it's rising. That requires everyone concerned, not least the PCC candidates, to explain how they are going to ensure that crime starts falling in Devon and Cornwall, the way it is in the vast majority of the rest of the country."

He added: "Clearly there's a challenge in Devon and Cornwall which is a particular challenge for the various candidates for the PCC."

On the move to appoint a media manager for the incoming commissioner, with pay of £45,000-£55,000, the Minister said: "This illustrates very precisely why democratic election is better.

"That if somebody appoints expensive media officers or anyone else they will then have to justify that to an electorate in a way that police authorities have never had to.

"That's why democracy works. You have to go back in another election later and justify what you have done."

Mr Green also confirmed £3 million was being spent on an advertising campaign to raise the profile of the elections on November 15.

The Police and Crime Commissioner, who will be paid £85,000 a year in Devon and Cornwall, will have the power to hire and fire chief constables and will also set the force's budget and "strategic direction".

There has been fierce criticism of the way the election has been managed, with independent candidates saying it is weighted in favour of the big party candidates.

Mr Green said anyone was able to stand, with all candidates given equal billing on the dedicated website set up.

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  • cheekyman_jr  |  October 22 2012, 3:34PM

    ere, Jeremy Badger, I imagine we're going to see Kevin Heaney described as an Oligarch next...

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  • josdave  |  October 22 2012, 9:21AM

    This whole process is a waste of time and public money and will do nothig to improve policing. I consider myself an intelligent man but don't feel well enough informed on policing to make an informed vote. The turnout will be low and the result will mean nothing whoever gets the job.

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  • Phil_lip  |  October 22 2012, 7:59AM

    There is a blog by a copper that makes for an interesting read it is: http://tinyurl.com/yhrbww Yet if you keep reading down and see all the comments by the coppers that read it you will see the state of play and dissent in the top brass and government, removal of CID in most areas, turning a lot of coppers into one of 2 categories, neighbourhood liason officers and incident officers and much more but the blogger and the coppers making the comments are following their guidelines to not be specific. While all this is going on G4S have jobs listed on their recruitment page that replace scene of crime investigators, witness protection and much more showing how far along the privatisation of the police force has already gone, and yet there was no public announcement about companies bidding for these roles, no public consultation or even internal consultation in the police force.

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  • Bleach  |  October 22 2012, 5:38AM

    "This illustrates very precisely why democratic election is better." Why? I'm expected to vote for one of these candidates, none of whom I've met, read about or know anything about at all. How is that better than, well, anything?

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  • al111966  |  October 21 2012, 8:02PM

    Crime is clearly rising in Devon and Cornwall but it still remains very low in comparison to most parts of the country, what I find staggering is that when the question is put to the Chief Constable, not once has he mentioned that it is due to the cuts and lack of officers on the streets, it's nearly always blamed on changes in recording standards. Unless the 'top brass' start telling the truth and admitting D&C are struggling to remain effective the situation will only get worse. The problem D&C really have is that their force is merely a stepping stone for their top ranking officers to move into higher positions elsewhere and they therefore do not want to upset any Government ministers. When they finally get a Chief who is in the position with a long term plan and the force's interest at heart then maybe we may see a difference. (not holding my breath)

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  • dee_2  |  October 19 2012, 10:26PM

    It really does seem as if the ConDems have lost the plot totally. As stated in the previous postings, huge cuts in manning Devon & Cornwall police as crime is on the rise. It can only get worse with these cuts in the pipeline. On top of that we now have half a dozen or more officers popping out to Koz to look for a child that went missing twenty years ago. How much will that waste of time/energy cost? £100,000? More? Most normal people would say the money would have been better spent keeping staff employed in the UK. You couldn't make it up.

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  • JeremyBadger  |  October 19 2012, 9:09PM

    SidneyNuff, you said "from across tha nation" did you not mean "from across the Europe?"

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  • JeremyBadger  |  October 19 2012, 9:06PM

    A czar?when on earth did we require the Police and Crime Commissioner to be a Russian leader?

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  • grahamcoad  |  October 19 2012, 6:14PM

    How disingenuous can "the ministers" be? THEIR crippling funding cuts to Devon and Cornwall Police have meant the loss of hundreds of seving officers and scores of the so called 'back room workers' ...civilian staff whose essential work kept the system going...they have crippled the police then express surprise at rising crime! Just watch this space, this is just the start!

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  • pete13  |  October 19 2012, 1:45PM

    Any body know why Devon is becoming the crime 'capital' of the UK ?

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