Brian Blake, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner in Devon and Cornwall, gives his pitch for the role ahead of next month’s election.
On November 15, the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will have a real chance of having a say in the manner policing is delivered to them. The election of a Police and Crime Commissioner is just that chance.
I served for 31 years in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in many areas before retiring as a Detective Chief Inspector. I served on CID, Special Branch and the Regional and National Crime Squads. I also spent six years as a uniform patrol sergeant, dealing with a whole range of problems concerning the general public.
And, after retiring from the police, I worked for 13 years with the Ministry of Defence mainly in Europe in a security/terrorism role.
I have seen the misery caused by burglaries, our children exposed to drugs and the effects on anti social behaviour on individuals and communities and dealt with those responsible.
I have done the job, and I am well placed to articulate public concerns over policing and cast an informed and experienced eye over policing in our two counties.
Much has been said of mixing police and politics. I pledge to keep politics out of policing. There is nothing political about being a victim of crime or exposed to those who seek to make others lives a misery.
Should you elect me, I will strive to ensure Devon and Cornwall is a very uncomfortable place to live for those burglars, drugs dealers and those responsible for anti-social behaviour. They will not be welcome on my patch.
Recent events in the news have highlighted how the vulnerable in our society, particularly children, need protecting. Much of this takes place behind closed doors. The support of many of the excellent voluntary organisations concerned with child abuse and domestic violence have a valuable role to play here, particularly supporting the victim and their families. I will work closely with the voluntary sector; their expertise is often overlooked.
The police budget like many others in public service is under pressure and that is not likely to change in the near future. I will fight the corner for a budget that meets the needs of policing for such a large and diverse area.
The Chief Constable will have to do more with less and I see the need to reduce demand on policing by programmes of crime prevention, strengthening the special constabulary and re-introducing visible patrols as a necessity.
Community policing was pioneered in this constabulary. Make no mistake it is not a licence as some would have for criminal and drug dealer to operate unhindered. It is to engage the police and the public in a common endeavour to reduce crime and bring offenders to justice.
As Robert Peel said at the beginning of modern policing: "the police are the public and the public are the police."
The post of Police and Crime Commissioner is more than holding the Chief Constable to account. It is also about raising awareness of the problems and solutions involved and giving a voice to the public and victims of crime. I will do just that if you elect me.
I don't have a magic wand and don't believe in making promises I can't keep. Crime and drug dealing are joined at the hip and I will strive to ensure Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will be a very uncomfortable place for those making others' lives a misery.
Many words have been and will be written about this election. I feel the most relevant are these: make Devon and Cornwall safe, secure and a welcoming environment.