Listening to groups over-represented among victims of certain crimes

Torbay Weekly

Stuart Jackson: Green Party candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner

Local policing really matters, in the light of all the events of the last year.

Four important issues are:

  1. The tragic murder of Lorraine Cox in Exeter, who was just walking home, in clothes she felt comfortable in
  2. the way our chief constable chose to interpret the regulations around Covid in the first lLockdown, in contrast to the gentler approach taken by most of the other 40 police forces
  3. the intention of our Conservative Home Secretary Priti Patel to restrict the right of people in Devon to protest peacefully, after Covid is over
  4. Black Lives Matter, in the way Devon's police have been interacting recently with people who may experience racism here in Devon.

What do these events mean for young people and others in Devon over the next four years?

School strikes and Extinction Rebellion protests, where younger people try to wake up middle-aged people - who are currently decision-makers - to the biggest issues facing us, may be severely restricted on the streets of Devon.

This may happen when the Tory Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill becomes law later this year.

If you vote Green for Police and Crime Commissioner, I pledge to co-operate with our chief constable and persuade him to continue with the same discretion that has enabled protests against this Bill in Plymouth this month to remain peaceful, while protests in Bristol turned violent.

This successful approach, where police officers use tact and sensitivity, must continue.

It will be difficult to achieve this after the new Bill is passed, as the force must uphold the new law, but as Commissioner, I would work tirelessly to ensure the police listens to all the people it serves.

One of my proposals is to improve accountability of our force by obliging the police to better listen to how we want to be policed.

I pledge to establish five monthly listening forums with people able to attend either in person or online. Each month, these five forums would meet in three towns - Plymouth, Exeter and Truro for:

  1. all women to attend
  2. any young people age 13-24
  3. anyone identifying as non-binary or LGBTIQA+
  4. anyone from groups which may experience racism here in Devon and Cornwall
  5. anyone else.

People in the first four groups are over-represented among victims of certain crimes.

Listening forums would allow people to raise concerns and/or questions with a senior police officer.

Conversations would be facilitated using the NHS model of Schwartz Rounds, enabling police to better understand issues affecting us all.

Secondly, I intend to help change the force to make it more inclusive and so it better represents the local population.

At the moment, only 21 per cent of sergeants are female. There are only half as many non-white sergeants as there should be, based on Devon and Cornwall's increasingly diverse population.

Even among the white officers, very few are Polish. A force can command greater respect from the public it serves if it looks like local people and if some officers speak the same languages as local people do.

I would publish annual data showing recruitment into officer and civilian posts, for the groups numbered 1-3 above; explain retention, promotion and recruitment data for under-represented groups; adopt best recruitment and retention strategies of other forces.

As PCC, I’d examine cases of proven harassment of officers or staff, where protected characteristics were a contributory factor.

Black Lives Matter. It's essential that Devon people of all skin colours can trust our police. I'd encourage the force to go much further in examining why young black men across Devon are 12 times more likely to be stopped and searched than young white men, and nine times more likely to have police officers use force against them (2019-20 figures).

Thirdly, I would listen to the young people of Devon who value our planet and want to stop species extinction and slow global warming.

I would work with the new staff member in the force appointed to improve sustainability, and would propose:

  • monitor how police estates are managed with wildlife in mind
  • increase solar and wind investment on police estates and buildings
  • insulate existing buildings more efficiently
  • halt further closures of smaller police stations and examine feasibility of re-opening closed stations, to reduce journey times and environmental impacts of local people accessing their police force
  • publish an annual report on the maintenance, purchasing choices and use of police vehicles
  • monitor the strategy of reducing unnecessary journeys, including increasing video-conferencing.

Finally, I am the only candidate seeking to control the growth in the cost of our police in our Council Tax.

The cost of policing has been increased for all Cornwall and Devon Council Tax payers by 37 per cent over the past five years, without a common perception that the force is visibly 37 per cent more effective.

I pledge that, in my second year in office, the increase in this police precept within Council Tax will simply match the NHS pay rise, which was only one per cent for healthcare heroes this year.

Greens believe local NHS staff cannot afford excessive hikes in the cost of policing. Therefore, I will work tirelessly to get central government to fund our local policing fairly, reflecting the major influx of tourists and their impact on public order and policing each year.