Royal Navy veteran: I’m ready to serve again

Torbay Weekly

Gareth Derrick: Labour Party candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner

Our police have been exemplary in striking the balance between education and enforcement of Covid regulations across Devon and Cornwall, but public regard for the Police and Crime Commissioner role is low.

Serious cutbacks to police resources have damaged policing and crime prevention while local police taxes have been pushed up with very little to show for it.

From 2015 to 2019, violent crime was soaring. No action was taken despite these crimes doubling to become the biggest category here, undermining the very fabric of our communities.

Stretched police resources have struggled to bring prosecutions forward resulting in many offenders being 'released under investigation' but going on to re-offend.

The chief constable himself bravely admitted that 'the thin blue line is broken'.

One of the potential benefits of having a Commissioner is the opportunity to develop innovative crime-prevention services but spending on this has been cut by 20 per cent and is now only £4m per year. This is paying lip-service to that opportunity.

We are repeatedly reminded of how officer numbers have been increased but the deliberate cutback of nearly 200 police community support officers rarely gets a mention.

Today, there are still 13 per cent less uniformed officers here than there were in 2010.

Policing and crime prevention has suffered but the Commissioner’s office costs have grown by 33 per cent, and are now over £2m per year, which is simply not right!

Local people have had their policing charges in Council Tax raised by an extraordinary 37 per cent over the past five years but less than half of this has gone to new policing and crime prevention services, the rest being used to meet ongoing costs normally the responsibility of government.

My offer to the electorate is as much about leadership as it is policing.

I will work in a starkly different way, aiming to build trust and confidence in this important democratically elected position.

My leadership with integrity will ensure that the public are made fully aware of what is going on and that the police are answerable to the communities they serve.

I will work with the chief constable representing your policing and crime prevention needs in a plan that sets the priorities for action, and I’ll hold him or her to account on your behalf.

Every decision I take will be based on my substantial leadership experience gained during 36 years of public service with the Royal Navy.

I won’t be drawn into party politics but I will get to grips with the challenges that are holding back improvements to policing and crime prevention and the demonstration of value for money.

I’m anticipating spending my first few weeks focused on the public-facing aspects of policing the G7 Conference, but beyond that my priority is first and foremost to ensure that additional uniformed police officers provide a much greater visible presence in your neighbourhood, serving you to cut crime and arrest offenders.

This will be vital to re-prioritise tackling the crimes that occur every day in our communities like theft, drug-dealing and anti-social behaviour.

Resources will also have to be focused on ending the tragedy of rising violence. Much of this is against women and girls and it must be stopped.

I pledge to deliver greater investment in crime prevention to create a safer place for your families and your businesses too.

Importantly, I’m committed to ensure that taxpayers get honesty and value for money in what they pay for community safety.

I’m ready to serve again. My service in our Armed Forces taught me to fight hard for what you value most, and today I’m fighting to keep people safe and cut crime.