TOMORROW Lancashire will go to the polls to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner who will have a massive say in policing in the county. In the third and final part of our special feature, reporter Vanessa Cornall put five more key questions to the four candidates . . .
Why do you think we need a crime commissioner role? What makes you the right person for the role?
AFZAL ANWAR I have been working within the criminal justice system for the last ten years as a barrister. It is important whoever becomes our next Police and Crime Commissioner understands how the system works inside out. In my view policing is not only about more frontline officers. Instead it’s about working closely with other agancies with in the criminal justice system and that's what I have been doing for the last ten years as part of my job. I will provide a strong leadership and will work together with the Chief Constable to assist him in achieving the best results. I will not hesitate to be critical of the police force if it is not doing its job in accordance with the wishes of the people but at the same time work together with the police to make Lancashire a safe place for all its residents.
TIM ASHTON We need to make sure the money we pay in taxes for the police is spent on policing. At the moment, too much is spent on allowances and expenses for members of the Police Authority, most of whom the public wouldn’t know if they fell over them. A crime commissioner saves thousands of pounds on this and means more money can go into policing. As someone who works with people, regardless of their background or their politics, I will make sure that all of Lancashire is involved in the fight against crime.
ROBERT DROBNY The current Police Authority is an unelected board. At least the public will have a say on who they want to represent their views when it comes to policing. I have experience both on the shop floor and as a manager in the NHS and I'm old enough to understand the requirements of our more senior members of the county, yet young enough to recognise the opinions of the younger generation. I am also the only one of the four candidates that has been a serving police constable in Lancashire Police. I feel that this is crucial for the role.
CLIVE GRUNSHAW The Labour Party opposed PCCs, as we believed the cost of elections could be better spent on police officers – especially as the government have chosen to hold these elections, on their own, in the middle of November at an estimated cost of £100 million. Once the decision had been taken we have a duty to fight for the best interests of residents and make this position work. I am the best person for this role because I the only candidate with experience of being on the Police Authority. I have a good understanding of police issues and a good working relationship with the Chief Constable.
How do you plan to organise your office? (i.e. with a deputy, committee etc).
AFZAL ANWAR If elected I will appoint committee of advisers throughout Lancashire who will be volunteers and will be a link between my office and the public on a daily basis for issues regarding each area. You can appoint as many advisors as you want. I am not sure at this stage if I will be appointing a deputy.
TIM ASHTON Look, if anyone wants to see a load of councillors or appointees sitting in a cosy office in Preston, then I am not their candidate. I want to spend less than we spend on the Police Authority and do more to cut crime here in East Lancashire. Anyone who works for me will be working towards that aim.
ROBERT DROBNY There will have to be a police panel to ensure consistency and effective management. I will resist the opportunity of employing a deputy if possible. It doesn’t seem very democratic for me to employ somebody as my deputy without the people having a say. The whole idea of the elected commissioner taking on an unelected deputy is rather strange. This also leaves the door open for ‘jobs for the lads’. If I did need a deputy, it certainly wouldn’t be another political crony. The job would be advertised and not given by me personally.
CLIVE GRUNSHAW The PCC is replacing 17 members of the Police Authority and it will be too big a job for one person to do effectively. I will appoint a deputy, Ibrahim Master, a businessman from Blackburn, who has many years experience of working with the community and also on Lancashire Police Authority. His support will be invaluable in giving advice and helping me represent the public.
Will your political position affect the role? If so how, or if not why?
AFZAL ANWAR I do not hold any public office therefore I am less likely to be influenced by any political persuasion as far as the policing is concerned in Lancashire. I strongly believe that policing in our area must not be politicised and therefore I will resist any attempt of that happening. We need a police commissioner with a new perspective, not just another politician hogging a public office.
TIM ASHTON Elections are the means of choosing the best person for the job. If I win on Thursday, I will work with anyone who wants to help me cut crime. I don’t care if they are Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat or ‘non party’. The only people I won’t be paying any attention to are the criminals – we hear too much about their rights and I’ve had enough of it. If you’re up to no good in East Lancashire, you have a few days left. After that, if I win on Thursday, you’re on notice to quit the crime or get out of the county.
ROBERT DROBNY UKIP as a party are quite unique in as much as we don’t have a local party whip. That means that there is more freedom to act on the wishes and needs of the people rather than having to stick to a particular way of thinking. That’s real democracy on a local level. Each commissioner is duty bound to take an oath of impartiality.
CLIVE GRUNSHAW It may be a political position – representing the public's voice in policing – but this does not mean that a PCC could interfere with operational policing. Indeed, whoever is elected would be required to take an oath affirming the independence of the police and also abide by a policing protocol establishing the terms of working relationship between the Chief Constable and PCC. All warranted officers would be accountable to the Chief Constable not the PCC.
How will you address the need for transparency within the police force?
AFZAL ANWAR I will make sure that both the Lancashire police and the office of the Police Crime Commissioner is transparent in its all activities. The budget will be made public in its detail and before it is implemented I will hold town hall meeting for the public to have their say on it. All the expenses will be made public so that the people can have their say on it.
TIM ASHTON All my meetings will be published, as will my diary, so people know what I am doing and who I am seeing. Anyone who works for me will be listed on my website. There will be no more secret meetings. I will make sure the public can access information about crimes in their street online – at home or in a library – and I’ll publish quarterly details of how the police spend your money.
ROBERT DROBNY Transparency is an essential pre-requisite for any role in the public sector within Britain today. Regular reports and updates will be published on the internet and made available in paper format and placed in public places. This will show how the police are performing and how the police are funded. You pay for the police, so you have a right to see how your money is being spent. Part of my job will be to make sure that the public have confidence not only in the police but in the people that run the service.
CLIVE GRUNSHAW The PCC will be held to account for the budget, police and crime plan and other decisions, by the newly formed police and crime panel. This will meet in public. Moreover all decisions, that are not operationally sensitive, will be published on the website. It is, I believe, even more important to consult the public prior to decision making so that they can give their opinion and we will do this through meetings, website, and surveys.