The election of Police and Crime Commissioners on November 15 will herald the greatest change in policing in this country for more than a century. A new beginning, but still with an old problem to tackle - money. Or rather, the lack of it thanks to government cuts.
The Police Authority and the Chief Constable have worked hard and successfully to ensure an efficient and effective service with an ever- decreasing budget. Our splendid officers and staff have risen to the challenge. But surely enough is enough? I don’t want communities to lose police stations and I don’t want us to lose any more police officers or support staff. On the contrary, I want to strengthen neighbourhood policing teams.
A commissioner backed by a public mandate has real power. I would want to use that power, on your behalf, to tackle the Government about its unfair treatment of Lincolnshire - particularly its decision to take away a special rural grant, which sliced £2million a year from the police budget - the cost of about 43 officers.
We could also ask district councils to reinstate the funding for PCSOs that they withdrew a few years ago.
More money is not the complete answer, of course. But it’s a good starting point.
What you need is a commissioner who is not afraid to fight for what you want. Someone who can forge a meaningful working relationship with the public , voluntary organisations, business, and the Chief Constable. Whatever happens in the elections, the chief has operational control and direction of all officers.
Ideally, the commissioner should have front line experience and a specialised knowledge of how the force operates in Lincolnshire. It would also be handy if that person was used to challenging senior politicians, from Prime Ministers down.
As a television journalist for most of my life, I’ve worked with officers in almost every imaginable situation, and asked awkward questions of politicians of every rank in every party.
For the past four years, I’ve had a privileged insight into the county’s force while working for the Police Authority. Which means I don’t have to swot up on how the police do their job or the particular problems posed by a large rural county. I can be an effective Police and Crime Commissioner from day one. Your voice, your direct line to decision making. No stifling bureaucracy to fudge the issue.
A commissioner can only be effective with public support, maintained through regular consultation. So I’m planning a communication strategy that will allow you, easily, to tell me what sort of policing you need. Together, we will make a positive difference in this wonderful county.
For more information, visit my website: alanhardwickpcc.co.uk