Good evening to you all.
I’m looking forward to listening to your views and ideas on policing in Wisbech and Cambridgeshire more widely. I’m sure we will have lots to discuss tonight.
But first let me share a little bit about myself.
I started my working life as a police cadet in Hampshire before serving in the RAF for 22 years.
I have been the quality and IT director for an International computer chip company, a director of a number of companies including a couple of IT companies I have grown and sold.
When I sat on the Cambridgeshire Police Authority, as an independent member, I was the lead for force performance and deputy chair of two committees.
More recently I was the Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council responsible for around 8000 employees. I led on the £1b budget setting process against a 35% reduction in funding.
As Leader I was accused of trying to run the council like a business. I am proud of that, meeting the customer’s needs, trying to keep the cost down and always seeking to improve services. Not much wrong with that in my eyes.
But lets turn to policing.
Firstly and most importantly, I will ensure the interests of law abiding citizens and victims always take precedence over those of the criminals.
Those that break the rules must be punished, not wrapped in cotton wool. Those that seek to disrupt our way of life or ruin our peace must be taught there are consequences.
It is clear to me that for a confident and civilized society to function it must have an effective police force to provide the necessary stability.
Crime in Wisbech is too high. Is this good enough? No it isn’t. When people are asked if they feel safe they tell us they don’t. 90% of women asked said they feel unsafe going out at night in Wisbech and they say the lack of police presence is a contributory factor. This is not good enough.
In January there were 380 reported crimes in Wisbech of which 61 were classified as violent or sexual offences. People have a right to be scared. This is not good enough.
Some said that they were scared to walk through the parks because of drug users. Why has the drug dealing problem in Wilberforce Road not been addressed? It is not good enough.
In this country we police with the consent of the people and that means involving them. The Conservative PCC has a poor record of public engagement and appears to reject democratic accountability, both of which I see as essential for the role.
We must listen to our communities. We are here today to listen to you.
I believe the right people in the right places can make a real difference to the lives of people.
I have had the nick name of NO Nonesense Nick and been described as steel wrapped in velvet. I think both attributes are necessary when dealing with the police who expect and deserve clear and determined leadership as they serve us all in doing a difficult job.
I am impatient of unnecessary bureaucracy and expect public services to run efficiently and in the interests of the people they serve. This is often not the case.
I was astonished to find that the current Conservative Commissioner has grown his own staff from eight from when it was the old Police Authority to 17 now and has raised staffing costs from £347k in 2012 to £628k today.
That money would be better spent paying for more police officers or improving the 101 telephone service that is frankly just not good enough.
I will look at reducing the Chief Execs salary, as I did at the county council or seeking other ways to reduce commissioners staff costs.
The current commissioner appointed a deputy. A completely unnecessary waste of tax payers money. Money that should be used on frontline services not empire building.
It is time that the police stopped turning a blind eye to low level crime. Anti social behavior is corrosive and creates an atmosphere that encourages more serious crimes to be committed. Of the 380 crimes 135 were classified as anti social behavior. How many cases of anti social behavior are not reported?
I will press for a Zero tolerance of criminal behavior to drive those that seek to make our lives a misery from our streets. If you want to be antisocial, there will be consequences.
All our communities tell me that speeding is a growing problem. This is anti social behaviour and must be made a priority.
Rural crime is under reported because nobody believes anything will happen if it is reported. This is not good enough.
We hear about police stations closing to save money. We must be much more imaginative. When the police station closed in Ramsey why did they not share the fire station? It makes sense to me.
When you speak to the police they will tell you that at the bottom of a significant amount of theft and criminal activity is a drug habit.
Illegal drug supply must be tackled with the full force of the law. It is essential that drug supplies are disrupted.
I would like to see a “door a day” policy where 365 days a year drug dealers have their lives severely disrupted, in the same way as victims have had their lives disrupted. I want drug dealers to know they will have a very difficult life if they deal in our county.
Those who commit domestic violence need to know they will be caught. Violence in the home where individuals should feel safe is unacceptable.
I want Cambridgeshire to be the most criminal unfriendly county in the country.
I will challenge political correctness. It is important to give the police confidence that if they act in the best interests of the public I will support them, even if things go wrong. I do not want to hear that a child has drowned and a police officer has not helped because he was worried about health and safety rules.
I will seek more discretion for police officers and less paperwork so they can get on with their job of protecting us all.
There needs to be more public engagement and transparency. I will seek to:
Set up public consultations to help set policing priorities involving elected councilors.
I welcome filming of police public meetings and will create the default position of holding meetings in public wherever possible and make it easier for the public to ask questions.
I will make official papers available to the public by default with only those that are sensitive restricted.
I want to see greater stop and search transparency. I will create public panels to scrutinise the stop and search paperwork and video footage from officers. The public must have confidence that the stop and search procedure is fair and proportionate.
I will create a culture that ensures the police work for the people, not the Government or ACPO.
I will engage at the national level to lobby for more prisons, more rehabilitation and meaningful penalties.
The £2bn cost of new prisons is small compared to the £34bn cost of crime.
So to finish, I believe I have the necessary credibility, experience and energy to be an effective Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire. It will be up to the public in May. I ask you all to help.
I now want to hear your views on policing and crime.