Devon and Cornwall police have a special significance to me, as I spent a summer in their care before my final year at university, observing policing in Torquay and surrounds, as well as at the headquarters in Exeter. My memory is that the ACC listened very politely to me and my fellow undergraduate reporting as requested on how they could improve their quality of service, amazing given our lack of experience, and that they were even good enough to implement some of our recommendations.
A, cough, few years on, the PCC race in Devon and Cornwall is getting interesting, but not in the usual way. One would expect this race to be between Liberal Democrat and Conservatives, but it seriously looks like the Liberal Democrats may not be putting forward a candidate in what would be one of their best prospects, to the extent that one possible LibDem candidate, Devon County Councillor Brian Greenslade, is getting ready to stand as an Independent.
Meanwhile, in the Conservatives, only one clear candidate had emerged, former police officer Lance Kennedy, who had posited the idea of returning to separate forces in Devon and Cornwall. Vivian Pengelly had been mooted, but has been ‘no commenting’ since this was first mentioned, so the selection battle didn’t look too complicated.
That all changed today with the entry into the race of Paul Biddle, former prison governor, and currently an International Justice and Security Expert who has sorted out problems in Haiti and Iraq, like you do. You can find more details of Mr Biddle here and here (with a biography). The latter bio wrongly says he has an OBE. As Mr Biddle told TopOfTheCops, ‘I’m not that good.’ Well, the MBE that he actually does have isn’t all that bad either.
He says if he is nominated he would “welcome the opportunity to meet groups, members of the public, Police officers and representative associations and other interested parties to look at the issues facing the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly with regards to the maintenance and enhancement of law and order, victims issues and crime prevention.”
He says his experience has given him his own views but he wants to listen first to others before he formulates any formal strategy.
As with other areas, it only looks like we will hear more detailed plans from Conservative candidates when the selection process comes to an end.