Matt Bennett is seeking the Conservative nomination to be the Police and Crime Commissioner in the West Midlands. If you are intending to stand to be Police and Crime Commissioner where you live, you can submit your own Candidate Statement, so get in touch. Others are on the way, and we are looking for 400 words, a photo of you that you have rights to, and preferably an imprint, which will be needed for the formal election period later this year.
I am proud to be putting my name forward to be the Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner in the West Midlands. I have long been a supporter of the reform which introduced this position, as in my view there is an accountability gap between the Police and the public. If I am elected my overriding aim will be to ensure that the Police’s priorities are the same as those of the public. My track record as a former Birmingham City Councillor means that I am well placed to make a positive difference to policing in the West Midlands.
I have great experience of working with the police at neighbourhood level, as a Councillor in Stockland Green, a diverse and relatively deprived ward where the crime rate was going up for some time, bucking the local and national trend. Through close working with the Police and the local community I helped achieve a reduction in crime, by focusing on hotspots and cracking down on street drinking and low level ASB.
As Executive Member for Children’s Social Care I oversaw a major programme of change in children’s social services to turn around a service which had been failing for many years. As part of these changes I worked with the Police, where I encouraged closer working on child protection issues, establishing the first Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub in the city, where Police and social workers are based side by side.
All we really want from the police is to know that they are there when we need them and that they will deal with crime quickly and effectively, keeping us informed at all times. However, too many crimes go unreported because people don’t think it will achieve anything – that is not good enough. If elected I will:
- Send out a clear message that no crime, big or small, is acceptable and direct resources towards crime and ASB hotspots so that a zero tolerance approach can be taken
- Set out the areas where tough action would be expected and making officers accountable to me personally for taking that action
- Improving the police’s “customer care”. I want the public to have a clear idea of what to expect when they report a crime and of their rights as victims
- Work closely with ethnic minority communities to help them build bridges with the police – there currently exists a culture of mistrust and a reluctance to report crimes directly
- Hold regular meetings with the public where local issue can be discussed – at least one per constituency per year
- Ensure the Police make strong objections to new alcohol licences where there are clear links between number of licensed premises and increases in crime and street drinking