Robert Evans is seeking the Labour nomination to be the Police and Crime Commissioner in Surrey. 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 at Editor@TopOfTheCops.com. 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.
As Labour Candidate for Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner, my main theme and core message will be that Government plans to privatise parts of the police service in Surrey are politically motivated and above all unsafe.
I’ve not met anyone in Surrey who thinks it a good idea to have elements of our police service run for profit by a private company. It shows the Government are out of touch with local people, whilst by contrast I will listen to their views and be their voice on policing priorities in the County. A recent survey by the trade union Unison revealed that almost two thirds of the public – 62% – oppose these privatisation plans.
Furthermore, I think privatisation will erode public trust and confidence in policing. Unison found that half the people would trust the police less if a private company ran their local services. If a Surrey resident dials 999, they want to know there’s a trained police officer at the other end – not someone in a private call centre that could be miles away – even in another country – and with a supervisor breathing down their neck more interested in what the call is costing than the seriousness of the incident.
A recent expose in the Guardian also raised serious questions about G4S – one of the companies chasing the £1.5 Billion private contract. I don’t want G4S or any other private company in charge of the transfer of prisoners across the County, dealing with 999 calls, forensic work or any part of our police strategy.
I think however that this issue is actually one above party politics. I have started an on-line petition ‘No to Private Police in Surrey’. This is not a partisan campaign so I will be calling on the candidates from the other parties to join it when they are selected. I hope residents will sign up regardless of their political affiliation using the petition link below:
By voting for me the people of Surrey will be saying no to privatising police in Surrey and an end to the programme of closing police station across the County. Voting for me as PCC for Surrey is a vote for common sense policing policies. A vote that will prioritise the traditional grassroots values of Surrey Police not the political right-wing dogma of this Coalition Government.
Robert, you suggest that “If a Surrey resident dials 999, they want to know there’s a trained police officer at the other end” even though that won’t be the case at the moment as control rooms are predominantly resourced by police staff with oversight provided by an Inspector. It sounds like your approach will see less police officers providing a visible presence to the people of Surrey and a redundancy programme being applied to staff in the control room operation.
If you want to discuss this further please drop me a line on Twitter. I will also monitor the comment’s on this site.
Thanks for this comment Richard and perhaps my point is not made clearly enough. I understand the position at the moment but my fear and that of many people is that if this service were privatised, the present situation would change. It would not be ‘police staff’ answering the phone but those of the private company, with no guarantee that an Inspector would provide oversight. There would probably be a delays in the process and any form of privatisation inevitably leads to staff cuts as the private company tries to maximise profits.
Surely your manifesto has to be based upon more than privatisation? Whilst it is obviously a point to consider it is so far down the list of things that you must be aware of when running a police service.
I am also a bit lost with your reply above. Aside from profit margins what, exactly, do you think is the difference between a member of police staff and someone working for a private company? There are no warranted powers involved in answering the telephones. On what evidence do you base your concern that the Inspector would not provide oversight? In reality the phones are answered in a call handling centre and the Inspector sits within a control room. Two entirely separate units (and often buildings). The information is passed through a computer system to the control room to individuals (mostly police staff) but the Inspector has specific incidents flagged up to them.
Again, I am neither advocating or condoning privatisation however there are currently many roles and departments that are entirely police staff run (as in not warranted officers). You current philosophy appears to be based upon “I’ve spoken to people and they don’t want it” – there must be more evidence and investigation to really make such a decision.
Take a custody suite, for example. By law you require a custody sergeant/officer to authorise detention etc and there must be an Inspector available to authorise other items but does the building need to be police owned? Do the detention officers need to be employed by police directly? Would the buying power be greater from a corporation than the police?
You say that you don’t want G4S transporting prisoners around the county. Private companies already do this and have done for years. If a person is charged and remanded they are taken to court by a private company. Likewise any future court visits whilst in custody or transfers between prisons.
If a private company is to take over forensics who do you think will take over the work? It will be the scenes of crime officers transferring from the jobs that they have just lost. There is already considerable financial consideration taken in to account when it comes to forensics.
You must, must, must have more substance to what you are offering to sensibly be considered for such an important role. At the moment you sound like someone who would like to do the role but really have little idea of what it entails.
‘David’, I of course fully realise what is entailed in the role of PCC which is why I put myself forward and have been selected as Labour’s candidate. Just because I don’t share your views or perhaps come from the same background doesn’t mean I’m wrong or ill-informed. One of the key responsibilities of a PCC is to ‘secure the maintenance of the police force’ and to ‘ensure its effienciency and effectiveness’ (sect 1.6.a and b of the Police Reform and Social Responsibiklity Act 2011). *
Along with 62% of people (the recent Unison Survey) I believe that the best way to ‘secure the maintence’ of an effective and efficient police force is to have it in public control not with sections run for profit by a private firm whether it is G4S or anyone else. You say ‘Aside from profit margins what, exactly, do you think is the difference between a member of police staff and someone working for a private company ?’ Clearly you have missed my whole point, deliberately or otherwise. These privatisation plans are driven by Government ideology and a desire to cut 20% in police budgets. No police privatisation scheme has ever been value for money – evidenced by the fact that no force has released the relevant performance data.
As PCC I would also be responsible for publishing information to allow the public to assess both my own performance as PCC but also that of the Chief Constable. If part of the services are being be run by someone else, with a different agenda – making a profit, rather than serving the people of Surrey – this becomes much more difficult.
The Police Minister said last week that no part of the police service is ‘off limits’ when it comes to privatisation. You cannot rule out therefore, private security firms patrolling some of our estates perhaps, nor that 999 calls could be answered in a call centre elsewhere in the country or even in another country. Alarming stuff to everyone with whom I have spoken. In fact, apart from the Conservative Government Minister, you are the first person to try to defend it!
Equally, just because private companies take prisoners around the County at the moment does not mean that I or the public support it, nor that it needs to continue.
As a prospective PCC answerable to local people, it is my role to be answerable to the views of local people. Surrey Police has never asked its people if they want this out sourcing. I am and its a resounding ‘no’.
Privatisation is far more than just ‘a point to consider’ as you put it and is anything but ‘far down the list of things’. It is top of my list and high on the agenda of everyone I’ve met in the County. As it appears you have been selective in your reading of the Act and what it says about PCC and their role, it is available here on the internet;
Best wishes and thanks
David’s point seems to me more about whether it was a good idea or not to have elected Police Commissioners (in my opinion, not a good idea). As David points out, there is much to running a police service. Appointing a Police Commissioner would ordinarily (and desirably) be a lengthy process and involve a multi-round selection involving scrutiny of any number of a candidate’s merits and traits.
But politicising the role by making it an elected position inevitably makes the debate much more narrow. The public (including me) aren’t going to read a lengthy CV or reams and reams of position statements by the candidates. They will take one or two broad themes maximum and take their decision based on those.
Take Howard Jones’s (Surrey Conservative Party hopeful) statement on this website for instance. Mr Jones uses his statement to talk about one issue only: Effective Resolution. To many people that would be, as David puts it, one consideration amongst many but this is what Mr Jones sees as the key issue and so it is fair enough for him to make a point of it. By the way, if David is reading this, I don’t understand why you haven’t criticised Mr Jones for only focusing on one issue.
So I think it is a disingenuous of David to criticise Mr Evans for highlighting (in his 400 word limit) what is likely to be the single most important issue in this election. I’m not at all political but the idea of private police scares me. Yes, I do actually find it scary, and I appreciate that Mr Evans is taking this very seriously indeed. So far in this race, Mr Evans is getting my vote for coming out so strongly agin the idea of police privatisation. We’ll see what the other candidates have to say.
I haven’t criticised Mr Jones for having a single issue because I haven’t actually read anything from him yet. I came across this when I was looking for something else and was worried (and still am) that, in addressing a single issue, it doesn’t give me much grounds to base a vote on. There still isn’t any actual substance in his defensive response. To quote Unison statistics feels a little misguided to me. Unison being the group that represent the people that would potentially lose their current jobs if privatisation came in, it seems about as impartial as a politician at a media mogul’s party.
Once again I must reiterate, I am neither for or against privatisation as I don’t have enough information to base my views on. People generally resist change so an unexplained “no” from 62% is unlikely to help me.
The police service has been under public control forever and a day, that was the point of police authorities. That someone comes in from an elected background does not make this any more so. In fact, I would suggest that coming from a political origin makes one far less independent and representative.
What I would like to see is both a broader range of ideas in your statement, what is your view on youth crime, for instance? Mr Wittingham mentions Effective Resolutions. What do you think about that? Do you favour more specialist units to get to grips with specific issues or are you more supportive of general omni-competent coppers? What do you think about the future for unwarranted staff like PCSOs? How will you monitor and address Surrey’s concerns?
No one is saying that you aren’t able to manage these issues, what I am saying is that I couldn’t possibly vote for you when I have no idea what you stand for aside from “privatisation is bad because Unison say so”. It may well be bad by WHY!?!?!??! Why are you so certain that privatisation is so high up the community’s agenda? Are you surevthat this isn’t because the media have brought it to the forefront? Going back to prisoner transport, why are you not happy for G4S/GeoAmey to transport prisoners? Presumably the alternative to this is going back to warranted officers being taken off the streets to do this? There must be a reason behind your concerns. Please share them so we know where you are coming from.
A few years ago a survey was carried out as to what the key concerns were for Surrey’s residents. They came back with speeding, drug dealing on street corners and nuisance kids. If you can find a cop who doesn’t know that when you stop someone for speeding they are almost invariably from the local area and want to know why they aren’t out catching murders and rapists then you have dug very deep in that barrel. Surrey doesn’t have drug dealing on street corners, that is what you see on TV. There is a much more complicated process than that. As for nuisance kids, welcome to the world of media driven stereotypes. Someone sees a group of young people standing together on a street and they immediately feel threatened. There is no supporting evidence for this. The young people are just hanging around together. Yet, to that person they are a perceived threat. The riots last year were a great example of such discrimination….look at all the teenagers/hoodies committing all that crime. 20% of the rioters were juveniles. Read that the other way around, 80% were adults. Now turn the original example on its head, the group of young people are replaced with adults, will our person still be threatened?
Please give me a reason to vote for you. I am more than happy to give it to you but I really want to know why I vote for you over anyone else.
With Mrs Owens having slowed down the previous Chief Constable’s plans around privatisation why is this the key area of your manifesto? What, in particular, will you be looking to hold Mrs Owens in to account for in regards to crime plans? Aside from privatisation, what are you most concerned about?
Please, please, please give me substance to base my vote on. I really don’t want to waste it.
Oh dear…it really saddens me when I read “my main theme and core message will be that Government plans to privatise…” because it is so negative. I completely agree with David about lacking substance – why didn’t you use your valuable 400 words to explain what positive things you WILL do for policing in Surrey and what experience you have that will convince us all that you are the right person for the job. Perhaps because you had no opposition?
Given Surrey has stepped back from privatisation I am assuming it would be appropriate for Mr Evans to be given the opportunity to re-write his candidate statement. Will this be the case?
Happy to have a version 2 at any time.
Delighted to reiterate my position on Privatising Surrey’s Police, in light of recent ‘developments’.
At their meeting last week, which I attended, Surrey Police Authority ‘stepped back’ from the current arrangement with West Midlands but the Chair Peter Williams said the plans were only delayed because ‘many candidates to become the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner oppose them!’ In fact up until this week, I have been the only selected candidate and yes, I have been vociferous in my opposition to privatising Surrey’s police force. So I take great credit for the current position.
Mr Williams, however, insists they will re-introduce the proposals next year: “We still think very much, that there is room for the private sector to help us.” he says arguing that letting private companies take on police servcies is not privatisation!
“In the end there will be private sector involvement.” he added. On what basis ? On whose authority ? He and I know, the people of Surrey don’t want this. Most of the Police Authority don’t seem very keen. The Police themselves and the Police Federation oppose. I will stand up to this Government and its obsession with G4S and the rest of the private sector. In short, Surrey Police services won’t be privatised if I am elected as Police and Crime Commissioner in November. If anyone else is elected, it looks likely they will be.
You can read Williams’ press statement here: http://bit.ly/LlfiKx
Boris Johnsone meanwhile talks of privatising the PCSOs and just about everything else in the Met whilst the Police Minister Nick Herbert said at a recent conference, ‘nothing was off limits’ when it came to privatising police services.
Not the response I imagine you wanted ‘David’ but that’s the reality of the situation and my clear, unambiguous statement. Really glad that you are taking Labour’s stance so seriously. Well done!
For the record, my name doesn’t need to be in quotes. It just comes across as patronising.
Pingback: Definitive List of PCC candidates 2012 | TopOfTheCops.com