Howard Jones is seeking the Conservative 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.
I was called to the Bar in 1992 and have practised as a criminal barrister since then. I have an intimate knowledge of the workings of the criminal justice system. I have also had extensive dealings with police officers.
I was drawn to putting myself forward for selection as the Conservative candidate by my own dealings with Surrey Police, as a witness to a serious assault. A blameless victim was subjected to a flurry of punches that knocked him unconscious, caused immediately apparent facial injuries and severe bleeding. Surrey Police used a scheme called Effective Resolution to put the case to bed quickly, quietly and cheaply.
It is a perfect example of “saving officer time” trumping the proper investigation and prosecution of a serious assault. I spoke to lots of Surrey Police officers trying to get the Police to change their decision. I then entered into often fruitless correspondence with senior officers and the Professional Standards Department (PSD).
Ultimately the victim in my case did not get justice or an apology. A senior officer did undertake to conduct a view of Effective Resolution in cases of violence with injury. Under the radar, this scheme has been used 10000 times in Surrey in the last six years.
A HMIP/HMIC Report in 2011 discovered that the use of Out of Court Disposals has gone up 135% nationally in the previous five years.
I do not have a problem with minor crime, particularly involving juveniles, being dealt with informally or administratively. The concern is that there will have been many other cases, similar to the one that I was involved in, where the officers failed to recognise and deal with a serious crime appropriately.
The experience of corresponding with Surrey Police has made me convinced that they are blocking attempts to make them accountable. The PSD were defensive and failed to deal with any of the points I had to make. Surrey Police are also over restrictively interpreting the Data Protection Act.
I want an effective first class Service. I want leadership to boost morale and give officers the confidence and resources to deal with serious crime. I also want an accountable Service. It is not now. I would review PSD and data protection.
I would commit to work with all the Senior Officers, to be accessible to all ranks and to the public.
Well this candidate, the first t my knowledge, has expressed concern over how the police deal with crime. Well done Howard Jones. If successful you will find a lot more within.
Yes, this one has a ring of authenticity about it rather the dull thud of party-political bumph dropping through your letterbox. Mr Jones is speaking from experience and his experience, like that of countless others, has not been good. I first became aware of an ideological problem in British policing in 2003. At that time I thought we were just facing a localised problem in North Wales which would go away once we got a new Chief Constable who was more interested in prosecuting real criminals than in legalising drugs.
By 2009 I realised the same issues were cropping up everywhere. What clinched it for me that year, like Mr Jones from an eye-witness perspective, was the failure of police officers to deal appropropriately with street-level anti-social behaviour. It was obvious from what I observed that officers are no longer making an operational distinction between the victim and the perpetrator – both were taking up valuable police time, both were therefore creating a public nuisance, and both were therefore told to move on. The victim received no apology, no restorative solution, nothing. Gosh this is beginning to sound like a candidate statement!
Where I diverge slightly with Mr Jones’ professional perspective is over the role of Effective Resolution in Surrey, which I assume has some restorative component. If restorative justice is done properly, then OK there will be less work for criminal barristers, but if the victim wants swift justice then I’m all for it in non-violent cases. If it’s not what the victim wants, as apparently in Mr Jones example, then clearly it can’t be called an effective resolution. What we need in North Wales now is more Youth Restorative Disposals at street-level or back at the station … (which they’ve just closed) …
But broadly speaking I think Mr Jones has exactly the right motivation to do the job. If his honesty doesn’t secure the Conservative nomination – which I fear will be the case, as he does not appear to possess the vital quality that marks out all successful party-political candidates, namely an annoying ‘tendency to toady’ to the local force – he should certainly stand as an Independent. Surrey needs one!
Making the police truly accountable will be a very popular platform to stand on – just bear in mind senior officers won’t like it. I suppose it kind of interferes with their operational independence to deliver a lousy service.
Independent Candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner in North Wales
I am standing as the UKIP candidate for the election of P&CC in Surrey. At a hustings meeting lastnight this very point was brought up. I do not believe that the effective resolution system being used in Surrey is appropriate: it is a quick cost saving exercise by Surrey Police. Initially a police caution, (starting about 1990), was for juveniles who had not “come to police attention” previously to be given 1 (one), chance and if they reoffended they were taken to court and the caution cited as a previous conviction.
I agree with this course of action, however it was never meant to be used for adults, nor for offenders committing serious offences such as “ASSAULT OCCASIONING GREVIOUS BODILY HARM”. This offence upon first conviction being penalise by a max of life imprisonment. I would welcome returning to the concept of the police caution, as first intended as I believe any juvenile should be given a chance: but only for very minor offences. If I am elected I would pledge to do everything possible to ensure this principle is adhered to. It is high time that offenders were dealt with more appropriately.
UKIP candidate for P&CC Surrey