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.