Meet with the four candidates for Police Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire
Tuesday 12th April 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
DOTTY MCLEOD: In a month’s time, or just under a month actually, you will have the chance to have your say on how Cambridgeshire should be policed. It is the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. Over the next few days you’re going to hear from each of Cambridgeshire’s four Police and Crime Commissioner candidates, talking about why they want the role and what their priorities for policing would be.
First up this morning is Jason Ablewhite for the Conservatives. He’s pledging to increase the number of officers on the beat, but won’t rule out back room job losses. I went to meet him on the campaign trail in Great Shelford, where not everyone was over the moon about the upcoming election.
SHOPPER ONE: Fed up with everything, voting.
JASON ABLEWHITE: Why are you fed up with voting? You know, because obviously that’s your democratic right.
SHOPPER ONE: Whoever gets in or anywhere, whatever, they don’t know how the other half live.
JASON ABLEWHITE: I’ve lived in Cambridgeshire all my life, so you know I know about local issues. I’ve lived here, worked here.
SHOPPER TWO: Have you worked on a farm.
JASON ABLEWHITE: I have.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So we’re at Scotsdales Garden Centre where you’re running a little promotional stall today, standing beneath a beautiful hanging basket as it goes. People coming to and fro with their trolleys full of growbags and bits of shed. Why go, why go for Police and Crime Commissioner?
JASON ABLEWHITE: I think in terms of my commitment to public service, I’ve got sixteen years under my belt already. I think I’ve got to a point with my leadership at Huntingdonshire District Council where I can leave a really good positive legacy in both the work that I’ve done and indeed the financial position that the Council is now in. And I’m ready for that next challenge. I’ve already been the Police and Crime Chairman for the panel, so it’s something that I thought, you know, this could be a really good opportunity for me to shine in a bigger arena.
SHOPPER THREE: Morning.
JASON ABLEWHITE: Yes. Pleased to meet you.
SHOPPER THREE: How are you?
JASON ABLEWHITE: Very well. Very well indeed. What are your issues when it comes to local policing generally?
SHOPPER THREE: I don’t have any, because we live in a very small village. We, you know, have had break ins, which are a worry.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So as you say you’ve already got some experience in the area of policing with the Police and Crime panel. What do you think are the weeds that need rooting out, when it comes to crime in Cambridgeshire?
JASON ABLEWHITE: The biggest gripe you hear time and time again is you don’t see a policeman very often. And I think that has to fundamentally change. I think we do have to go back to a form of community policing that doesn’t just mean a police car drives in and out the cul de sacs around the town, that they are actually getting involved in their community, they’re getting to know what the issues are.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So are you talking more front line police officers?
JASON ABLEWHITE: Indeed I am. Yes. That’s got to be one of my key priorities.
DOTTY MCLEOD: How are you going to pay for it though, because Sir Graham Bright actually managed to maintain front line officer numbers, but I don’t think it was easy.
JASON ABLEWHITE: It’s never easy. One of the things we’ve got to remember is the police budgets until the end of this Parliament, which will be the full term of this Commissioner, have been protected. So there’ll be no further cuts. Where we can now box clever is by driving out every single piece of waste.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So you don’t feel Sir Graham Bright did that.
JASON ABLEWHITE: I think he made a very good start.
DOTTY MCLEOD: What do you think about policing then in this part of the world.
SHOPPER FOUR: Countryside policing is very difficult, isn’t it? Very difficult. We had somebody beak into our garage the other week, but it’s no good reporting it, because nothing is ever done.
JASON ABLEWHITE: Is that how you feel? Because that’s a real shame.
SHOPPER FOUR: Yes.
JASON ABLEWHITE: That’s a real shame.
DOTTY MCLEOD: If you’re talking about more shared services, does that mean job losses? Because if we’re honest it normally does, doesn’t it?
JASON ABLEWHITE: You can never say what job losses are or what they’re not. But clearly one of the biggest central costs in back office are staff. There are more innovative ways that you can do things. There are more IT solutions on the market that you can use now. And there are some services on the back office that, you know, with collaboration and sharing you can drive huge amounts of costs at/out(?).
DOTTY MCLEOD: It sounds like you’re not ruling out job losses.
JASON ABLEWHITE: I don’t think you can on the back line. Where I would rule job losses out is on the front line, because that’s actually what people fundamentally feel the most important of all.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Has he convinced you?
SHOPPER ONE: Yes. (LAUGHS)
DOTTY MCLEOD: Are you going to vote?
SHOPPER ONE: I’ll think about it. (ALL LAUGH)
JASON ABLEWHITE: You can’t say fairer than that. Thank you.
DOTTY MCLEOD: That’s Jason Ablewhite and the shoppers at Scotsdales in Great Shelford.
Thursday 14th April 07:37
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
DOTTY MCLEOD: Let’s hear then from a man who is applying for a second time for a role he doesn’t really agree with in the first place. I’ve been out and about with another candidate looking to be picked as Cambridgeshire’s new Police and Crime Commissioner on 5th May. This time Rupert Moss-Eccardt, who’s standing for the Liberal Democrats. Like many in his party, he had his doubts about the PCC role, but he says now it exists, you’ve got to have the right person in the job. We went for a wander in Ely’s market place.
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: I’m Rupert Moss-Eccardt. I’m the LibDem candidate
PUBLIC ONE: Right.
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: In terms of policing crime where you live ..
PUBLIC ONE: We live in Isleham. Not Ely. Yeah.
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: Oh right. That’s fine. Well it’s the whole county is covered by the one person.
PUBLIC ONE: Right.
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: So in Isleham, do you feel that you’re cared for by the police, or what do you feel that you’re ignored, or a bit in between?
PUBLIC ONE: Cared for. Yes I feel we’re cared for.
DOTTY MCLEOD: We’re in Ely market place, a rather soggy Ely market place, with the cathedral just looming over the flat roof of the Wood Green Animal charity shop;. We’ve got the signs for the Ely Eel Festival going up as we speak, with two men going up and down on some kind of flat-bed hydraulic machine, so all going on here. Rupert Moss-Eccardt, why would you want to be the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire? Why do you feel it’s the job for you?
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: I have a great deal of experience, both in policing and in security. I’ve had a number of senior management positions, so I think I can bring energy, ideas and experience to the role, in a way that will make it more effective and more importantly make the police force here also more effective and accountable.
DOTTY MCLEOD: I mean really that’s why you’re the man for the job, but why do you want to do the job?
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: I’ve always done public service. My parents were both local government officers. I’ve done lots of stuff. I was a custody visitor. I’ve been on the ID(?) panel pool of people. I’ve worked in the public sector. So it’s an obvious step for me to continue doing what I do as a day job, but actually now doing it again for the public.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Do you remember the elections in 2012?
PUBLIC TWO: Just a bit. (SHE LAUGHS)
DOTTY MCLEOD: Do you remember voting.
PUBLIC TWO: Yes I did.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And who did you vote for? Do you mind if I ask? Which party?
PUBLIC TWO: Labour.
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: Do you feel that Labour can do the sort of law and order piece/peace(?) in the way you’d like them to?
PUBLIC TWO: I don’t know really? I think they’re all about the same. (SHE LAUGHS)
DOTTY MCLEOD: You mentioned that cyber-security and IT security is something that you’re quite au fait with. Would you see that as a priority for Cambridgeshire? Because actually I wonder how many people’s lives that touches every day.
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: Most of us will know somebody who’s had a credit card stolen or their identity stolen to use credit cards. And yes you get a crime number, yes you get the money back. But it’s still not great fun. That’s a low level piece of crime that lots of people suffer from, so dealing with that is quite important.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And what other kind of priorities would you be hoping to crack down on in Cambridgeshire?
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: I have a number of ideas which have been proven to work elsewhere, and indeed are working a bit in Cambridgeshire too, to reduce crime. Focus on re-offenders, make sure first time offenders don’t offend again, those things drive down crime, and those things will help us all,.
PUBLIC THREE: When I was a boy they walked down the road where you lived. And if you were misbehaving, you got a thump round the ear. Now they don’t do that, because you don’t see them waking anywhere, do you?
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: You know, clearly the way policing is being done has changed, and people do not have the reassurance that if they were to be able to reach out there’s instantly a policeman available.
PUBLIC FOUR: No there’s not. Definitely there’s not.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Now you’re the only one of this year’s crop of candidates who’s actually stood before in 2012. It didn’t go terribly well for you. You got 8% of the votes cast. What are you going to try and do differently this time around?
RUPERT MOSS-ECCARDT: Last time round the turnout was very low anyway, against a background of it was in November, it was a standalone election, not much publicity. There’s not much publicity this time, but in large parts of the county there are other local elections going on too. We anticipate that by having a blended campaign where we’re talking about local issues, about local councils, and also weaving in crime and policing issues, that we will get more votes, and we will do really rather well this time.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Rupert Moss-Eccardt there, who’s standing for the Liberal Democrats in the upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner election.
08:20 Tuesday 19th April 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
DOTTY MCLEOD: Anti-social behaviour actually is something that has come up when I’ve been doing these little walkabouts with your Police and Crime Commissioner candidates, who are hoping to get your vote on 5th May. The former Leader of Cambridgshire County Council Nick Clarke is one of them. He’s bidding for a return to public service as the County’s next PCC. He says he wants to make Cambridgeshire the most criminal-unfriendly place in the country, and he’s also promising his office will cost less than Sir Graham Bright’s. Huntingdon market place was where we met. The sun was out. Shoppers were feeling chatty. It is worth listening all the way through to this. There is a fantastic Scottish guy at the end.
MARKET TRADERS HEARD. DOG BARKING.
PUBLIC ONE: It’s very important to feel secure wherever you live. I think Cambridgeshire is quite safe. Huntingdon I think is more dangerous.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So what would you do Nick to make this lady feel safer in Huntingdon.
NICK CLARKE: Well I think we have to start thinking about the differences between crimes and harm.
NICK CLARKE: I’m Nick Clarke, and I’m standing as the Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for UKIP.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So Huntingdon, the market in full swing with all the fruit and veg. stalls, the flower stalls, the butcher who’s making one heck of a racket as he touts his wares. Nick, we’ve been talking to people about their concerns when it comes to policing. One of the things that keeps coming up is that you don’t see police on the streets any more. I’ve heard it elsewhere in Cambridgeshire as well in the last week. What would you do as Police and Crime Commissioner to address that?
NICK CLARKE: I think the first thing to do is to acknowledge that the people want to see policemen on their streets. And by acknowledging that, we should then insert that within the policing plan. We have to work with the resources that we’ve got. Now I’m committed to the fact that I believe policemen on our streets reduces crime, so I’d like to create zero-tolerance teams, small teams of police officers that will descend upon communities across the county on a random basis, to make their presence known, to soak up some of the low-level crime, the anti-social behaviour, the parking infringements, the speeding, to reassure people that the police are there, but also to disrupt the criminal behaviour.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Are you likely to vote?
PUBLIC ONE: Oh yes. people died so I could have the vote.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Are you concerned about policing? Is it something on your mind?
PUBLIC TWO: It’s always nice to see them on patrol. We have noticed a lessening of availability, with more people coming into the area, and housing and everything else becoming at a premium. There does seem to be a problem. Too many people and not enough police actually per capita.
NICK CLARKE: I absolutely agree. And I don’t think we’re suddenly going to unlock (FADES OUT)
DOTTY MCLEOD: Where do you see are the biggest challenges for policing in Cambridgeshire? Where are the hotspots?
NICK CLARKE: Well when we talk about hotspots we need to be careful what we mean. The largest amount of crime is in Peterborough, but rural crime is almost ignored at the moment. People don’t report rural crime. It’s under-reported, but there’s people having harm done to them there. So we need to be a lot more systematic in our thinking. So it’s not just about being reactive to crime that takes place, it’s also about trying to prevent crime happening in the first place. So as I say these zero-tolerance teams that I’d like to send around Cambridgeshire will give the reassurance to people, will help to provide the intelligence from local people who they will get to know, and to make sure we can crack down on the criminals.
PUBLIC THREE: I’ve heard of it. Yes. A waste of space as an election goes, as a job goes.
DOTTY MCLEOD: What do you think of that Nick.
NICK CLARKE: Well look, the Police and Crime Commissioner has replaced seventeen members of the Police Authority that were there before.
PUBLIC THREE: Well they were wasted space as well.
NICK CLARKE: And I was on that as an independent member. I think the whole process needs opening up to the public a lot more, and that’s one of my key ambitions.
PUBLIC THREE: You’ve spent a lot of money on that building in Cambourne innit. Waste of time. Police headquarters just up the road there.
NICK CLARKE: Well and if I’m elected the first thing that’s going to happen is the Chief Constable’s got to move along a little bit and let me back into Hinchingbrooke.
PUBLIC THREE: Even better and then get rid of all the extra staff.
NICK CLARKE: Well I think you should be standing rather than me sir. Fantastic.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So if you’re concerned about money, the spending of money in the Police Commissioner’s office, will you be taking the full salary?
NICK CLARKE: Oh I’m sure I will. The same as the rest of the Police and Crime Commissioners. That’s the rate for the job, and that’s what’s going for it. But what I won’t be doing will be paying the thirty odd thousand pounds for a Deputy. That’s a saving straight away for the people of Cambridgeshire.
DOTTY MCLEOD: That’s Nick Clarke there, who’s standing for UKIP to be Cambridgeshire’s next Police and Crime Commissioner.
07:41 Thursday 21st April 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
DOTTY MCLEOD: At the moment we have an almighty four-way battle rumbling across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. It is the contest to become Cambridgeshire’s next Police and Crime Commissioner. We’ve heard from three candidates already on this show. Now for the fourth, the Labour candidate Dave Baigent. One of his pledges is to sort out the police’s non-emergency 101 phone number. He says if it can’t be answered within three or four minutes, we’d be better off without it. I found him and his campaign sandwich board in Cambourne, where he was chatting to this lady from Papworth.
DAVE BAIGENT: You were just talking about having concerns about parking.
PUBLIC ONE: Mostly outside the hospital.
DAVE BAIGENT: Yes.
PUBLIC ONE: They park on the side of the road, it makes it a one way system all the while.
DAVE BAIGENT: Right. And how would you solve that?
PUBLIC ONE: Well they’ve got car parks …
DAVE BAIGENT: I was a firefighter for thirty years. I then became an academic. Did a PhD on public service culture. And now I’m currently a city councillor.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So we’ve been outside Cambourne’s Morrisons for the last half an hour or so, talking to a few people about policing in Cambridgeshire, any concerns that they might have. And talking to people is one of the things that you’re promising the most in your campaign. Tell me about that. Why is that important to you?
DAVE BAIGENT: Well I think it’s really important. The Commissioner’s job is to be the representative of the people. How can you represent people if you don’t .. unless you talk to them? So I’m going to go out into the communities, I’m really going to talk to people. I’m going to take senior police officers with me. The communities and the police officers under my chairmanship will come to the agreement about priorities. When they’ve set those priorities and agreed them, I will make them my priorities.
DOTTY MCLEOD: If you’re taking these senior officers out into the community all of the time, are they going to have the time to fight crime?
DAVE BAIGENT: Well I don’t think senior officers fight crime. Senior officers set strategy. What I’m trying to do is ensure that the police do what the public want them to do.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Do you feel that the relationship between the public and the police at the moment is not in good shape?
DAVE BAIGENT: I think that that’s partially true. I’m not denying that the police work enormously hard, but I know from talking to the public, and I know from my own research with police officers, that there is a gap between the police and the public. And that is where I want to go. I want to fill part of that gap.
DAVE BAIGENT: I’m Dave Baigent. I’m standing as Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
PUBLIC TWO: There’s one thing I want you to do.
DAVE BAIGENT: Go on then.
PUBLIC TWO: Delegate some power to the villages to control the local traffic.
DAVE BAIGENT: It’s strange you should say that. At the core of everything that I intend to do is local consultation.
PUBLIC TWO: You’ve done the consultation with me. Just give the power.
PUBLIC THREE: If he’s the Labour man I shall vote for him. Right? It’s all party politics.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Let’s talk about budgets, and the Government has said that the police budget for the next five years for the term of the Police and Crime Commissionership will be frozen. One of the things we keep hearing out and about is people’s desire to see more bobbies on the beat. How do you balance all of that?
DAVE BAIGENT: My argument about bobbies on the beat is really clear. I’ve heard that very strongly from people in Peterborough, Cambridge and Huntingdon in particular. Now I am pledging to put a constable on the beat in all three of those cities who’s sole job is to patrol the streets of those cities. And I’m hoping to fund that in part from savings from the Commissioner’s office, because I think we can make some savings there. And if there are going to be any savings, it ought to be not in front line policing, and they ought to take place through actually increased front line policing.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Do you have any concerns about policing?
PUBLIC FOUR: Not particularly. We’re quite central Cambridge. We haven’t really got any troubles.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So you feel quite safe?
PUBLIC FOUR: Yes.
DAVE BAIGENT: Do you often see a police officer?
PUBLIC FIVE: Not often. No.
DOTTY MCLEOD: One of the things that you’ve also said on your website is that you’re planning to sort out the 101 phone service. What do you mean by that?
DAVE BAIGENT: Well I think that if it can’t be answered within two or three minutes, it shouldn’t be there. And I have used it on several occasions. I could go down to Sainsburys on my bike and come back before it’s answered. It’s ridiculous. It puts the police into a bad name.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So what are you going to do about it to make it work? More call answerers? How are you going to pay for them?
DAVE BAIGENT: Well we’ll have to look at that when we get in. I’m not trying to dodge this question, but I’m not going to give you a slick answer. I need to look at it, see where it’s going wrong. If it can’t be solved it needs to be done away with.
DOTTY MCLEOD: That’s Dave Baigent there, the Labour candidate in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections on 5th May.