'I strongly support the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners' - Neil Carmichael
ONE of the early major debates I contributed to in Parliament was over the legislation to introduce the new Police and Crime Commissioners for each of the constabularies.
I strongly supported the proposals because I have always been doubtful of the capacity of the outgoing Police Authorities to challenge chief constables where necessary or to formulate modern approaches to policing policy.
This new approach to police strategy and accountability will help to assure residents of the police service's ability to respond effectively to the priorities of local communities.
While it is good that crime levels are falling, there are still concerns about anti-social behaviour recently I was told of some problems in Berkeley and, in the past, I have received similar complaints about behaviour in other localities - so I look forward to working with the newly elected Commissioner after November 15.
None of this means that we are not proud of our police officers.
Their contribution to our safety is greatly appreciated and their presence is both reassuring and emblematic of our belief in the rule of law.
Recently I spoke with Victoria Atkins, a candidate for the position of commissioner, about her approach to policing and experience in dealing with criminal behaviour in her capacity as a leading barrister.
I also have a good dialogue with the new Chief Constable, Mick Matthews, and many of his officers, so I am confident that the new arrangements will settle down well.
I have sought confirmation from the Home Office through a Parliamentary Question that constabularies will cooperate with each other as required.
I regard this as essential because of increasing evidence of long-distance criminal activity often originating in cities and then spreading to rural areas.
Police forces have been subject to reductions in public expenditure allocations but, so far, this has been managed extremely well in Gloucestershire, with better use of property and back office support characterising the necessary adjustments.
This increasingly sensible use of resources should be encouraging to us all.
Please contact me on 01453 751572 or visit my website - www.neilcarmichael.co.uk - for more information.