Electronic letter received from Andrew Reeves-Hall, 12 November 2012…
(disclosure: Andrew is a volunteer editor of this website)
[UPDATE: all candidates except one responded before the election. The one who didn’t was Simon Hayes, the one who was elected. He responded 3 months later on 1 February 2013]
Last Monday, the 5th of November – remember? – I searched at YourNextPcc to find out how to contact the candidates in our area for Police Crime Commissioner (PCC) – a new elected post paying about £85,000 according to the BBC (here).
I did this for two reasons: firstly, to ask each their position on a particular subject and secondly to see whether the candidates respond as part of their remit is to interact with the electorate – that’s us!
I would like to share with you my experience of how this has turned out – please note that I had no preference for any candidate or party nor am I a member of any political party.
So far, I have not been impressed by the response rate. Below, are the responses I did receive.
ENGAGING WITH THE PUBLIC?
The PCC is a new, elected role in 41 regions across England and Wales. The election is this Thursday, 15 November 2012.
The Home Office describes the role of a PCC as:
- holding the chief constable to account for the delivery of the force
- setting and updating a police and crime plan
- setting the force budget and precept
- regularly engaging with the public and communities
- appointing, and where necessary dismissing, the chief constable
ARE THEY LISTENING?
The two I italicized above, about the crime plan and engaging with the public, are the areas I touched upon by my query to the candidates.
If the PCC is representing me (and you!) then I sure would want to know that they listen to my input when considering the (poorly named?) crime plan and give me feedback about their decisions, even if I might not agree with them.
So, what was has the response rate been?
Well, I tweeted and emailed every candidate in our area this simple question, about road policing, a topic that I am interested in: if you are elected PCC then what is your policing plan in regards of bicycling?
Two days later I had just one reply via email – from the son of the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party candidate – and nothing via twitter.
Later that day, the son’s father – the actual candidate – replied to say that he agreed with what his son told me.
(Aside: Mid-week I there was a leaflet through my letter box from the Conservative candidate but that wasn’t because of my tweet/email I’m sure, as you probably got one too).
INVOLVED OUR MP TO PROMPT A RESPONSE
Last Friday at around 8pm, I emailed our MP, Sir George Young, to tell him that I hadn’t had a reply from 5 of the 6 candidates.
Sir George replied promptly – at just gone 11:30pm – to say,
“I will try to generate a response”
I interpreted that to mean that he will push the candidates to reply to my tweet and/or email.
UPDATE 1: on Monday the 12th, the email I received back from the Conservatives agent showed that the Conservatives agent had ‘nudged’ their candidate. The agent also went on to reply to me and say there was a possibility that my message was not received. I had sent it last Monday via the form on the candidate’s website as no email address was shown at that point (or I couldn’t find it).
UPDATE 2: At just before 5pm on 12th I received the reply from the Conservative candidate following the resubmission of my query as requested by the agent. It has been added below.
A SECOND CANDIDATE RESPONDS
On Sunday evening, 6 days after posing my question, I had a second candidate respond – the one from the Labour party.
That now leaves 4 other candidates yet to reply (including the Conservative candidate who’s agent says he may have not received my original message).
As I vote by post, time is pretty much up – I want to cast my vote and get it in the post by Tuesday latest so that it arrives for counting on Thursday, election day. I figure that I should narrow my choice down to 2 (possibly 3) candidates – the two which responded to me and the one who’s agent is at least is trying to get things sorted.
A tweet by the Hampshire Rural Police department
It is unfortunate that no candidate seems to use Twitter – as that is the place that I find a lot of discussion takes place: short, snappy answers or a link to a longer answer on a website.
Indeed, the Hampshire Rural Police tweeted this on Thursday: “#Twitter is the preferred method for many!!!!”
At least one candidate espouses the need for the use of ‘modern technology’ though (but didn’t respond themselves via Twitter). They state in their ‘Clean Campaign’ that they have “been championing the need for modern technology to help fight crime and calling into question whether or not his opponents have been making false promises that cannot be met.”
Below are the responses that I received to my query… (updates added as I received replies – note the date/time of them – the original question was sent on 5th)
UPDATE 3: After a lot of trying, a response from the elected PCC was received via a tweet on 1 February 2013 — that’s 3 months since first being asked!
|David Ian Goodall (Liberal Democrat)
Twitter: @LibDem4HantsPCC Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, 14 November 2012, 9:38pm (the eve of the election)
****[ed note: yes his email really had all these splats in it]
Thanks for your email.
For the Police the only issue can be poor cycling, as is the whole problem of safety on our roads. For traffic police officers my first priority is to do all that is a practical one to reduce the number of people who are killed or injured on the roads. I also believe that the police officers on the ground are best placed to know how to achieve that, rather than a politician or even the Chief Constable sat in ****Winchester****. This is probably because my brother is a Police Inspector currently in charge of a traffic division in Hampshire and I know how ‘fond’ he is top down initiatives. So I am aware of the issues of resources on the traffic side of the service.
That said I do back the 20 is plenty campaign and the schemes like the one ****Portsmouth**** Liberal Democrats have introduced to that effect. For more on this see the motion passed at Lib Dem conference this year:- http://www.libdems.org.uk/siteFiles/resources/docs/conference/2012-Autumn/F27.pdf
On the cycling, the way to deal with tackle any issues there is through the neighbourhood policing team. This is just the sort of issue they deal with in **West End** because it is a very local one. The key element in tackling this sort of problem is intelligence. The Police need to know things like which set of lights regularly has cyclists going through on red, approximately what time of day or which pavements are cycled on, areas where people are frequently seen without lights etc.****
In **West End**, one of the main resources the police have is our Community Safety Forum. This is a meeting between local Councillors, local community groups, individual residents and the police, where local problems are raised, discussed, and a way forward decided upon. The problem is although these Community Safety Forums are supposed to exist in every local area they do not or they are not as active as they should be.****
As Police Commissioner, I would look to strengthen the Community Safety Forum network across the whole area so that the Police get the information they need to effectively and efficiently perform their job. This should enable them to tackle a wide range of local issues including poor road use.
The issue of how each area should in general tackle problems on the road will be addressed in the Police and Crime plan that I as commissioner will have to produce, more information on this process please see my Manifesto which I have attached.****
I hope this answers your question. ****
|Simon Alexander Hayes (Independent) — ELECTION WINNER
Twitter: @Hayes4HantsPCC @HantsPCC and @HayesHantsPCC
Email: email@example.com (also via website form HERE or HERE)
Website: www.hayes4pcc.org http://www.hampshire-pcc.gov.uk
— no reply on twitter or email before election
— addresses changed following election win
— some issues with the contact forms on his websites have been reported – use email instead.
Update 1 February 2013: The PCC tweeted a reply shortly after I made a public appeal on Facebook and Twitter for him to reply!
Hants PCC @HantsPCC: “There is nothing specific in our police and crime plan about cyclists.”
A short while later, the man himself (note the different account name) tweeted,
Simon Hayes @HayesHantsPCC: “Pls let me know what aspects u feel should b included in plan.Happy to protect cyclists where possible.”
Update 8 January 2013:
I continue to ask Simon for his answer now that he has been elected.
I just tweeted this: “@HayesHantsPCC @HantsPCC What is your policing plan in regards to people who cycle? Thank you.”
|Don Jerrard (The Justice and Anti-Corruption Party)
Twitter: @jacpartyuk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, 7 November 2012, 2:57pm
Dear Mr Mair (sic),
Thank you for your email. My father (Don Jerrard) is currently on the Isle of Wight attending a hustings and so cannot respond to emails until this evening. I shall bring your email to his attention as soon as he returns.
In the meantime, one of my father’s priorities is road safety. Sadly, friends of mine have had fatal road accidents and my father certainly has feelings on the matter and how to police it. In addition, my brother was a victim of a cycling accident and was given a tough time by the Police, despite not having done anything wrong. Please do visit our website – www.jacparty.org.uk.
Andrew (Don’s son)
Wednesday, 7 November 2012, 2:59pm
Dear Mr Reeves-Hall,
I apologise for using the incorrect name in my previous email. The first part of the email was copied and pasted and I foolishly forgot to change the name.
Wednesday, 7 November 2012, 11:43pm
Dear Mr Reeves-Hall,
Thank you for your email. I agree with what my son, Andrew sent you earlier and you have my permission to quote the reply online if you wish to do so.
However I think you should be aware that the powers of the PCC in this respect are quite limited. The Chief Constable will still be in charge of operational matters, and the PCC will only be able to direct more resources to any specific area, and any such direction inevitably reduces resources otherwise available. That does not mean that I would not expect to have frank discussions with the Chief Constable on this or any other subject and I would expect to do so.
|Michael Mates (Conservative Party Candidate)
Twitter: @michaelmates Email: via website form HERE
Monday 12 November 2012, 10:30am
Dear Mr. Reeves-Hall,
(redacted as this email came from the Conservatives agent – the message said that the candidate may not have received my message – which I sent via his website form as no email address is shown on the site. There was a polite request to send it again via this agent).
Monday 12 November 2012, 4:51pm
Dear Mr Reeves-Hall – thank you for your email; at last received! I do
apologise for the muddle, but we are all under rather a lot of pressure as
you can imagine.
There is a lot of work to be done in this area – and not all of by the
police. It is welcome – and exciting – that cycling has become so much
more popular in the last few years – and it has taken
everyone responsible for road safety rather by surprise.
First – we need a co-ordinated plan to include safety of cyclists just as
much as all the other users of our roads. This needs to involve local
authorities at every level; highway authorities; schools and college; as
well as, of course, the police.
Then we need to lobby for the funds needed to make the infrastructure
improvements. There is much more that I could write about this subject.
Suffice it to say that the introduction of a
single, directly elected Commissioner will produce a person with the
authority and the mandate to coordinate this task.
If I am that person I shall tackle this subject vigorously and bring all
these diverse bodies together to try to solve the problem. And, of course,
cyclists themselves must be educated to obey the traffic laws – for their
own safety, and to show motorists that all who use the roads musty obey the
|Jacqui Rayment (Labour Party Candidate)
Twitter: @Jacqui4hantspcc Email: email@example.com (or form)
Sunday 11 November 2012, 9:05pm
Many thanks for emailing me, I understand your concerns re Cycling and Cyclists and the safety issues as some one who used to cycle but gave up a few years ago.
I believe we need to work together with Local Authorities and other partners to have more cycle lanes and to improve the high ways to get rid of pot holes.
Police Officers should be encouraged to use bikes to increase visibility but also so they have an understanding of the issues faced by Cyclists.
I also feel we need to work so that motorists and cyclists have a mutual respect for the roads and each other.
At this stage I am not sure I can add more but thank you again for your email.
|Stephen Michael West (UKIP)
Twitter: @cllrstephenwest Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
— no reply on twitter or email
Please note: This letter was updated at 15h55 to add the reference to the BBC article that states the approximate salary for the PCC.