This election is about Avon and Somerset

We know that this election can not be won on Bristol votes alone and I am especially pleased by the wide number of people who have expressed their support from across the whole of Avon and Somerset. The people of Bath, Somerset and other areas are crucial in the selection, in the election and in doing the job. I have lived and worked in rural and urban areas. Born in Southmead in Bristol and now living in Somerset which I have represented I understand the very diverse needs of  these communities. If selected as the Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner I will serve everyone in Avon and in Somerset.

Watch my video on ‘The wider importance of the campaign for Labour’

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UNISON Supports Campaign

UNISON South West support  @BobAshford1 for Police Commissioner.

” The elections of Police and Crime Commissioners will potentially have far reaching consequences for UNISON members working for the Police and Local Authorities. That why we are backing Bob Ashford campaign for the post in Avon and Somerset. With his background in public services. his involvement in the trade union movement and his professional expertise and knowledge in criminal justice at a local and national level Bob will make the ideal Police Commissioner.”

Former Chief Cop backs Campaign

Charles Clark OBE, QPM, the former Deputy Chief Constable of Essex Police today outlines his support for Bob Ashford’s campaign for PCC for Avon and Somerset:

“I have known Bob Ashford since 2002 when he was given the job at the Youth Justice Board to lead the work to develop a national crime prevention strategy for the YJB. He was the outstanding candidate having been a Youth Offending Team Manager,and with previous experience working with a wide range of partners at the local level. He soon established himself as a trusted and respected figure across government departments and with the many senior partners across the country who he worked with. He has been personally responsible for channelling £’s millions into preventing youth crime which has seen a massive reduction (over 40%) in the numbers of children and young people offending and  entering the youth justice system. He has been influential in developing the national youth strategy for policing and has been an active member of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Children and Young Persons Committee, which develops policy and practice for policing. He is knowledgeable, well respected, has regard to the views of others and delivers what he says. He is a first class candidate for the post of Police and Crime Commissioner”.

Need for Joined up Thinking Between Victims’ Services and PCCs

Yesterday in Weston Super Mare, I attended the launch of an excellent new report commissioned by Victim Support .  This focused on the issues affecting victims and witnesses of crime in Avon and Somerset. It also included challenges to the new PCCs on the role they should take in the delivery of services to victims of crime. These timely and pertinent challenges need to be addressed by prospective PCC candidates.

However, in the ensuing discussion several issues became apparent:

1)   The report might have drawn on the work of an even wider range of victims’ organisations working in Avon and Somerset, especially those supporting the victims of anti-social behaviour.

2)     There are a large number of organisations working with victims of crime in all its manifestations e.g. hate crime, domestic violence, anti-social behaviour, sexual violence etc.

3)     Looking at offender profiles it is clear that many of them have been victims themselves, either from physical or sexual abuse or being caught up in domestic violence as children. As such there is a correlation between being victims of crime and offending. This is not to excuse offending or stigmatise victims but to understand the relationship.

PCCs are going to be faced with reduced budgets and demands from a wide range of organisations for financial support. We will have to make sure we make the best use of existing services so we can extract maximum value from the budget. Therefore whilst accepting the proposals posed by the Report  my own proposals to victims’ organisations in Avon and Somerset are:

1. Look at how they might further improve coordination of their services in presenting a joined up case to enable PCCs and victims organisations to be even more effective .

2. Look at and articulate the impact their services can provide in reducing offending as well as the impacts on victims.

Thanks to Victim Support for inviting me to such a stimulating and useful day and I look forward to working with VS and other victims organisations in the future.

Why Chief Constables must maintain their operational independence

One reason the Labour Party was initially against the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners was the concern that they would undermine the operational integrity of Chief Constables and politicise policing. That is why the Party was successful in ensuring there would be a protocol that ensures Chief Constables will maintain their independence.

A classic example of interference in operational policing was unearthed at the Leveson Inquiry when Boris Johnson and  his office came under fire after his Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse had complained to Scotland Yard on “several occasions” that it was devoting too many resources to the News of the World phone-hacking investigation. This was after Johnson had already claimed that  the original claims of widespread phone hacking were “a load of codswallop cooked up by the Labour party”. We now know just how monumentally wrong he was and how dangerous this interference can be. Chief Constables must have operational independence in preventing crime, catching criminals and bringing them to justice.

It is right and proper that Chief Constables and others who are commissioned to deliver crime reduction are held to account, as indeed Commissioners will be. In developing the Policing and Crime Plan Commissioners need to be the bridge between local communities and the police and other statutory agencies but having developed the Plan it is then the responsiblity of the Police and other agencies to deliver. That is why Commissioners need to fully understand the justice system and have the experience and knowledge necessary to be tough but fair and work with and not against those at the sharp end of delivery.