“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”.
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.