Why vote for me?
By David Goodall in Speech to an Annual Dinner organised by Fareham Liberal Democrats
Good evening, Ladies & Gentleman of Fareham, like many people involved in public life I wear a number of hats, I'm an Eastleigh Borough Councillor, I'm Chair at West End Parish Council, a Bitterne Park School Governor, a Southampton Advice & Representation board member, I'm the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire's scrutiny committee Chair. But in this role as PCC candidate for Hampshire and Isle of Wight I am also wearing my first ever hat, that of a Policeman's son.
Being a Policeman's son and the brother of a serving Hampshire Police Inspector naturally led me to be interested in this post when it arose.
Of course having a relative as a Police Officer is not enough to qualify someone as Police and Crime commissioner. So why do I believe I am right for this job?
Well the Commissioner's job is to:-
- 1. Hold the Chief Constable to account for Policing - I have experience of chairing of several council scrutiny panels.
- 2. Set and update the policing plan - my project management experience is invaluable.
- 3. Set the police budget and precept - just as I have for 10 years on the Council.
- 4. Engage with the public and communities - just as I have as a councillor to get elected five times.
- 5. Appoint and if necessary dismiss the Chief Constable - as a manager I have made decisions on both recruitment and redundancy.
Well that is all well and good but why should people vote for me?
Firstly, I know the area well having lived in Southampton, Portsmouth, Eastleigh, Winchester and the Isle of Wight. In fact my life is almost equally split between Island and mainland living.
Secondly, as a Chartered Engineer I am always interested in the practical solutions to problems. The political world on law and order is too full of tough talk, hard-hitting sound bites and not enough looking at what actually works. If there were a solution to a crime issue affecting Hampshire or the Island then I would consider introducing it, particularly if it has worked elsewhere. The determining factor will be does it work, not does it sound tough or soft on crime.
Thirdly, as councillor for over 10 years I know the importance of communities and agencies working together to achieve a common goal. This is particularly necessary in the fight against crime. The police need effective information and the public need to trust the police. If neither part of this relationship is working well then the quality of our society suffers, too.
Finally, the management skills I have gained in over 30 years working in industry with a variety of people from around the UK and the world, in different situations and circumstances mean that I am well able to cope with the changes in the years ahead.
In short -
- I'm a local chap.
- I'm an engineer looking for practice solutions.
- I'm an electronics designer able to understand how technology can help policing.
- I'm a project manager used to budgets, plans, goal setting, making critical decisions and managing people.
- I'm a councillor interested in engaging with the public and I know how local government works.
- I'm a school governor for over 10 years interested in our young peoples future.
- I'm a policeman's son and brother interested in improving policing.
- I'm a father of twins who just wants a better place for my children to live in.
Now in the fight against crime I'm sure you all know how it is done, you have all heard politicians make speeches on how being tough on crime is essential, with Tony Blair's "we will be tough on crime and causes of crime" soundbite or Michael Howard's "prison works" speech. The problem is soundbites like these simply don't work.
The question is not whether your policies and speeches are tough or soft on crime but whether they are effective that counts. And to be effective crime fighting policies need to be based on evidence of what works. So here are some examples of work Lib Dem councils have done to tackle crime:-
Liberal Democrats in Somerset pioneered the introduction of Community Justice Panels, the result is low reoffending rates, currently 3% compared with some prisons at 70% for the same type of offences. The victim satisfaction with the scheme is extreme high between 90 and 95 percent. The cost is low an average of £163.50 compared with recent local government association research of £648 for an assault case, £720 for a theft case or £612 for a vandalism case.
This means Community Justice Panels are more effective, better for the victim, and less expensive. So why haven't they spread like wild fire? Well the problem is that having a process that brings victims and offenders together to get the offender to see the error of their ways, involving the victim in the sentencing process and dishing out community service orders all sounds a bit soft on crime. But it's not how it sounds that is important, what's important is does it work.
Community Justice Panels work. Let's do what works. That's why I support wider introduction of Community Justice Panels across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Under the Lib Dems, Cardiff Council worked with the police and the local NHS to help tackle anti-social behaviour generated by excessive drinking. They used anonymised data from local Accident and Emergency departments to map violent incidents. They then used 'saturation zones' in certain streets to limit the numbers of alcohol licences permitted. And the result of a four year study into the affect of this saw 42% fewer woundings compared to 14 similar cities in England and Wales.
But do you hear about Politicians talking about analysing data to tackle drunken behaviour? Well no, because it's all a bit woolly, a bit soft. But you will hear things like Tony Blair saying "lets fine them on the spot, march the to yobs the nearest cashpoint and make them pay up."
Talking tough doesn't work, analysing data and deploying Police resources does. Let's do what works. That's why I support smarter deployment of Police resources.
Lib Dem Sutton set up their Safer Sutton Partnership in 2004. It brings all local public services covering community safety (council, police, schools, mental health, volunteers) together under a single line manager. Over the last 7 years this has meant reported crime has fallen by 27.5%, violence against the person down by 37%, motor vehicle theft down by 48%.
Bringing all the agencies together in a single partnership works. Let's do what works. This is why I support greater cooperation between agencies to tackle crime.
The obvious target of any Police and Crime Commissioner is to protect the public and to reduce all levels of all type of criminal behaviour. So after looking at the examples I have mentioned and other ones of doing what works to tackle I decided that my top priorities as Commissioner to achieve this basic aim would be:
- 1. Neighbourhood Policing - keeping officers on the frontline and building stronger links with the community, it's the best way to tackle all crime.
- 2. Better & smarter technology - as a chartered engineer I know being smarter with technology is essential. It will get officers out working in the community and deployed in the rights areas to tackle crime.
- 3. Greater cooperation - Police tackle law enforcement but team working with the community and other agencies is essential. It's everyones task to prevent crime, to ensure justice for victims and to rehabilitate offenders to stop further crime.
And in the final point there, rehabilitation of offenders is the key. It simply has to be the aim of the criminal justice system that the first time they see an offender is also the last. Yet too often this is not the case. Too often offenders leave the system only to return within a year or two of release from prison.
I believe there is a great role for the Commissioner to take up in reforming offender handling. There needs to be greater joining up of services, for example a prisoner should always leave prison with future benefits, housing, training and health treatment (mainly drug and mental health) requirements sorted out. Action that works, like Liberal Democrats in Portsmouth policy of 'meet at the prison gate'. Because to leave an ex-con, pennyless, homeless person on the street with poor education, drug and mental problems a recipe for disaster. The key thing to note is that rehabilitation reduces crime and reduces the number of victims.
It was reported in May this year that of the offenders sentenced for serious crimes in England and Wales last year, 90% had offended before. And the proportion of all offenders with 14 or more convictions has increased from 29% in 2001, to 38% in 2006 to 44% last year. Yet in the middle of that list, Michael Howard in the 2005 general election claimed prison works.
Now at the same general election in 2005 as a candidate in Southampton, I said at a hustings meeting that the most effective way to cut crime was to cut reoffending. By getting hold of the offender and sorting out their problems - to rehabilitate them.
This drew condemnation from the Tory and UKIP candidates, as being soft on crime and not thinking about the victim. Nothing, I repeat nothing, could be farther from the truth.
An offender creates one victim, a repeat reoffender creates a sea of victims. This we must stop. To do this we need a rehabilitation revolution, as the Liberal Democrat conference called for in a debate in Brighton last month.
It is simply not good enough to have prisons with reoffending rates of 70%. We must have prisons where the main thought from day one is, how best can we reintroduce this person back into society? And nearly all prisoners do come back into society.
So can a different approach work? Yes it can. Just talk to the Langley House Trust based in Winchester as I have done. Now, they too have reoffending rates, for the last 12 years their rate is less than 10%. And last year it was only 2%.
That is what you call effective.
That is being effective on crime for the victims of crime.
That is truly being tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.
Taking criminals and making citizens is taking a hard tough course of action.
Yet for too long successive governments have simply not had the bottle.
It has taken the Liberal Democrats in government to push this agenda and it will require Liberal Democrats as Police and Crime Commissioners around the country to really make the difference.
I hope that come November the 15th you can support me with your first preference vote and that together we can do what works to make our community a safer and better place to live.