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Your questions answered

November 15, 2012 7:33 AM

Over the past few weeks I have answered hundreds of email questions. Here is a selection of some of them to help you answer the question of who to vote for today:-

Can you promise not to privatise Hampshire police services?
Answer:- Yes for any Police Officer or police staff service, but I don't yet know what contracts the current Police Authority have already entered into.

Will you allow companies like G4S to get involved in the running of Hampshire police?
Answer:- No, I am committed to publicly accountable, in-house police services. For two main reasons:-

Firstly, the loss of control of how the service is run on a day to day basis once a service is contracted out. I have seen at first hand the problems this gave us in grounds maintenance at Eastleigh Borough Council. This is why the Environment Scrutiny Committee recommended the service was taken back in-house, when I chaired the committee. And why that service was taken back in-house.

Secondly, in my talks we the IPCC recently they brought up the issue of their access to employees of private firms, as opposed to members of the normal 'Police family'. Private firm employees don't have to answer their questions, whereas naturally normal 'Police family' do. This has caused problems in a number of investigations and caused a delay in justice.

Do you have any connection to companies that might be interested in police contracts?
Answer:-No. I work for Roke Manor Research at Romsey. If I get the job of commissioner I will be leaving my job Roke and the security work at Roke is not with individual Police forces. My wife works at Southampton University on at NHS research programme. One sister-in-law works for Marks & Spencers. The other sister-in-law is a district nurse. My children and my one nephew are still at school. One niece is severely autistic and lives in warden assisted accommodation. My other niece is a lifeguard and swimming instructor. My mother is a retired nurse. And finally my brother is a serving Hampshire Police Inspector.

Do you support the concept of "boots on the street" with an increase in foot patrols of qualified police constables in the community?
Answer:- One of my top three priorities is neighbourhood police this works extremely well with teams of Police Officers and PCSOs and I will support neighbours who wish to have increased numbers.

What schemes do you predict will improve the community involvement of police officers in currently abandoned areas?
Answer:-The working of community safety partnerships across the patch is variable and I aim to spread best practice and ensure the community safety partnerships work better.

Would you support a zero tolerance approach to illegally parked vehicles on our streets?
Answer:- If a Police Officer saw an illegally parked vehicle I would expect it to be ticketed. If this is what you mean by zero tolerance then the answer is yes.

Can you also tell me what experience you have of the police force in this area?
Answer:- My father was a Police Officer for 30 years in Hampshire. My brother will complete his 30 years in Hampshire police next year. I work with the local police within the neighbourhood team as a local councillor. I have been out on patrol with the police. I have been involved in the local community safety partnership.

I would like to know what position the liberal Democrats would take regarding privatising our local police force?
Answer:-The liberal Democrats are opposed to privatising any frontline line police role.

I believe this change is being pushed through without the support of the general public who the police force serves. This will be demonstrated by a very low turnout. What level of turnout of voters do you consider to be enough to give a mandate to winning candidates?
Answer:-Technical any turnout gives a mandate, but I believe the whatever the turnout if I am elected I will have to earn the respect of the public in the way I perform the job. If I earn that respect only then will I have a true mandate to do the job.

Theresa May recently stated that a 10% turnout for voting in these elections was quite acceptable. Do you agree?
Answer:- NO

Please give an example of a country where this system of elected commissioners has been successfully implemented? In the USA the result is the commissioner is looking at short term measures to be re-elected.
Answer:- I don't know of any but then it is not my parties or my view of how to oversee the police. The Liberal Democrats wanted to fill the democratic deficit of a Police Authority that could set taxes and policy, yet be not accountable to anyone, by directly electing the Police Authority using a single transferable vote (STV) system. This would have reduced the affect of party politics in the main make up of the authority, whilst at the same time filling the democratic deficit. However, that argument did not win the day within the coalition. Given that the Police Force area is not the same as any local authority area. I believe electing the Police Authority would have been a better direction to go.

Policing should be politically impartial. Do you agree?
Answer:- Yes, This is a critical question as we have no truly independent candidates in Hampshire. Even the independent candidate, is a former Conservative leader of New Forest District Council, is only standing as an independent because Michael Mates beat him in the nomination race for the Conservative Party.

The Liberal Democrats wanted to fill the democratic deficit of a Police Authority, that could set taxes and policy yet be not accountable to anyone, by directly electing the Police Authority, using a single transferable vote (STV) system. This would have reduced the affect of party politics in the main make up of the authority, whilst at the same time filling the democratic deficit. However, that argument did not win the day within the coalition, so we are now contesting Police and Crime Commissioners elections.

The single post of the Police and Crime Commissioner means that one party will have absolute control of the position. This means only one viewpoint. So to counter act this I plan to have a series of advisory panels that will be balanced before in both terms of their equality and political nature. This is the practical step that I will take, in addition to the formal one of the oath of impartiality that all PCCs will be required to swear when they are elected to office.

The swearing of an oath will be an important symbol of impartiality, emphasising both the significance of this new role in local communities and that PCCs are there to serve the people, not a political party or any one section of their electorate. But I believe it is the practical step that is more important - actions speak louder than words.

I am standing as a Liberal Democrat because that label best fits my own political views. I believe when standing for elected office it is best to use a label which is an honest reflection of your outlook, see my speech on this:-

Political views not politcial parties count

If affiliated to a political party will you act independently in the best interests of the citizens of Hampshire and not toady to any party line?
Answer:- I will always act in the way that I believe is best for the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, apart from 5.5 year period living abroad I have always lived in the force area.

Do you have permanent residence in Hampshire?
Answer:- Yes, my sole residence is 2 Culvery Gardens, West End, Southampton, SO18 3ND brought the house in December 1996 and moved in the spring of 1997.

Is this just another government backed initiative to cut costs rather than improve policing for the benefit of communities and a reduction in crime statistics?
Answer:- Neither the main aim is the remove the democratic deficit that the Police Authorities currently, without a democratic input it is difficult to have police by consent. On costs running the Police and Crime Commissioners Office will probably cost less then running the police authority, for a start the commissioner salary is £85,000 against the combined salaries of the 17 part-time police authority members of over £200,000.

On a personal level why you feel that you are the right person for the job?
Answer:- I have always had a natural interest in the police and how they are run, because my father was a Police Officer in Hampshire for 30 years, until he retired at the rank of Inspector and my younger brother will complete his 30 years in the Hampshire Constabulary next year. That gave me the interest but it is my experience and skills gained in my 30 years in industry and 10 years as a councillor that have let me to believe that I am the right person for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner. See next question for more detail or my biography

What is your work experience/working background that makes you feel that you have the right competencies for the job?
Answer:- In 1979 I started my working life as an apprentice aged 16. Having finished my apprenticeship with the top apprentice award the company then sponsored me to do a degree in Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Portsmouth with an additional Industrial Study Diploma (Project and management studies). Since graduation in 1986 I have worked as an electronics design engineer at Plesseys in Cowes and for Siemens in Munich. In 1996 I joined Roke Manor Research starting as a consultant engineer but then quickly moved into management both line management of a group and project management. Since joining Roke I have managed over 80 projects all of which have made a profit. So I am a chartered engineer with experience and qualifications in project management.

I have been a councillor for the past 10 years used to working in the local government arena. I have chaired and been a member of a number of Scrutiny Panels. I am currently chair of the Partnership of Urban South Hampshire (PUSH) Scrutiny Panel, with examines the interworking of the all of the councils in the southern part of Hampshire. I have been elected to this position on a cross party and cross council basis for the last three years.

I have been a school governor for the past 10 years working on the finance sub-committee checking the spending and making decisions on how best to invest public money.

All these roles I believe give me the right experience and skills to perform the role of Police and Crime Commissioner.

Where do you stand on Christian's preaching in public that have been the subject of aggressive policing and even arrest for using 'insulting' language?
Answer:-As a Christian I can fully understand the concern about the issue of how to preach in public when some of God's word is difficult for those who hear to understand, particularly if the people hearing it have no understanding at all about Christian language or the bible.

I am a member at Thornhill Baptist Church in Southampton. I know when the minister has given a sermon on a difficult area, like relationships, they have always been very careful as to the language they use, particularly as they know members of the church family who have been through very difficult family situations. In my view the main thought should be are the words used spreading the love that Jesus has for everyone or not, if they are spreading that love then it will not be insulting.

What is your view of Streetpastors and the need that many such groups feel (not necessarily from the police) to downplay their Christian identity, ethos or ethical stance?
Answer:- I fully support the great work that the Streetpastors do. In Eastleigh where I am a councillor the local Police reported a significant reduction in anti-social behaviour after the Streetpastors starting working in the area. If elected I would actively support the network. I see no problem in Streetpastors saying why they are doing this work, providing they have the correct training on how to 'talk church to the un-churched'.

And I would welcome the input of the Streetpastors network when drawing up the Police and Crime plan.

Hopefully the Streetpastors network could have a representative on the Community Advisory panel I plan to have.

Will you enforce wildlife crime?
Answer:- I have received three requests for my views on wildlife crime.

The first concerns the trafficking of wildlife and their parts particularly endangered species. The second issue concerns the use of dogs to hunt in the countryside.

The request on both is that these issues will not be forgotten in the pressure to remove some £55 million from Hampshire Constabulary's £300 million budget.

I personally am not in favour of hunting with dogs and I also wish to see the illegal trafficking of wildlife and their parts stopped, which is why I have signed the International Fund for Animal Welfare pledge which says "I am committed to enforcing all crime, including wildlife crime."

The campaign from Lush says the Wildlife Crime Unit is underfunded, however until I get my hands on the books I don't know if that is case and therefore I also don't know how much more funding is required. Therefore I don't believe it would be right to sign a pledge to commit more resources until I know the cost of that pledge.

Another campaign in a similar policy area is the League Against Cruel Sports one on the wider issue dog fighting and other illegal activities against the wildlife population in Britain. I welcome their offer to work alongside the police to help combat these problems. How this would be done should be written into the Police and Crime Plan.

How funding is to be allocated will be based on the Police and Crime Plan that I as PCC have to develop and I will update this on a yearly basis. However I am not an expert in every area therefore I have proposed to setup advisory panels to review policy and procedures. These panels will also have a direct input into the Police and Crime Plan. Groups like Lush, IFAW and the League Against Cruel Sports are welcome to join the Special Interest Advisory panel to ensure this important issue is not forgotten about.

Next year these three policies are up for review and, if elected, I would see that would also be a task of the advisory panels to check to see if they are fit for purpose:-

I am contacting you as a local resident who thinks participatory budgeting could help you, if elected, to allocate the force's budget effectively. Would you commit to trusting residents to decide directly 1% of the budget?
Answer:- Currently I am Chair of West End Parish Council and we did some participatory budgeting in last financial year to decide how to allocate our grant money to local groups. This financial year we have a £2000 pot to allocate in a participatory budgeting vote at our annual parish meeting in April 2013.

So I think to have an element of participatory budgeting in deciding how to spend some of the police budget would be a good idea. For it to work on a large force like Hampshire, which includes Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight, I think there would have to be a number of local pots and community meetings to decide how to spend it.

The other question to decide would be the amount of money to put into the overall pot. On current budget levels 1% is £3,000,000 and without a detailed look at the books I could not commit to putting that level into participatory budgeting scheme.

However i do believe some level of scheme would be a good idea.

What are your views on the shotgun/firearm laws as you will be central to the licences?
Answer:- I am in favour shooting for sport and hunting and the legal possession of firearms for these purposes, but of course the proper controls have to be in place for storage and handling of the weapons, as well as, the checks on the people who holds firearm licenses. And of course the guns must only be used on a controlled shooting range or on a managed hunting estate, and as far as I am aware the correct controls are in place and don't need change.

In respect to young people taking up shooting as a sport, I am all in favour of any young person taking up any sport including shooting. The excellent performance in the Olympics with the gold medal in the trap just proves what a great sport shooting can be.

I have also had a number of people saying the performance from Hampshire Police in the processing of firearm license renewals is poor, taking up to 7 months. This is clearly not good enough. If the people complaining to me are correct there is a large backlog at present. In my experience the only way to clear backlogs is to have a burst of extra manpower and then to change the processes to improve the way that are handled to prevent the build up again. This is clearly an issue which will need closer inspection if I get in as I have had a number of complaints on this issue.

To improve performance generally I have proposed a performance scrutiny panel. Under the current Police Authority there is also a scrutiny panel looking at performance. However it is filled by Councillors who also sit on other committees and cannot possibly give this their full attention or ask tricky enough questions. I plan to get willing volunteer members of the public, who can solely concentrate on this issue and who have some expertise in the field of service delivery. I believe this approach will lead to improved performance delivery in both the frontline and the support departments.

Do you back the 20 is plenty scheme?
Answer:-I fully back the 20 is plenty and the scheme that Portsmouth Liberal Democrats have introduced to that effect. I supported the motion at Lib Dem conference this year on this, see 20 is Plenty - Saving Lives on the Road

What remuneration, what expenses and what other benefits will the position carry ?
Answer:- The annual salary the Police and Crime Commissioner post for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is £85,000. See the home office site for more information

The Police and Crime Commissioner will replace the Police authority which has part-time 17 members who are paid and claim expenses. In the last financial year they were paid a total of £216,290 in allowances and claimed £20,773 in expenses. For your information the current members allowance scheme is shown on the Hampshire Police Authority Website.

For expenses I believe what could be claimed remains unchanged. You may also be interested in my views on this subject see transparency and honesty is vital and my published council income