On 19 July I was honoured to have been elected as the new Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria and one of the most enabling factors in this was my union, UNISON providing me with support throughout the campaign. I’m looking forward to working with members in the weeks, months and years ahead.
We share the same values and those are the values I’ll put into office as Police and Crime Commissioner. I’ve recently been on a tour of the force and met many UNISON police staff members, ranging from call handlers in the control room to PCSOs on the street – there is a real pride in the work UNISON does for its members and I look forward to attending the police staff branch meeting on Wednesday 4 September to build on our values.
I do not believe in the privatisation of police services, such action has been implemented elsewhere and I don’t believe we should ever put profit before public safety. In my first week in office, I wrote to the new Prime Minister, urging him to reverse the impacts of austerity, we must provide local residents with the services that will improve their lives, health and where applicable drive them away from crime. We have seen first-hand the devastating effects Tory / Lib Dem cuts have had since 2010, I have joined many of you on campaigns against austerity – that demand doesn’t stop because we have a new Prime Minister. I share UNISON’s drive to see our public services properly funded, be under no illusion, your voice is making a difference. We now have a commitment from Boris Johnson for 20,000 new police officers (he made a similar pledge on increased police numbers as London Mayor, but failed to deliver) your Labour Police and Crime Commissioner’s will hold him to account for not only the delivery of the money for these new officers, but to replace the many, many police and justice staff that do crucial roles, that have also been cut, but aren’t talked about quite so often. Going forward, I will be keeping an eye on how he proposes to fund the new officers, it is the role of government to ensure our communities are kept safe, it’s not for hard working council tax payers to pick up the cost through an ever increasing, unfair precept that we as PCCs are forced to impose.
As PCC, it is clear in my mind that the our Police force are there to support us, to serve us and to keep us safe. Tough rhetoric from the government about creating a police force that makes people fearful is concerning and ineffective. Our police officers need to be supported and provided with the skills and experience to do their jobs well and to deal with criminality, but the priorities of the force have to be guided by residents. Everyone, no matter who you are should be comfortable approaching a police officer for help.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner lead the way in becoming one of the first police forces to commit to being a living wage employer. The living wage makes a real difference to workers, it shows that we value them and their contribution to the organisation. We share the same values and aspirations as you.
My election manifesto promised to tackle crime by taking a public health approach, by looking at what’s causing crime, by treating violent crime as a disease and tackling it before it takes hold. If we are to tackle crime effectively we need to input from health, education, social services, justice and the police to name but a few – fortunately, our UNISON members occupy these spaces and can enable us to improve people’s lives and cut crime. Collective action by all stakeholders will help address problems such as rising crime, it won’t be easy but it has been proven to work in places such as Glasgow. If we tackle issues such as health inequality we will see the positive effects not just in policing, but in our schools and communities. Austerity has crippled the public sector and government have taken nearly a decade to realise this – we need now, more than ever to fight for the fair funding of vital public services, that people rely on, that support people to be happy and healthy- we know what our region needs to improve, not Whitehall.
I’ll always be proud to be a UNISON member. Together, we will continue to make a difference that supports members and communities accross Northumbria Police force area. If you have an event you would like me to attend, or an issue you want to raise drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.