Archives for September 2015

Rural Crime

Who is most affected by rural crime?

I bet you wouldn’t answer farmers and young families. Or, perhaps you would, if you are one of those. I’d hazard a guess that most people involved in the police, local government or law enforcement worlds – including PCCs – would name the young, the old or the sick.

What’s interesting about the findings of the recent National Rural Crime Network survey is that they challenge our assumptions.

Crime appears to be significantly under reported in rural areas. Over a quarter of people did not report the last crime of which they were a victim. People in rural areas are more worried, not less, about crime than the national average.

Rural businesses report an average loss of £4000 from crimes that affect them, but only 32% claimed on insurance. The implied loss from rural crime is £800m, far higher than any figure previously quoted. Confidence in the police is much lower in this survey than reported elsewhere.

This is only one survey. Others tell a less dramatic story. NFU Mutual put the cost of rural theft at £37.8 million, down 15% on 2014. But it’s an important reminder that the real world is not always how the professionals and the policy wonks see it. We can all become swept away in groupthink.

This gives another reason why I think democratic accountability is so important. PCCs are up for election again next year – on May 5th next year. That will be a chance for the public to remind us what they want, not what we think they want. I’m looking forward to the debate.

What I take from the survey is that we cannot rest. Rural crime, like any crime, ruins lives and can destroy businesses. I want to make sure we continue to prioritise frontline policing, putting money where it works best. I want us to listen to victims so we can deliver better for them – and that means changing where they tell us to.

Across Carmarthenshire, Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, we have more officers on our streets for more of the time, than when I was elected. We’ve saved money, reduced household bills and increased support for victims. I want to continue that.

One thing didn’t come as a surprise in this survey. Strong communities are an important shield against the effects of crime. That’s where we must keep investing – in the relationship between the public and the police.

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You’re in Charge

Elections do a very simple thing. They put the public in charge. It may not be obvious to Mr. and Mrs. Jones as they go about their weekly shop, but they wield enormous power. They decide the future of governments. They decide the future of their local services too.

In May 2016 they will decide the future of the police service. They will elect Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales.

Police and crime commissioners are not a perfect form of governance. Like democracy itself, they are probably the worst form of government, except for all the others that we have tried from time to time… What they do, though, is give public services a human face. And it’s a face the public can change.

Since my election in 2012, I have been responsible for the entire Dyfed Powys budget of around £100m each year. I have appointed a new Chief Constable and scrapped targets so the police can focus on crime. I have employed more people in my office, but I have made sure that overall we do more and cost less. I have made difficult decisions, which others would try to avoid, like stopping money for monitoring CCTV.

I have done this because my priority was, and always will be, to keep crime down and people safe. That means the frontline – dedicated officers and staff – come first. So long as I am here, I will ensure all our effort goes to support these people, who protect our homes, families, farms and streets across a vast geography.

Difficult decisions are unavoidable in this job. All mine are part of my plan to deliver better rural policing for less money. Dyfed Powys now has less crime and anti-social behaviour than in 2012. We have 30 more officers for £8.8m less. That has enabled me to cut household bills by 5% since 2012.

Serving this part of Wales, the place I have always called home, has been a huge privilege. Last week I became an official candidate for the next police and crime commissioner elections in 2016. I want to finish the job I have started. That requires a plan and experience.

It also requires public support. That’s what I am asking for on May 5th 2016. I have the plan. I have the experience. I need the permission.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones, you do not know how powerful you are.

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