Welsh Conservative Conference Speech

Every now and then something jumps out at you in this job.

It might be the distraught father of a severely autistic man, caught up in the nightmare of the criminal justice system.

It might be the heart-breaking story of a couple, investing their savings in their dream retirement home, only to land next to the neighbours from hell as disputes escalate and the value of their property falls to nothing.

It might be the horror or a woman clinging to her family in the face of violence and abuse – in the very place she should be safest.

It might be stories of trafficking, fraud or businesses crippled by online criminals.

These are all things that affect people across Dyfed Powys. The police deal with them every day.

I hear about them in my surgeries in towns and villages from Llanfyllin to Llansteffan.

Rural areas present their own problems. As Sherlock Holmes puts it:

“the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling… countryside”!

… He must have been having a bad day… I don’t think it’s quite that bad…

In case I depress you, you also hear about the officers who check on families every day; the disputes over a tree root settled; or, the work of our new joint police and mental health team who prevent sick people ending up in jail.

That is the work of the police today. It is what I fund, support and oversee as Police and Crime Commissioner.

It is what courts and justice should do. But too often bureaucracy, confusion and paperwork prevent them.

Like the police before the reforms of this – one of our greatest Home Secretaries – central interference strangles local justice.

Reforms

That is why I hope a future, Conservative, government devolves justice budgets to PCCs.

If you want to know where decisions are made, follow the money. Only when we have joined up budgets will we have joined up decisions.

That will allow PCCs to ensure that victims get swift, sure justice.

Then we can bring proper authority, respect and standing to our local courts. We can drag them out from dreadful grey concrete offices, that look like some 1960s municipal car park, into the public’s eye.

Because the first duty of government is to provide security and justice for its citizens. And the best form of security and justice is security and justice that is owned by those citizens.

That is the great tradition of British liberty, stretching back through the creation of our police in the nineteenth century; the establishment of our Parliamentary traditions in 17th; and the roots of our legal system in Magna Carter and the great codification, here in Wales, by Hywel Dda.

We do not have laws imposed upon us. We own our laws. We make them. We police them. We judge them. We uphold them.

In creating PCCs, this government has broken the fiefdoms of cosy committees and worthy ‘experts’ who had smothered the administration of the police. It has given the public a voice.

You have someone you elect, who you can sack, to implement your priorities.

These reforms have put the law-abiding in charge of law-enforcement.

Leadership

Local leadership means we can tackle local problems.

In Dyfed Powys it means we focus on preventing crime.

Since my election we:

  • Have 30 more officers for our rural policing;
  • The highest proportion of frontline officers in Wales;
  • We are on course for 100,000 hours of extra police time thanks to investment in IT

That means more officers, for more time, tackling crime in our towns and villages.

It means we can start to improve local justice. We need swift, sure justice so offenders learn to behave and victims can find their peace.

We have introduced:

  • 2 new rape crisis centres, due in Aberystwyth and Newtown
  • Extra support for victims of domestic abuse
  • 2 new mental health support teams

We have overhauled our complaints system.

We have introduced some of the most comprehensive reforms in England and Wales, which the government themselves are adapting.

That is what you get with leadership – new ideas and innovation.

Finally – and it is finally because we can only do this by improving services first – we are returning savings to taxpayers in some of the poorest communities of Wales.

Families in Dyfed Powys will pay 5% less for policing next year.

How many Labour run authorities in Wales can claim that?

They claim to speak for the workers but try to prize their grubby little hands off workers’ cash and you’ll discover something far stronger than superglue.

We can lighten the load on families because we are on course to save £8.8m between 2013 and 2016.

The top ten salaries are down 20%.

We have the lowest cost per head in Wales.

That is what you can achieve when you put the public in charge.

Choice

Or, perhaps I should say, that is what you can achieve when the public have the profound good sense to elect Conservatives!

You get leadership and decisiveness; action not words.

Labour’s proposals for policing are all talking-shops and committees, joint boards and national plans, local consultation and government meddling.

No one is actually in charge. No one is accountable.

That’s the way they like it. It’s a miasma of competing interests; a fog indecision.

What else could we expect from their government?

Nothing. Hot air, motherhood-and-apple-pie

… (except Ed M’s forgotten the pie and Ed B can’t remember who his mother is)…

… confusion and chaos:

A kitchen cabinet producing a dog’s dinner government.

That is Britain’s alternative in May.

Will we have a Conservative government or the hapless court of Ed the Unready?

We have given people…

…people who are struggling with mental health issues in the justice system…

…people who are victims of crime…

…people who work hard for their money and wonder why they should keep paying more…

…a voice over their justice, that they pay for.

Huge swathes of government are benefitting from overdue reform.

None of that is easy. It has not been in Dyfed Powys.

Heaven knows it cannot have been easy for David Cameron with a great LibDem albatross slung around his neck.

But we have done it because we love our country and we want better lives for its people.

Now they have their choice. What is it to be?

Competence or chaos?

Plan or no idea?

On your side or on your back?

From mid-Wales we can give our own: it’s not been easy; we are delivering change; the plan is working; there are brighter days ahead.

Wales, we are on your side.

Delivered to the Welsh Conservative Conference on 28.2.2015

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Flying Low

News that the National Police Air Service want to close Pembrey air base is hugely disappointing.

We signed an agreement to join only a few months ago. That was good for Powys and Ceredigion as well as Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. It secured access to air services for more hours of each day, from more bases, for slightly less money than it cost to run our own.

Running a helicopter is extremely expensive. I discovered this before Christmas in 2013 when the helicopter gearbox broke. It cost £250,000 to repair. Not a Christmas present I particularly wanted.

In the last few days, the helicopter used to look for Cameron Comey, the little boy who fell into the Towy, was initially provided from South Wales. Our helicopter was in Nottingham, again grounded for repairs.

The base we have in Pembrey is currently open from 9am to 9pm. When we join NPAS (currently expected to be 1 January 2016) all the bases will operate 24 hours a day.

So, there are good reasons for joining the national service. On top of that, we had no choice. The government could have forced us to join.

We need to work more closely with other forces if we are to deliver expensive things like air support in future. But that shouldn’t happen at the expense of service in rural areas.

My job last November was to get the best possible deal for Dyfed Powys. We hoped we had secured it. Unfortunately, we have more to do.

My job now is still to ensure that we get the best possible deal for rural areas like Dyfed Powys. With the Chief Constable, I will do exactly that.

I am determined that we will have a service that covers all of Dyfed Powys, when we need it at a price we can afford.

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What should we do with speeding fines?

What do you want me do with money from speeding fines?

Do you want money to be ring fenced for road safety policing, like cameras? Or should we use it for general policing?

Let me know in a quick one-question survey here.

No one is ever happy when it comes to speeding fines. I can hear you muttering that they are ‘just a money raising device’ right now. Some might be saying they are a fair cop – and a way of improving driving. It usually depends on whether you’ve been caught.

At the moment, the situation is this. If you are caught within certain limits you are offered a course, which means you don’t get points. There are several courses depending on what you’ve done.

Let’s take the standard speed awareness course. It costs £85.

The money is spent as follows. At the moment £5 goes to administration of the national database that records who has done the course where. In Wales, £35 goes via me to the GoSafe partnership between police, local and Welsh government. They run the cameras. In Dyfed Powys £22.31 goes on setting up the courses – administration, venues, tutors, etc..

That leaves £22.69 per course. That money comes to me as Police and Crime Commissioner. I can spend it on policing or other crime prevention work.

Since May we have had 7,432 people on courses. That gives us £169k in Dyfed Powys. With other courses, like seat belt courses, 20mph speed courses and so on, we could have up to £500,000 in 2014/15.

That is the bit I would like your help on. Should we increase or reduce the amount going back into cameras?

Traditionally police keep money from road fines for road policing. That has the advantage that it ensures the money is spent on worthwhile aims.

But it has a problem. It makes people suspicious. It can add to the impression that fines are money raising, rather than safety, devices. It can also mean that you end up spending too much on roads policing, when you should spend it on something else.

Should we spend it on cycle or motorbike safety courses, for example? Or should we spend it on local officers or cyber crime specialists?

It’s over to you. What would you like me to do with fine money?

If you’re harbouring a secret rage, this is your chance. If you know someone else who might be, pass this on, encourage them to sign up and have your say.

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Police Cars and Ambulances

Problems in the Welsh NHS are becoming inescapable. Missed targets – the worst for years – illustrate what anyone who works close to the NHS can tell you. The system is in serious trouble. Even BBC Wales picked up on this, with six days of coverage last week.

We cannot for one second blame staff. They are as much victims in this as patients. The problem – much as it was in policing – is weak leadership. And that starts at the top, with politicans.

Large organisations need simple messages. They need leaders empowered to lead. They also need honesty. Only then can staff flourish and patients benefit.

To criticise the NHS in Wales is not to criticise Wales, or NHS staff. It is to acknowledge that people’s health is more important than protecting reputations in Cardiff.

Wales has denied its problems for too long. It suffers from a dangerous consensus among officials and politicians in Cardiff Bay. No one dares tell truth to power. Wales, tragically, is performing worse than England, far worse. Excessive sensitivity about these comparisons allows ministers to avoid scrutiny of their performance.

I’m no fan of Cameron’s crude rhetoric about Offa’s Dyke being the line between life and death but that does not mean he is wrong. All last year Cardiff Bay politicians tried to silence anyone who criticised the performance of the NHS in Wales, including Labour MPs like Ann Clwyd.

Now NHS pressures are spilling over into policing. In December Dyfed Powys had twice as many trips to A&E as in November. Some of these trips start when officers are already at the scene. Sometimes police are asked to attend by 999 call staff. Why? Because ambulances aren’t available.

That means more officers waiting in A&E, officers conducting at-scene medical assessments beyond their expertise, or officers leaving their duties to drive patients to hospital… which in turn means those officers are not able to perform their day jobs.

It is simply not fair on officers. They will take the blame if something goes wrong. It’s not fair on patients. They are being denied the care they should get. And it is not fair on the public who pay for this mess.

I, and others, have raised the issue repeatedly over the last two years. All we get is talk and no action, consultation documents and muddle-headed legislation. Welsh ministers fiddle while Rome burns.

Meanwhile, those same ministers are seeking to expand their powers. They want to control policing, courts and probation services.

We have trodden on eggshells for too long. The question is increasingly how – and whether – the current model of government in Wales can be made to work as it is, not how much more to give it.

Why should we trust Cardiff ministers to control law and order with so many existing failures in health and education unaddressed? We shouldn’t.

The people of Wales deserve better.

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Whose money is it anyway?

Good news. On Friday my proposal to cut the tax local people pay for their policing gained approval.

The Police and Crime Panel – a committee of local councillors who scrutinise my work and vote on key decisions – supported my plan to reduce the police precept by 5%.

The precept is the part of council tax that the public pay for policing. It accounts for about 45% of my budget of £97m for Dyfed Powys. I set it, as Police and Crime Commissioner, and the Panel approves it. The rest of our money, broadly, comes from the Home Office.

Why have I done this? Because I recognise what too few politicians in Wales do: that there is no such thing as ‘government’ money. All money is taxpayers’ money. People have to earn it first. Whatever politicians take in taxes they cannot spend in looking after their families.

We live in one of the poorest parts of the UK. Public servants have a duty to spend every penny of taxpayers money as if it were their own.

That’s exactly what we’ve done since I was elected in 2012. In 2015 we will have 30 more officers, new mobile tablets that free 100,000 hours of police time and extra support for victims. All for less money than was paid in 2013.

How? We made tough decisions early. I have cut 20% from the top 10 salaries in Dyfed Powys. I set the Chief Constable and his team challenging targets, which they worked hard to deliver.

Now I am able to use those savings to lighten the load on taxpayers a little and maintain the Chief Constable’s budget.

We will continue to invest in cutting crime. I will continue to use savings we have made to reduce costs.

In the meantime, these plans mean that, if you are a Band D council taxpayer in Dyfed Powys you will pay around £200pa, compared to £210 in 2014/15. You will not pay more for policing than you do now until 2018.

That is what I mean by lightening the load. It’s not giving something away; it’s not taking it in the first place. Whose money is it anyway? It’s yours.

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What should you pay for the police?

How much should we pay for policing our communities?

That’s the question I’ve been asking over the past week. We need to set a new budget for the next financial year, which begins in April. That means I need to set the local tax that pays for the police and all the work my office does through commissioned services.

We get about £54m a year from central government. We know that is going to get less. We raise about £46m a year from local taxes. That has risen over the years, although I have reduced the rises since being elected into office.

By the end of my term (in May 2016), we will have reduced the costs of the police by £8.8m. That includes cutting the amount spent on the top ten salaries by 20%. We will have 30 extra officers on the beat. New smartphones will mean the same officers can spend another 100,000 hours a year on patrol next year.

We also have significant reserves. Some of these are allocated for specific projects. But some are the result of us spending less than planned. What should we do with that? We could keep it for a rainy day. We could invest it. Or, we could return it to taxpayers.

That’s what many politicians in Wales fail to understand. Taxing more is so much easier than taking the difficult decisions to save money, as we have done. Every decision I make is about how to ensure we have the safest communities in the country for the least possible cost.

We live in one of the poorest regions of the UK. Every penny of the £100m I spend comes from people’s pockets. It’s your money and Dyfed Powys is your police force to protect your communities.

Now, I’d like to know what you think about how much policing our communities should cost next year.

We have a short survey here. It’s one page and three easy questions. Please, take a few moments to tell me what you think.

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Exchange of letters with Secured by Design

Below is an exchange of letters with Secured By Design, following an original letter from GK Strategy, a lobbying and PR firm, seeking support for references to SbD in new building regulations.

My initial concern was the conflict of interest between SbD as a company essentially selling a quality assurance mark also being involved in setting the regulations that create the need for that assurance.

The exchange reads chronologically from bottom to top. The responses explain the situation and Mr. McInnes has been commendably transparent. My concerns about the conflicted position of SbD, and indeed other quasi official police-related companies such as RSS Ltd., remain.

I am publishing the exchange in the interests of transparency and fairness, following my initial open letter to SbD (at the bottom) and subsequent discussions with Mr. McInnes.


From: alan mcinnes
Sent: 11 November 2014 20:43
To: Salmon Christopher Police & Crime Commissioner
Subject: Re: ACPO Secured by Design & Housing Standards Review

Dear Christopher,

 

Thank your reply. I fully understand your views on our being referenced and respect that. We, however find ourselves in this situation by circumstances not entirely of our choosing having been referenced by government departments and their official publications for many years.

 

Secured by Design is a crime reduction initiative supported and operated by all forces to demonstrate the significant benefit of blending environmental design with physical security standards. Alternative models from other well meaning agencies have failed through lack of resources. Our income generation is separate and is the only means of the project existing without public funding. We use the corporate title across most of our work streams for recognition and impact as any organisation would. Police forces use it for elements of their crime reduction work.

 

Hitherto the SBD home security project has been supported in local and central government policy and guidance as a means of getting a realistic and research proven level of security into the housing sector. Government Circular 5/94, various PPG planning guidance, the Home Office / DCLG guide ‘Safer Places –Crime Prevention and the Planning System’ all promoted SBD as an effective model. These documents have all been removed as part of the ‘red tape challenge’ to streamline planning to encourage the construction sector to build more homes. However, in future local authorities may only utilise projects and guidance such as ours if they are signposted by a relevant government department. That is the effect and reason for our inclusion in the HSR proposal. Otherwise the route to apply SBD, the only recognised security standard, is eroded.

 

The HSR proposals are the product of contributions by many organisations and the emerging consensus is that door and window security should be made compulsory and supported by standards… The DCLG may only reference British and European Standards, but recognises that there are equivalent standards under LPS and ST standards which the SBD model accepts when accompanied by ongoing test certification which ensures production lines maintain standards year on year. TheDCLG/HSR does not require certification and the British Standards do not cater for some types of door configuration, such as communal entrance doors, which the other standards do. Secured by Design therefore broadens availability whilst meeting or exceeding the DCLG standard. SBD is not compulsory but many builders are seeing security and SBD as customer added value. Therefore to acknowledge that SBD is compliant with the proposed regulation leaves it open for those organisations, particularly the police service, who wish to negotiate a wider security benefit with the builder.

 

You asked for an outline of our expenditure. I am now able to give the 2013/14 figures, hence the short delay in my reply, for which I apologise.

Income from all sources £1,304,376. With expenditure as follows:

Salaries £719K (56% of expenditure) 13 staff  Includes 2 seconded police officers and 3 administrative office staff seconded from ACPO all on full cost recovery.

Office rent and services from  ACPO: £67.6K

Marketing, publicity material, exhibitions: £155.7K (12%)

Conferences / meetings / exhibitions  to support police interaction with commercial security sectors £34K

National Training Event for 130 police crime prevention specialists  £63K (free places for each  police force, including  Scotland,)

SBD Awards and grants  £17.1K (grants to Neighbourhood Watch, Capel Manor Secure Garden exhibition, Safer Parking Scheme)

Research: £10K p.a.  (50%  joint funding with Home Office – 4 year EngD crime & environment.)

Specialist support to police forces : £34K (fees to external experts  to cover for  staff absence/workload peaks)

External Audit: £5K

IT: £10.9K

Bad debt: £25K (loss of contracted membership fees  due to insolvencies.)

New web site & new company  administrative  database,  design &  development  £70.5K (capitalised  as  asset)

 

Remainder  covers company  general operating expenses, travel & subsistence, telecoms, replace company cars, servicing, repairs & renewals, business  insurances ( professional indemnity/public  liability/ vehicle/staff).

Corporation Tax of £9.1K was paid  on  a surplus of £23K.

 

Reserves are based on full contingency for staff redundancies and all creditors to include return of any remaining balance of current year membership fees in the event that we ceased to trade, thereby removing risk or financial embarrassment to the police service or any associated official organisation.

I trust this assists and have no problem with you sharing our discussion on your website..

Yours sincerely,

Alan.

 

 

Alan McInnes,
Director & General Manager

ACPO Crime Prevention Initiatives Limited  (t/a ACPO Secured by Design)

Registered in England & Wales No:3816000. VAT Reg. No. 740 3703 61
Registered office: First Floor, 10 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0NN

 

 


 

 

From: Salmon Christopher Police & Crime Commissioner
To: alan mcinnes
Sent: Thursday, 30 October 2014, 10:54
Subject: RE: ACPO Secured by Design & Housing Standards Review

 

Dear Mr. McInnes,

 

Thank you for your prompt reply. I understand that these issues go beyond the Housing Standards Review, and that many relate to the legacy of former police governance arrangements. I am grateful for your explanation.

 

The use of an external agency did not particularly concern me, except that it highlighted the interests involved. What does concern me is that SbD is seeking specific reference to itself in legislation which protects its status, despite having no statutory basis. It creates a privileged position in which SbD both creates the rules as a quasi-official body, and generates income off the back of them as a company. I am aware that the review does not apply to Wales but these habits tend to cross the border.

 

I am not clear from the information you sent me how much income is generated each year, how and what it is spent on. I would be grateful if you could share that.

 

Would you object to sharing this exchange on my website by way of explanation to my earlier concerns?

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Christopher

 

 

Christopher Salmon

Comisiynydd, Swyddfa Comisiynydd Heddlu a Throseddu

Commissioner, Police & Crime Commissioner’s Office

 

Rhif ffôn/Phone: 01267 226440
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From: alan mcinnes
Sent: 28 October 2014 14:17
To: Salmon Christopher Police & Crime Commissioner
Subject: ACPO Secured by Design & Housing Standards Review

 

 

Dear Mr Salmon,

Thank you for your response to my email and the opportunity to set out the position of Secured by Design. You raise issues far wider than the Housing Standards Review, which I should point out at the outset does not apply in Dyfed-Powys or the rest of Wales. To put this all into context  I felt it might be helpful if I gave some of the background  to our work and why we operate as  registered (not for profit) company.

Secured by Design dates from 1989 when all police forces agreed to support this burglary initiative to promote designing out crime and physical security to encourage the construction industry to improve security in the built environment. It has had the support of the Home Office and the predecessors of the DCLG since that time through both policy and planning guidance.

Whilst proven to reduce crime by considerable independent research, the financing of project development and publicity material was problematic and in 1999 with support of all chief police officers and the Home Office, ACPO Crime Prevention Initiatives was established to manage the project, raise funds and invest any surplus in crime prevention activity, primarily within forces. It obviously cannot not pay dividends and has never paid any chief officer for their time (or expenses) as a director. A key issue is that as a company we are able to hold trademark, copyright and contracts and are able to defend them without recourse to public funds. I note that the College of Policing is also a registered company and there are parallels in other public sector areas.

ACPO has been the sole shareholder, our accounts are externally audited and published; we are subject to the Freedom of Information Act and registered with the FCA and Data Protection Commissioner. Our governance is through Directors drawn from chief police officers, including Policing Scotland. A briefing on our activities was sent to all PCC’s shortly after their inauguration.

We do not receive any public money and repay the police service and ACPO for any facilities used including office space. Currently we have two seconded police officers working with us and we repay full costs to the forces from which they come. Since 1999 we have raised income by recognising security products which pass tests to show they have significant crime prevention benefit. The security products from around 450 companies are not just for burglary prevention or building security but a benefit to the consumer in the widest sense. Importantly there is no obligation to use these products through our guidance documents. It is the standards we support.

The income finances our operation and is only used to support crime prevention projects, research and publicity in police forces around the country. For example, we are currently proving financial assistance to over a dozen forces with the provision of staff to undertake SbD work as funding within those forces is not available. I am not aware that your force has taken advantage of that funding stream which is disappointing as through this medium alone we have been putting over £50k a year back into police crime prevention across the country. In addition, we are 50% financing a PhD placement at the Home Office to investigate the part crime impacts the environment through carbon emissions and we hold the only annual training events for police crime prevention specialists and provide two free places to each force, including your own. Were we not to do this, in the present difficult financial environment there would be no crime prevention CPD training for officers at all.

It is unfair to suggest that we have carved out a preferential role as you claim for commercial reasons. We with other organisations were contributors to the Housing Standards Review (HSR) representing the police service interests in security and burglary prevention, particularly regarding emerging forms of attack. Whilst Secured by Design covers design features which can influence crime and a range of security issues covering just about every security risk in buildings, the HSR has identified just one of our many dozens of standards to feature in draft Building Regulations for doors and windows.  A significant number of homes are built using local police Secured by Design advice and the HSR has therefore noted our compliance with the proposed Regulation. From what you say in your letter, I am sure that you will support the need for ongoing local activity to reduce and prevent burglary in homes and that all the practical application of Secured by Design is undertaken by local police officers. We are just a focal point to develop and promote the project without the need for taxpayers money (which frankly has not been and is not available to support the project)

To reassure you, the project is in effect owned by each police force and with the impending departure of ACPO the practical ownership and direction from chief police officers will continue through the College of Policing, the National Policing Leads and Chief Constables Council.

Secured by Design also has a significant reputation in itself in that our small team is regularly consulted by public bodies to assist in matters of security, technical standards and advice to the public. You may recall that the 2012 Olympic legacy sites were required to be accredited by us.  We are currently contributing to discussions with National Assembly for Wales as to how our standards might influence the private rented housing sector and enhance its long standing support for Secured by Design in social housing in Wales. We are also copied and referenced internationally by government and academic institutions.

Again from what you say in your letter, you clearly appreciate the benefits and rationale of SbDbut it maybe that you were unsighted on the way we operate and how we support the initiative. I hope this letter has helped explain that.

I am sorry if the use of an external agency to seek to enshrine SbD in the planning system caused you concern. It was simply an issue of our limited resources and the need to use our income to the best effect. I am happy to acknowledge that we are worried about the potential impact of a weakening of the need for effective crime prevention in the planning regime and we could not sit back and risk SbD being overlooked. As I said earlier, SbD is about standards and about standards which have been shown to reduce crime. The only vehicle we have to help do that is ACPO CPI and that is a corporate convenience in terms of how the initiative can be supported without public money and little more.

I think that it is fair to say that in the light of the changes within ACPO, once the dust has settled the service will need to look at how it wants to support SbD in the new environment. It may well be that in trying to emphasise the police service based nature of what we do the structure of the business may better suit a community interest company but given we generate income from the private sector to reinvest in policing any changes will need to be considered carefully.

I attach a copy of our last audited accounts and would be happy to meet to discuss any of the matters you have raised, but rest assured we are a police project for the reduction of crime.

 

Yours sincerely,
Alan McInnes.
Director & General Manager

ACPO Crime Prevention Initiatives Limited  (t/a ACPO Secured by Design)

Registered in England & Wales No:3816000. VAT Reg. No. 740 3703 61
Registered office: First Floor, 10 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0NN


Dear Mr. McInnes,

Thank you for your email. I am afraid to say it strikes me as highly questionable that Secured by Design should be seeking to carve out a preferential role for itself in legislation, using its police association and an implied threat to crime rates as leverage.

Secured by Design is a commercial entity and a subsidiary of ACPO, itself a private limited company. Both stand to benefit directly from lobbying efforts conducted under the banner of crime prevention. Nowhere is that conflict of interest made clear. I have no intention of endorsing what appears as little more than an attempt to secure privileged commercial position in planning policy. My submission to DCLG will make clear the importance of those conflicts.

I would also be grateful for a full copy of your accounts, an explanation of your business model and your governance arrangements, membership and structure. ACPO, after all, has been publicly funded.  Presumably all its subsidiaries have benefited from some form of public support, in kind or otherwise. ACPO has been scrapped but Secured by Design may continue, in which case its exact provenance should be made transparent.

I have no objection to the principle of designing things with crime prevention in mind. I have a very great objection to private enterprises trading on public service reputations to secure themselves preferential markets.

Since you have not emailed me in person, I have no means of replying to you directly. I am publishing this response and your letter instead.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Salmon

Christopher Salmon

Comisiynydd, Swyddfa Comisiynydd Heddlu a Throseddu

Commissioner, Police & Crime Commissioner’s Office

Rhif ffôn/Phone: 01267 226440
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From: Jonathan Greenberg
Sent: 20 October 2014 15:37
To: opcc
Subject: Secured by Design – Housing Standards Review Consultation

 

Message on behalf of Alan McInnes, General Manager of Secured by Design:

Dear Mr Salmon,

I wanted to get in touch following my previous letter to you regarding the Housing Standards Review to update you on the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) latest consultation which was launched on 12th September, and the impact these proposals will have for crime rates in your area.

Throughout the review we have been engaged in discussions with DCLG to ensure that crime prevention remains a core feature of housing standards. I am delighted to inform you that the DCLG’s latest proposals for security standards in new homes reflect the views expressed by Secured by Design and many other stakeholders; this positive step will ensure that all local authorities can protect residents from crime in the future.

The DCLG’s revised costings rightly show that implementing security standards is relatively inexpensive and does not place much burden on developers. The department’s approach will make the process even simpler for developers, which will support a boost in house building without compromising the security of residents. Furthermore, this approach will help to mainstream crime prevention and foster a competitive market for security which, in turn, will boost innovation and drive down costs even further.

I would add that whilst DCLG should be commended on these proposals, it is important that as part of any plans, an independent and transparent group is set up to keep security standards under review in order to adapt to the ever changing modus operandi of offenders. We believe that Secured by Design, in partnership with the academic community and others, would be best able to lead this agenda. We will be making this point to the department.

The DCLG’s latest consultation can be found (here) and details of the revised approach are set out in a new requirement for security, Part Q (here). I have included a few points on the proposals below for your information.

However, these proposals are not final and there is still work to do ahead of the consultation deadline. With this in mind, we would be extremely grateful if you would be kind enough to submit a response to the DCLG firmly supporting the latest proposals ahead of the deadline on 7th November. I attach a template consultation response which you might wish to use for ease, but please do let me know if you require any further information or assistance.

Responses can be submitted to DCLG via an online form (here), by email at [email protected] or by post at Housing Standards Review Team, Department for Communities and Local Government, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF.

Once again, thank you for your support.

Kind regards,

Alan McInnes

DCLG’s current approach proposes the following:

  • Security should be based on the provisions of British Standard PAS 24 and applied as a national mandatory requirement to all new homes
  • A new requirement, Part Q , would be introduced into Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations
  • The DCLG notes that alternative approaches that can be shown to achieve an equivalent or better performance would also be acceptable
  • Within the consultation draft of ‘Approved Document Q: Security’, DCLG cite Secured by Design as also meeting the provisions

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More Statistics. More Lies?

Crime rises 17%!

Crime is down 15%!

A third of crime is not recorded!

Lies, damn lies and statistics. Never has it seemed more apt. What should we believe?

Crime rises 17%!

Crime in Wales is not up 17% in the last four years. That headline is based on sloppy BBC reporting. The survey sample they quote is too small to draw firm conclusions.

It’s a great headline but it’s wrong – the kind of fiddle you’d expect from politicians like me, not those tribunes of truth at the BBC. Of course not them.

I’ve looked at the BBC figures for violence, robbery, theft and criminal damage and pasted the graphs below.

 

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Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) – E&W figures

 

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CSEW – Wales only figures (not statistically significant)

 

Crime is down 15%!

The overall survey figures for all England and Wales, are statistically significant. They do show crime is down 15%. They are not fiddled by the police. Nor, in this case, by journalists.

A third of crime is not recorded!

We known for some time that the police have not been recording crime properly. Now an inspection proves it. About 1/3 of crimes reported to Dyfed Powys Police which should be recorded are not. That means rather than 18,600 crimes each year, we might have nearer 27,000. That’s a big difference and it needs careful investigation.

Dyfed Powys has more antisocial behaviour incidents than crime, according to the figures. Are the police recording things as antisocial behaviour, which should be crime? That is a conversation I have already begun.

So, where does that leave us?

Lies, damn lies and statistics.

Surveys tell us that crime overall is falling.

We suspect that crime is changing. It is moving from the street into the home and from the real to the virtual world. We know a lot of this is not reported.

We can say that, even though there appears to be less crime about, the police need to record more of it. There are signs, nationwide, that they are.

And we can also say that crime trends in Wales and Dyfed Powys are not much different to crime trends across the UK.

That is what I will focus our attention on in the coming months. We’ve got rid of the targets. I’m prepared to see recorded crime rise. Officers have no reason not to record crimes fairly. Now we need to see the change.

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Can Big Brother afford to watch you?

Is Big Brother broke? I’ve been grappling with this question repeatedly since Ceredigion County Council switched off their CCTV at the beginning of this year.

Powys switched theirs off several years ago. Carmarthenshire spends nearly quarter of a million pounds a year on CCTV; Pembrokeshire spends about £150,000. Some of the difference in approach is to do with circumstances such as population, crime habits, economic factors. But not all.

Ceredigion’s decision caused a huge amount of upset. Councillors feared crime would rise. Anti-social behaviour would go uncovered. I must admit I was concerned about that too.

Contrary to many people’s expectations, Dyfed Powys police have never funded CCTV. I believe the same is true for other forces. But a wide perception exists that CCTV is a police thing. In some places the police do provide help in kind, like office space or equipment to monitor screens. Generally, CCTV is council – county, town or community – owned and run.

As PCC, I inherited some funding for CCTV from the Home Office. At the moment I contribute £44,000 to Carmarthenshire but none elsewhere. I now have to decide what to do with my share. Local councils have to decide what to do as their funding shrinks.

What has become clear from our research is that CCTV does little to deter crime in most parts of Dyfed Powys. It can be useful in helping the police investigate crime. It can be useful in securing prosecutions. But most of the CCTV used for convictions is privately owned, from bars, clubs or shopping centres. CCTV can, in some circumstances, increase confidence but usually people get used to it and ignore it.

There does not appear to have been any noticeable effect on crime and antisocial behaviour in Powys linked to CCTV being switched off. I am not aware of one in Ceredigion, yet, although it may be too early to tell.

When you look at the history, it becomes clear that CCTV is there because the money was there. Central government made millions – £170m between 1999 and 2003 – available for CCTV across the UK. So, millions was spent on CCTV across the UK.

What is also clear is that CCTV is not about crime. It is about culture. We are the most observed society in Western Europe. Anyone who has been listening to Neil MacGregor’s fascinating history of Germany on Radio 4, might have heard his observations of Friedrichstrasse Station on Berlin’s underground. It has no CCTV. None. Why? Because the Germans are very suspicious of a snooping state, after their experience under the Stasi.

Britain has no such history. Perhaps we trust our authorities more? Or perhaps we rely on a reassuring degree of official bungling to prevent them becoming too efficient with their power, not something the Germans can rely on? I leave it to you to judge.

Even if we trust our CCTV, can we afford it? Whatever government is in power, we expect to have to find as many savings in the next Parliament as we have in this, which is around 20%. Our councils face the same, with the added complication of reorganisations. That means we will have work more closely. We will have to find ways not just to save us money, but to save each other money.

To save sensibly we will have to look at what works, like CCTV. That is exactly what we will be doing in the coming weeks. If something doesn’t do what we expect it to, can we afford to keep it?

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Firearms Licensing. Handle with Care.

The tragic evidence revealed by the trial of John Lowe in Surrey remind us what a difficult job policing firearms is.

Mid-Wales has the highest number of firearms licenses per head in the country. That is not surprising given the nature of the area. Farmers, gamekeepers, huntsmen and hobbyists all have a right to hold legal, licensed weapons. Many depend on these licenses for a living.

On the other hand the public have a right to be protected. Dyfed Powys Police are responsible for vetting licenses. They must balance the rights of license holders against the risk to public safety. That is no small task.

I have watched the outcome of the Lowe trial, and the clear anguish of the family with great sympathy and interest. I do not know whether the police did or didn’t follow proper processes. With the benefit of hindsight, the decision to return Mr. Lowe’s guns was a mistake. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.

We must resist the temptation to assume that all these events can be prevented. You cannot legislate for everything. Good policy means balancing rights and responsibilities.

We must not penalise the farmer who needs his shotgun for the actions of a single disturbed individual. Nor should we penalise those within the police who must balance those rights against unknowable risks to public safety. You cannot eliminate all risk. When you try, you usually create some other, unseen, risk.

By far the majority of complaints I receive relating to firearms are about over-zealous policing. What this tells us is that the police are painfully aware of the importance of their decisions.

Some complaints are fanciful but some have merit. The licensing process can be cautious to the point of absurdity and fearful to the point of paralysis. The result is a bureaucracy where people are terrified of a mistake and a slave to process. That clouds judgement. And all these decisions come down to judgement in the end.

Our best hope of avoiding tragedy is to keep a clear head. We have to trust license holders to act responsibly. And we have to trust the police to exercise their judgement. There will be mistakes. But there will be fewer mistakes in a thoughtful atmosphere than an accusing one.

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