On the wall of Llanidloes Town Council chamber is a copy of a charter from Elizabeth I. It grants liberties to the town and the right to “seize all robbers, murderers and wrongdoers… [up to] one league from boundaries” of the town.
Opposite are a row of pikes from the town’s militia. Oak panels cover the walls, with pictures from the town’s life. The chamber is clean and well kept. It looks out on to the market square. This must one of the finest civic buildings in Wales.
I was visiting to discuss the town’s police station with local councillors. As elsewhere in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys, I have committed to improving local police stations. I want them to reflect local pride. And I want them to reflect the pride we, rightly, feel in our police.
We had constructive discussions. I’m determined Llanidloes will keep its police station, as will other towns. I have committed to ensuring that all communities retain their police base, even where we have to move locations.
Why have I done this? Because at the heart of our approach to policing in Britain is a very simple principle. That is, the police – like government itself – are the servants not the masters of the people. Police officers serve communities, not governments. They belong to those communities. That’s what the Llanidloes charter says.
That principle is a foundation of our liberty, our laws and our justice. I believe it is our single greatest national inheritance. I want to use its great power to make our towns and villages even safer.
I will continue to prioritise local officers and PCSOs, to cut bureaucracy and support local decisions.
I want to see much more of the public in policing. If I am re-elected I will ensure that every town, village or community that wants a dedicated Special Constable, with full police powers, gets one – the return of the village bobby in modern form. I want to see them on our streets in the next few years.
These committed volunteers already serve alongside regulars across Dyfed Powys. While we cannot afford to put a police officer in every village, we can support local people who want to give something back to their community and build their skills along the way. Special Constables represent a long history of organised public involvement in keeping communities safe.
I will expand Community Speed Watch schemes, which give local people and police the chance to tackle problem driving together. They already work in Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, with more planned for Carmarthenshire and Powys. I am proud they are proving so popular.
We are lucky to live in such a safe part of the world – the safest, in fact, in Britain. But we must not forget that rural areas look beautiful but can hide real problems. I want to ensure that we protect our poorest areas and communities where crime does most damage. I want us to prevent crime by tackling the small things early – before they become the big things.
That is why I’m putting your local officer at the heart of my plan for safer communities. If it was good enough for Elizabeth I, it’s good enough for me!
If you support that plan, please vote for Christopher Salmon on May 5th.