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.