Despite some controversies around Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) at the time they were introduced, the Labour Party contested the elections. In my acceptance speech, I stated I would do the very best I could to make the role work for the benefit of residents in Cleveland and work with all who wished to make the Cleveland area a safer and better place to live.
This included, within a very short space of time: establishing an office; determining a budget; drawing up a Police & Crime Plan; and appointing a permanent Chief Constable, amongst various other challenges.
My office consists of a small team of dedicated and committed people, who have worked tirelessly to assist me. Working with the Force, I have developed a medium-term financial plan which has given stability and certainty.
My Police & Crime Plan has been widely accepted and is being successfully implemented. I have appointed a Chief Constable who is widely recognised as an innovator and we are making progress on various fronts, and with much co-operation, despite a relentless and unprecedented level of financial cuts imposed by government, here and elsewhere.
Since election I have worked with a whole range of agencies and organisations and have brought people together around the priorities that matter to the public - around improving policing; better support for victims; tackling offending and preventing reoffending; collaboration and partnership working; good industrial and community relations. I have attended 200 meetings with community groups and organisations, and engaged with many local politicians of all parties and none in the best interests of local residents.
This is a demanding and significant full-time role. The post-holder has the opportunity to hold the Chief Constable and others to account and to develop and influence a community safety agenda for the Cleveland area and beyond. Despite ever-increasing demands and ever-declining resources we have made progress.
The PCC model has flaws - around conduct of elections and byelections; the scrutiny process is limited and inflexible; and a very small minority of PCCs have on occasions shown poor judgement.
The Shadow Home Secretary has announced Labour will abolish PCCs and develop an alternative.
I will support any alternative which improves on the PCC model.
However, this must be a model which won't cost £millions in yet more transition costs; which has the authority to properly hold the Chief Constable and others to account; which can engage on a daily basis with partners and the community; which can lead and develop a community safety agenda, where necessary and otherwise get things done; and which is known and always accessible to the community.
Most important of all, it must be a model which takes us forwards and not backwards.
PCC for Cleveland
Posted on Sunday 21st September 2014