Tory police commissioner candidates for Devon and Cornwall have their say

The Conservative Party last week unveiled three candidates who will contest an open “primary” election to stand under the party banner to be Devon and Cornwall’s first Police and Crime Commissioner. Here, all three outline what they would bring to the job. To attend one of three events in the region contact 01395 233503 or visit www.policeselection.co.uk. Registration closes today at 4pm

Today’s police service and the new Police and Crime Commissioner face the double challenge of tackling rising crime and stringent budget cuts.

PAUL BIDDLE

I believe police and crime commissioners are fundamental to ensuring the police are accountable to local people. I believe an effective police force is evidenced not by how much it costs, or the number of police officers employed, but by how it protects the public it serves.

As a candidate, I will engage with the public to find out what matters to them and how we can make our communities safe from crime and antisocial behaviour.

I have lived in the region for many years, now in Devon, previously in Cornwall. During my career, I served in the regular Army and then in the TA, followed by 23 years in the Prison Service, where I worked in high-profile prisons such as Brixton and Dartmoor, with the Probation Service, Youth Offending Board and race equality agencies, as well as with the National Criminal Intelligence Service where I trained in sex offender intelligence. I worked with mental health practitioners and health care trusts, drug treatment workers, the Samaritans, local councils, housing and job centres, churches, synagogues, mosques and gudwaras, so I understand community safety.

I understand criminality and the causes of crime and have worked in magistrates’, county and high courts.

Towards the end of my Prison Service career, I was deployed to Iraq, to Palestine as head of mission to manage a joint US/UK monitoring team and to the UN office of drugs and crime in Kabul.

On retiring as a prison governor, I joined the UK Stabilisation Unit and have advised the Indonesian government on counter-terrorism, the Moldovan Justice Ministry and the Haitian government in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and escape of 5,000 prisoners. These roles have involved the administration of complex multi-million pound projects, often delivered under budget.

I believe that everyone has the right to feel safe on the streets and a right to feel safe in their home. I believe that the policing of rural and urban crime must be tackled differently.

My focus will be on four areas. Supporting the police in cutting crime, especially antisocial behaviour and rural crime. More visible policing and foot patrols in rural and urban communities. Value for money and improving delivery. Working with our elected officials and central government to tackle serious repeat offenders.

ALISON HERNANDEZ

I’m a local Conservative who was born, raised, educated, live and work here with my husband and five-year-old daughter.

When you’re a local Conservative from Devon, Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly you are immensely proud to be from such a beautiful and safe place that is the envy of many but I want to make it even safer.

And I will offer a fresh approach. I have a strong commitment to public service and the police and our police service is the envy of many too. But it needs to reform in these austere times to survive and thrive. I have already spent many years working with the police service to help make our community safer and the force more efficient. In common with you, I understand the crime and safety issues where we live, the impact they have and the expectation that the police should do better.

I’m electable. As an experienced campaigner, understanding the concerns of the community is paramount and this helped me win an election for the Conservatives before, beating a long-standing Lib-Dem of 18 years.

I’m credible. I can make a positive difference to the lives of local people. Under my leadership I have turned around an underperforming strategic partnership (focused on tackling crime and the causes of crime) into one of the fastest improving in the country. I’ve also regenerated a derelict park into a local and regional award winning space while reducing antisocial behaviour, where families and people of all ages now go to enjoy safely.

I can communicate. My communication skills are highly developed and I’m adept at using traditional and modern methods. My recent national award for ‘Online Councillor of the Year 2012’ means that I can reach the parts that other candidates cannot reach.

I will make Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly safer by working with you to fight crime, as an experienced campaigner, relentlessly reducing crime and improving policing.

I will get better value for your money by taking a fresh approach, challenging the status quo and working with partners to reduce the demand on the council tax precept and help control escalating police costs.

I will create a more responsive and agile police force that protects those most at risk and promotes confidence that we are here to serve everyone in need.

TONY HOGG

Elected police and crime commissioners have the potential to cut crime by bringing policing closer to communities, to strengthen accountability and replace central direction from Whitehall with local priorities. But we will only see these benefits if the right candidate wins the job.

I am putting myself forward in this election because I am ready for a new challenge and I have the right experience to make a success of the job. I trained at Dartmouth and captained five ships often based in Devonport. I led the 3,000-strong naval air base at Culdrose, managing an annual budget of £81 million. I saw active service in the Falklands and was decorated for helicopter rescues; I am used to assessing risks. But I was also chief executive of BF Adventure, a specialist outdoor education charity near Penryn, which helps to turn around the lives of troubled young people and I got a real buzz from helping them back into the mainstream.

The police are facing a unique period of change. We need to achieve more with less and I want to offer clear and effective leadership to boost morale at a difficult time. We need clarity of purpose and a culture where everyone pulls their weight and I have experience of creating such a culture.

I would maximise police visibility and strengthen neighbourhood policing. I want to develop more effective ‘watch’ schemes and introduce more special constables.

We need early intervention to keep young people out of prison and I would also like to see a branch of the police cadets in every major town to link with schools, provide role models and give whole families greater respect for the police.

It offends me when decent people fear crime. I want a society where people take responsibility for their actions and where those who commit crime fear the police. I will be a champion for the victims of crime and stand up for those who feel that their voice is not being heard.

It is your choice but I am appealing for your support to help me make the promise of this new role a reality.

Western Morning News