The following responses are in regard to questions I have been asked by correspondents. In addition I responded to an item in the Guardian on 31st January which asked 10 questions.
Q – Ian, a number of your endorsements seem to come from faith groups, and yet I have not yet come across a statement on your part as to how your faith, if you hold one, would inform your work as PCC in the event of your being elected. Could you direct me to a statement addressing this issue, or respond here? Thank you in advance for your reply.
A – I am happy to respond to this as the question is really important. I have been actively involved in a local Church all of my adult life, and have worked within the church to ensure we do all we can to be good citizens and support the people in our city where we have something to offer. However most of my endorsements that come from within the faith communities do so because I have worked in a professional capacity for the last 11 years to create links between churches and other faith groups and statutory agencies. Having done a reasonably good job I am thrilled to say I have the support of many of those I have worked for, sadly many of those who would provide me with an endorsement from within statutory sector organisations such as Police and Local Government are prevented from speaking on my behalf due to the political nature of the role. The role of PCC is not one that is connected in any way to my current role, except that I have built links to Local Government and Sussex Police whilst carrying it out. I do have a number of endorsements from people who have no personal connection with any faith. A PCC is a role that will have no faith dimension to it and I am not standing to fulfil any form of religious quest.
Q – Will someone please tell the public what the PCC can actually do for them !
A – I hope they will create stronger links between the Police and other organisations who exist to provide services for us, whilst helping us to better understand our role in ensuring that our communities are safe and good places to live. Also to be a person you can speak to when the system simply doesn’t work as it should (or you hope it will). However the role of the PCC is not to replace any of the current functions of the Police on a day to day basis.
Q – How can we get more involved in your campaign
A – I have a page dedicated to that on my website
Q – You are clearly someone who has a wide range of interests – how can we be sure that you will give this new role your full attention.
A – We need a Police Commissioner who is prepared to make this role his or her 100% commitment (I do not believe that this role is one that is appropriate for a part-time applicant, even though the Government has made provision for this possibility). Since October 2011 I have been in the process of gradually reducing my many work and voluntary commitments and if elected on 15th November I will lay down the final elements, leaving me free to dedicate all of my working time to this vital role. Opportunities like this do not arise frequently and it is vital that all 41 PCCs across England and Wales are willing to ensure that the role has their full, undistracted attention.
Q – Asked by a member of Police Staff, do you support privatisation? Have you the power to say no?
A – The second is easy, no major change to the organisation which involves strategic contracts could possibly be adopted by a Chief Constable alone, so the answer is yes, I have the power to say no. However I have no expectation of any such issue ever being a matter where the PCC and CC could get to a different page in terms of their plans and ideas for the Force. The first question is less absolute. There may be circumstances where a clear case can be made for improving the running of the Police Force by the use of private enterprise. I cannot forsee this, but I would not rule it out entirely. That said I believe that many public services depend on a 24/365 response and the Police are one of the clearest examples of this. Private enterprise can rarely offer that level of certainty and the G4S failure at London 2012 is a classic example. They failed to deliver and in their view it was a contract issue, in the view of the nation it was the games will not go ahead unless a backstop is found. A friend of mine wrote recently “Contracting out leads to short-termism and to an even greater focus on delivering particular targets rather than joined up solutions. There may be public services where you can engage the community and contract the services out to the private sector, but policing is not one of them.” I subscribe to that view.