A Tory ‘Independent’ and an ‘Independent’ Tory

The election for a Police and Crime Commissioner isn’t supposed to be particularly controversial. In Warwickhire we have three candidates at the moment  - Ron Ball, Fraser Pithie and James Plaskitt.

Ron Ball is standing as an Independent. He was recently making noises to the local press about how it was wrong that the other candidates were political, representing political parties, and that he was untainted by such associations.

Turns out that he’s been a member of the Conservative Party for years, and tried to get them to nominate him as their candidate. Instead they chose Fraser Pithie.

Fraser Pithie claims also to be not ‘political’, despite the fact that he’s been an elected councillor in the past, and also having recently said that the PCC elections could be used to boost the fortunes of local Conservative MPs and candidates.

There was another Independent candidate, Andrew Moss. Moss is the only candidate to have been a full time serving police officer (Pithie has been a ‘Special’), and recently withdrew in favour of Ron Ball to avoid splitting the independent vote. I wonder how he feels now, knowing what has been revealed about the political past of Mr Ball?

In the meantime, James Plaskitt is the only other  choice, and the only one of the current candidates who is not a Tory. He’s not hiding his political past – he was MP for Leamington & Warwick for 13 years, so it’s pretty obvious. He is also clearly against the current government policies of cuts and increased private involvement in policing.

Police and Crime Commissioner isn’t supposed to back policies that risk more crime

The Tories have unveiled their candidate for the Warwickshire Police & Crime Commissioner. It is Fraser Pithie.

There are currently two major issues around crime and policing in the county. First of all the 20% funding cuts from central government have already led to decreasing numbers of officers, affecting community (and beat) policing. In the last year, burglary rates have shot up in Rugby, and it can’t be ruled out that there is a link.

Fraser Pithie supports these cuts, which seem to be leading to more crime. Read the rest of this entry »

Police cuts… Crime rises… Who could predict it?

I know it’s been ages since my last post. I’ve been feeling disillusioned with the internet and bogging of late, and have been pretty busy in real life, so let it slip.

But I saw this today that just shows how the Coalition Government’s cuts may be having a directly negative effect:
Police departures led to surge in crime (Rugby Observer)

Basically, Warwickshire Police are faced with having to make massive cuts. To help them manage, they moved experienced officers from Rugby to Nuneaton to cover gaps. But after that happened, the incidence of home burglaries in Rugby leapt up by about 75%. So they ended up having to bring some of them back again.

Which is fine for Rugby, for now, in that the effect was pretty quick and crime went down again. But it strikes me that other parts of the County will be lacking full cover as a result.

When the Tories (backed by their yellow pals) went for 20% cuts in policing, they claimed it could be done without affecting the front line and that predictions of an effect on crime was ‘scaremongering’. But the evidence suggests that, as senior officers themselves said at the time, the cuts are forcing the Police to make tough decisions, with some areas losing vital cover.

Mast Site plans

Last night I went to the Eastlands & Hillmorton Community Forum meeting at the Hillmorton school. These are organised to bring together the County Council, Borough Council and Police to discuss issues with local people. Every three months, for example, the local beat officers present updates on their work and there’s a discussion about the three areas they should prioritise for the next three months.

There were a lot of people there who wanted to talk about the proposals for development to the East of the town, on the old radio mast sites. Read the rest of this entry »

Do the government hate the Police Service?

This ‘New Politics’ is weird. I’d expect that a Labour government might be accused of hostility towards the police by a senior member of the Police Federation. But a Tory-led government with a Tory Home Secretary?

At the same time, someone (nameless) in the Warwickshire Force has linked increased burglary and robbery rates in the last few months to cuts.

While there are things that the local force should do to cut costs (such as get rid of the white elephant that is their HQ at Leek Wootton), they are having to do far more. Stations are being closed or their hours cut. Neighbourhood policing will be based on PCSOs working in teams with only one police officer in charge, which means fewer officers with full powers on the beat.

Posted in Politics. Tags: . 11 Comments »

Warwickshire leading the way

The local police force is having to deal with a lot of flak over its cuts. I certainly can’t see how they will avoid making a massive difference to front line policing.

I heard that the neighbourhood policing would be pretty much left to PCSOs, with one police officer per team to supervise. We’ve already seen that some stations will close and others will have their public opening hous cut back, and that long serving coppers will be forced to retire.

Now it seems that Frontline police will be moved into office jobs. Why? Well, they are getting rid of a load of the civilian staff, but the work they do will still need doing, won’t it?

Apparently, according to last week’s Rugby Observer, the local Police Federation chair is wishing that his members had the power to strike.

Another bit of 80s nostalgia

Remember the 1980s? How about the race riots in places like Brixton and Toxteth and Handsworth? What was the spark for these riots? Well, it was the ‘sus laws’, and the use of them by the police to stop young black men, on ‘suspicion’. After the Scarman Report, the laws were abolished, for the very reason that they had contributed to massive problems between the police and local communities.

In 2008, David Cameron did say he would bring back similar powers to the police. Now he’s in power, the Home Office are issuing new guidance to allow race to be used as a reason to stop people.

This really needs to be reconsidered.

National Cuts, Local Effects

Each of the three main local news sites covering Rugby has an article pertinent to the round of cutbacks we are all going to be experiencing.

The Rugby Observer reports that the Police Station in town will only be open to the public from the front desk for 12 hours a day, starting next Monday (1 Nov). The Cov/Warks Telegraph highlights a study which suggests that between them, Coventry and Warwickshire will be losing 16,000 public sector jobs with nearly 40,000 more in the private sector put at risk. The report suggests that Warwickshire could be badly hit, and towns like Rugby and Stratford have vulnerable private firms.

Mind you, on the other side, the Advertiser brings news that Rugby Borough Council is hoping to replace the Ken Marriott Leisure Centre with a new facility. This was covered at the Cabinet meeting last week. There it was agreed to commit £200,000 of capital to investigating tenders for the project.

Now, as much as it would be great to have a new Leisure Centre, it seems a bit incongruous to spent a six-figure sum on a project that might not even go ahead, let alone the likely millions that the full build would require, at a time when the Government and councils are cutting spending.

At the same meeting, the Cabinet discussed (I say ‘discussed’, it was more nodded through) a report on the money stuck in Icelandic banks. Rugby had about £3M in two banks. Landsbanki, with about £1M is agreeing to pay back 95% of the money over the next eight years – as long as the overall plan is not successfully challenged by other creditors. In terms of lost interest and depreciation, this would represent a loss of about £400,000 by the time all the money is returned.

The other bank, Glitnir, had the remaining £2M, but the offer there is only 38%. The council are challenging that one, of course, but if it goes that way, the end result means that about half of the original £3M would be lost.

With that background, what are the Council going to use to pay for a new Leisure Centre?

Please provide own truncheon…

On one of my posts about the closure of Brinklow fire station, Mrs Wormwood joked that under the ‘Big Society’ we would all be asked to carry around buckets of water.

Seems that the Government – well at least the Tories – have a similar idea for policing. The cuts will see numbers of police reduced by 20-30,000, but don’t worry about crime or public order, because they’ve got a cunning plan – bring in more volunteers, otherwise known as ‘DIY policing’. Ironically, the idea is to model the retained fire fighters, which is the same system being slashed by the Tories at Warwickshire County Council to save money.

I’m sure that this will be properly thought through, though. I mean, it’s not like the Tories rushed the Academies Bill through the Commons as fast as possible to avoid it being scrutinised properly, is it?

Eh? Eh? Oh.

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