Following the recent blog posting about those who are seeking to become Police and Crime Commissioners, and a comment by Dave Powell about a public meeting in Camberley held by prospective Surrey PCCS, Dave attended and has written the following report…
In the event, I stayed, and sat through the meeting of the candidates for the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner at Camberley Working Mens’ Club last night, 22nd October. Not knowing what level of turnout there would be, I went armed with 8 questions, some of which had been suggested by ‘Old and Bold’ers. The turn out was quite high and it soon became obvious that there would only be an opportunity of asking one, or two questions at the most, so I chose two and submitted Denis’s suggestion about the candidates’ definition of ‘the front line’ and bearing in mind Theresa May’s statement of the role of the Police, how would they deal with partnership agencies making non-crime demands on the Police?
Each of the candidates were given 5 minutes to put their case before the floor being opened to questions. Some were more nervous than others but all appeared to be prepared for the evening and had done their homework. For those who know Bob, or as he is now known, Robert, Shatwell, he has nothing to be ashamed of and aquitted himself well, putting some very relevant, and interesting, points forward.
When a submitted question was read out by the chairperson, each of the candidates took it in turn to answer first, being restricted to 2 minutes. This meant that for each question, one candidate had to answer straight away while the others had up to 10 minutes to formulate their answer. When my (or rather, Denis’s) question was read out, I felt that it was not properly answered, with some of the candidates going off on tangents. The general consensus seemed to be that the ‘front line’ began and ended with the bobby on the beat, while steps would be taken to bring other agencies into line with Police priorities, though no mention was made of how this would happen, possibly because of the time restriction.
Unfortunately, time was the overall winner, and I never had the opportunity of putting my other question, “It has been suggested that the imposition of a Police and Crime Commissioner is nothing more than a cynical political smoke and mirrors exercise by the Government to politicise the Police service and will do little, if anything at all, to improve the quality of life of Surrey residents. Would the candidates care to respond to that?” That is one question I would have loved to have heard an answer to. Because of the time scale there was also no opportunity to challenge any of the earlier answers.
Who would I vote for? The meeting was chaired by Sylvia Heal, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. A gracious, friendly, lady who did her job in a calm, efficient, and humourous manner. If she had been standing, I would have been tempted to vote for her!”