Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 6 September 2012


Can you name the chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority, the body that oversees our local police force? Thought not. This is one of the reasons why the government is introducing elected Police and Crime Commissioners for every police force – to have somebody elected by the people of the area who helps set the priorities and strategic direction for the police and who is accountable to the public. He or she will work closely with the Chief Constable in helping to deliver the kind of policing we want, and if we don't get it, will doubtless be voted out of office. The current Police Authorities will be dismantled.

In November this year you will be asked to pop into your local polling station to vote for one of the candidates standing for this new position in Devon and Cornwall. By then you should have received leaflets from all candidates setting out their stall and there will be a website that will tell you all you need to know about them. Some of them are experienced individuals of the highest quality. We all expect turnout to be low, as this will be a new stand alone election in the foothills of winter, but it is important to make the effort to vote. The successful person will have a lot of say in how our area is policed.

We are fortunate to live in a relatively low crime area, but there are still hotspots and incidents which cast a shadow over an otherwise peaceful location. The sporadic spurt of burglaries, neighbours from hell pushing drugs, anti-social behaviour of a pack of youngsters roaming the streets at the weekends, all these unacceptable events bring pain to our communities and need to be tackled.

All of this comes against the backdrop of a reducing budget because of the dire financial state of public finances.  It is also a time when the police force is facing significant internal change following recommendations from an independent expert who has recently completed a far-reaching report into structures and working practices. I broadly support these reforms because although we all love and respect our boys in blue, a healthy dose of modernisation would improve performance.

Elected commissioners will not solve every policing problem we face, but they should improve the accountability to the public of our law enforcers. This can only be a good thing. Once November comes along, please don't forget to vote.

posted by Gary @ 09:26