North Yorkshire will head to the polls on Thursday (25 November) to elect a new Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
The five candidates are:
- Dr Hannah Barham-Brown (Women’s Equality Party)
- James Barker (Liberal Democrats)
- Zoe Metcalfe (Conservatives)
- Emma Scott-Spivey (Labour)
- Keith Tordoff (Independent)
The announcement of the election results will take place this Friday (26 November) – the day after voters go to the polls.
URY (University Radio York) invited all of the candidates for an interview.
Only Zoe Metcalfe said she was was unavailable to take part. The student run station filmed each interview which lasted around ten minutes.
Two subjects were top of the agenda.
One was violence against women along with trust in the police, all coming after the shocking Sarah Everard murder in London.
The other was the spiking of drinks, and the cases involving injection, while people were out with friends at clubs and bars.
What the candidates said
Inquiry into misogyny
Hannah Barham-Brown, who is standing for the Women’s Equality Party, has said: “As a GP, the deputy leader of the Women’s Equality Party and as a queer, disabled woman myself, I have years of campaigning experience and a lifetime of lived experience when it comes to women’s safety and freedom.
“I am determined to deliver better for my community by launching an independent inquiry into misogyny in North Yorkshire Police, ensuring a trauma-informed and victim-led approach to investigations and implementing compulsory training for all agencies working with black and minoritised women who are victims of violence.”
Tackle rape culture
Independent candidate Keith Tordoff, who served for 20 years at West Yorkshire Police, also said women and girl’s safety was a priority and that he wanted to bring Clare’s Law more into public view.
Clare’s Law aims to prevent domestic abuse and is named after 36-year-old Clare Wood who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in Greater Manchester in 2009.
Mr Tordoff added: “I want to review work already under way by the police and find things which could be done better, such as benchmarking domestic violence protection notices, domestic violence protection orders usage and using new resolution schemes like the cautions and relationship abuse programme.
“I have ideas around tackling rape culture with public education, looking at a way of having independent oversight of rape and abuse decisions and investigations.
“I want to update police vetting and stop officers using WhatsApp on duty too.”
Detect violence against women
Liberal Democrat candidate James Barker said the current situation for women and girls is “troubling”.
He said: “There were 597 rape cases recorded in North Yorkshire in the year to March 2020 of which 88% involved female victims, as did 85% of 635 sexual assaults.
“There were over 7,000 crimes flagged as domestic abuse, but there will be harassment and worse that goes unreported.”
Councillor Barker, who served in the military for 24 years, added: “There is much to do, but as a start I would want to increase efforts to prevent and detect violence against women and girls.
“This will include ensuring all frontline staff are trained to detect and respond appropriately to domestic abuse, sexual violence and sexual harassment.”
Rebuild our frontline
Labour’s Emma Scott-Spivey is a student paramedic and the daughter of two police officers.
She described violence against women and girls as an “endemic” and said she would “restore trust” in the commissioner’s office if elected.
She said: “My first priority as commissioner would be to restore trust and rebuild our frontline – repairing the damage done by Philip Allott and making sure our emergency services have the tools they need to keep us safe.
“The culture of male violence and how politicians and public services respond to it must change urgently.
“I will appoint a senior leadership officer to drive forward the police’s response and work with women’s groups, community groups, schools and victims organisations to make women and girls safer.”
Although Conservative candidate Zoe Metcalf was unable to take part in these video interviews with University of York radio station URY she has been talking to other media outlets including the Local Democracy Reporting Service‘s Jacob Webster and also YorkMix Radio.
On the subject of equality and safety for women she says she would work with the services to ensure the correct recruitment strategies are in place.
“There can be no room for inequalities in North Yorkshire and I will ensure the commissioner’s office leads the way on equality issues and will work with senior figures within the services so they do likewise.”
She added it is “unacceptable” that females are subject to harassment, abuse and violence, adding:
“I will expand the support available to victims and survivors, introduce preventative measures to stop the violence happening in the first place and commission outside agencies to work with teachers in delivering healthy relationship, sex and health education.
“I will also increase the pathways to report domestic abuse and commission domestic abuse workers in A&Es.”