Will York’s new police commissioner deliver? I doubt it

13 Nov 2012 @ 7.51 am
| Opinion

Police Commissioner Gordon had the help of Batman when running Gotham City. No such luck for York's PCC
Days ahead of the historic vote for a new police commissioner for York, apathy has gripped the city. Retired police officer Dave Hasney is worried

Many questions regarding the Police and Crime Commissioner elections still remain, a few days before the vote. Will we see any solid advantages realised in the policing of our society after the November 15 ballot?

Or, as the cynical amongst us have tended to suggest, is the whole process little more than a limp political ploy, one that is designed to detract from the central government failings on crime and the impacts of crime?

The official PCC candidates for the City of York and the county of North Yorkshire have been confirmed but even that hasn’t really galvanised the electorate. With days to go to the elections I’m still wondering: (a) will the anticipated poor electoral turn-out be significant enough to provide a true mandate for the successful candidate; and (b) will those who are elected really be in a position to truly ”ensure the policing needs of our community are met” or effectivly ”oversee how crime is tackled in our area”?

After browsing through the websites and Facebook pages of our prospective PCC candidates I would have to say, I doubt it. In addition, much of expected electoral apathy is also evident by the Facebook “likes” for both those candidates; Ruth Potter (131) and Julia Mulligan (77) at the time of writing.

The cynic in me would also ask, has the gender of the two candidates got anything to do with appeasing those who say, there are too few female leaders in politics or other public bodies? But gender issues aside, the real concern must be: how will either candidate actually deliver what they say they will? And if they can, does anyone really give a stuff?

I believe I have the experience and skills to do a good job for local people. My focus will be to draw up a police and crime plan that truly reflects the needs of our communities, and then to hold the police to account in delivering that plan…

Julia Mulligan

I understand the cycle of crime that criminals spiral into when constantly going in and out of prisons, and believe in tough restorative justice that is beneficial to communities and to victims of crime. I will prioritize all forms of hate crime. I look forward to working with local people in every part of North Yorkshire…

Ruth Potter

In a recent straw poll among a small group of relatively well-educated and interested individuals in my local pub, the results would tend to confirm the projected electoral apathy. Worryingly, one was even mindful to turn out and exercise his right to vote but intended to “spoil” his ballot paper by way of protest.

One of the factors compounding public apathy is that far too many people have no real interest in any of the very important issues involved here, until there is some direct impact upon them. The fact that Mulligan is at least asking what the public think about those issues and asking what they want (answer her survey), is an admirable starting point I suppose.

All this soundbite rhetoric is based upon little more than a desire to enhance the longevity of individual political careers and the attempt to combat waning public support for political parties. Given the potential impacts upon policing in our communities I’m worried.

I’m concerned that the operational requirements of our police, along with the real needs and desires of our society are, in many ways, out of kilter with each other. The cause of this has been far too many years of emotive media headlines, along with the intentional and constant distortion or manipulation of crime statistics.

Add to this the career aspirations of many self-interested senior police officers, who have used policing as mostly a tool for personal advancement, and it’s easy to conclude that the chasm between police capability and public expectation is now almost impossible to repair, despite what the politicians would have us believe!

One thing is for certain. Failure to engage in the PCC process, or at least have some modicum of interest about trying to influence the outcomes of what is, for all intents and purpose a done deal, is simply not the right option. But thankfully, it’s still your personal choice!

  • Dave Hasney was a serving police officer in North Yorkshire for 30 years
  • This is an edited version of an article posted on his blog, Dave’s Bankside Babble