THIS week we profile the candidates for the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner post ahead of this month’s election. Today we question Independent Geoff Howard, who lives in Slough.
Relevant Experience: Degree in education and a former head of department in a Slough secondary school. I have run a business in Slough for 27 years.
A serving magistrate for 20 years, I was a Slough Borough Councillor for 13 years.
I was a governor of Slough primary schools, and I am a governor of a Slough secondary school. I am chairman of a local youth/ boxing club.
Why Oxfordshire should vote for me: The Association of Chief Police Officers and the Police Federation want the police service to remain politically-independent.
My business and teaching experience, my financial experience when a councillor, my years as a magistrate and my vast service to the community via schools, the youth service; sporting clubs and as a long-standing Rotary member make me the ideal choice as a person who can be the ‘Voice of the People’.
Which crimes in Oxfordshire and Oxford city will you prioritise?
Those crimes that have been identified by the neighbourhood police and the police community support officers, in their respective wards/parishes, following consultations with their local neighbourhood groups/residents.
How will you prevent more crime?
By working with local authorities, the judiciary, Safer Enterprise groups and voluntary groups.
For example, local authorities, especially when building new housing estates, should plan to install: good lighting; CCTV cameras; and gated alleyways to terraced properties in residential areas.
By providing residents with advice on security measures to make their homes less likely to be burgled.
How will you solve more crime?
By targeting the identified crimes in any area and providing resources until those crime are eradicated.
Where in Oxfordshire and Oxford city would you spend more money?
Resources will be allocated to deal with various crimes in communities that have been identified as being the most serious by local people.
Where do you see opportunities for the force to save money in Oxford and Oxfordshire?
The way forward is for more co-operation with neighbouring forces. Any redundant buildings owned by the police could be sold off. There could be savings by buying supplies in bulk.
How would you ensure budget cuts do not lead to crime rising?
Because of the efficiencies already mentioned, it is planned to axe 152 police officers by 2015. If elected, I will not allow this to happen.
I believe that more paper work, currently undertaken by police officers, should be done by civilian staff, thus enabling highly trained police officers to be where they should be.
How important is the police’s relationship with the public and how will you develop this?
The police’s relationship with the public is absolutely vital. I would like to see neighbourhood police officers and police community support officers committed to being responsible for a particular ward/parish for a minimum of three years. This would enable them to become recognised and well known in their wards/parishes and would aid continuity.
Thames Valley is a large area, how will you make sure Oxford is represented?
Every area will be treated equally and visited equally.
How will we be able to measure your success after your first 100 days?
By the amount of crime at local level that has been targeted and reduced.
A police and Crime Commissioner will be elected in the Thames Valley for the first time on Thursday, November 15. The £85,000-a-year post’s responsibilities include setting the police force’s budget and priorities. They will also have the power to appoint and dismiss the chief constable.
The winner will start work on November 22. Elections will be held every four years.