THIS week we profile the candidates for the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner post ahead of this month’s election.
Today we question Liberal Democrat John Howson, 65, from Oxford.
Relevant Experience: I have 22 years as a magistrate in Oxfordshire.
I was also a senior university manager looking after budgets for nine years and have run my own business.
I have served on Oxfordshire County Council’s education committee and lectured at Oxford Brookes University.
I was a teacher in Tottenham where I was the victim of a serious knife attack in 1977.
Why Oxfordshire should vote for me: I would improve detection rates, ensure support for victims is funded properly, protect frontline policing, consult the public about priorities, and listen to young people.
I would also ensure value for money but protect services to the public, ensure the best use of modern technology, and stress the need for police staff to understand they serve the public.
Which crimes in Oxfordshire and Oxford city will you prioritise?
Those crimes where there are victims, and especially vulnerable victims, demand a high priority along with matters of local or national security.
How will you prevent more crime?
An active and engaged citizenship prepared to work with the police is the best prevention mechanism.
How will you solve more crime?
By making detection a strategic priority and charging the Chief Constable to achieve this.
Where in Oxfordshire and Oxford city would you spend more money? The location of public-facing counters is an issue for discussion since the majority of the public use emails or phone calls to contact the police. However, those who don’t use IT and dislike phones need to be able to contact the police easily too.
Where do you see opportunities for the force to save money in Oxford and Oxfordshire?
Better integration of some services may bring further opportunities to divert funds to frontline services.
How would you ensure budget cuts do not lead to crime rising?
It would be easy to say, by effective deployment of resources.
In practice, some crimes are falling at the present time but others such as cybercrime and domestic abuse are on the increase, in some cases because the public are more willing to report them. So I would say, ensuring resources are spent on deterring crime.
How important is the police’s relationship with the public and how will you develop this?
The PCC will be the point of accountability for the police and anti-crime agenda and will develop a visibility similar to elected mayors.
A PCC who does not listen to concerns of the public will not be re-elected.
Thames Valley is a large area, how will you make sure Oxford is represented? I will hold regular meetings with council groups, neighbourhood action groups and organisations.
I will take space in publications to communicate with the electorate and there will be a website. For those not able to use IT I will investigate a freephone number.
How will we be able to measure your success after your first 100 days?
Through the negotiation of a successful budget.
I will ask the Chief Constable if more can be achieved to improve detection rates and working to prevent young people from setting out on a life of crime.
- 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.