IN November, the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) will have been in the new job for two years. Crime reporter Ben Wilkinson spoke to Anthony Stansfeld about the job, the threat of further funding cuts and the future for Thames Valley Police


THAMES Valley Police has cut £58m from its annual budget of more than £400m through various savings.

But the force is now facing finding further savings of £38m in the next three years.

Last month Clive Benson, secretary of Thames Valley Police Federation, warned 999 response officers had been left exhausted and overworked due to the cuts.

Mr Benson said: “We are getting more and more reactive patrol officers – 999 response – who say they are just run-ragged every day and there are simply not enough officers to deal with the workload that they are receiving.

“They always seem to be close to the bare minimum of staffing to do all that they have got to do.”

Oxford Mail:

  • Clive Benson

However, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said the force was coping, but things could change when the new cuts bite.

He said: “Policing is always going to be a difficult job and I do not think as yet that the financial cuts have affected the frontline, but I am concerned about the future.

“The population of the Thames Valley has increased faster than the rate we have been able to put officers on the front line so I do understand the Federation’s concerns.

“As Thames Valley has a large police force it is better placed than most police forces but nevertheless, this is going to be a difficult period as the Home Secretary asks the police to do more with less.

“Our problem is the major efficiency savings and collaborations we can make have largely been made.”



MR Stansfeld said a fall in crime proved PCCs had been a success, but said media coverage often painted them in a bad light.

He said: “The vast majority have been a considerable success.”

He also said the public were “probably not” aware of his work.

He said: “Good news is much more difficult to get out than bad news.

“What I find ironic is that the profile of PCCs is only raised when something goes wrong.”

The PCC said the role was new and small changes would inevitably be needed, but he said it was better than the old police authority system he replaced.

He said: “It costs less money, it is a proactive system, rather than reactive.

“The proof is in the eating. Crime has come down markedly in Thames Valley Police in the last two years.”

Mr Stansfeld also said it was unlikely the PCC role would be dropped quickly if Labour did win the next general election.

He said: “It is unlikely a police authority system would replace it because that has manifest problems.”

He said he believed there would be a better turnout in the next PCC elections, when PCCs would have to stand alongside a named deputy that could “step into his shoes without having to have an election”.

Mr Stansfeld – who was elected in November 2012 on the Conservative ticket – said it was likely Thames Valley Police would be asked to absorb another force area like Bedfordshire, Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire to make policing more efficient.

But he said any merger would have to come from the Government.

He said: “It would require the Government’s say so to happen. But the financial situation is such that it is likely to have to happen.

“Everybody realises you cannot carry on with the present style of policing if you are making these huge cuts.”



However, Mr Stansfeld said Thames Valley Police’s crime statistics – which this year showed crime in Oxfordshire was at a 15-year low – did not reflect the number of victims of cyber crime and fraud.

Fraud and cyber crime cases are not investigated locally and therefore not included in police force crime figures.

Mr Stansfeld said: “Traditional crime and violence over the years has dropped. Domestic abuse and sexual crimes have risen because they are being reported now more than in the past.

“The crime stats of what we measure are accurate. But what is concerning is the crime we are not aware of.

“There are hugely more victims of Internet crime than there are of traditional crime, such as household burglary.

“The more serious criminals have gone into it. That is why you do not see bank robberies any more.“

Fraud is investigated by the City of London Police’s fraud and economic crime unit.

Hairdressers at Popham in North Parade, Oxford, found themselves locked out of their computer system by a cyber attack in May last year.

Oxford Mail:

  • Cyber crime victim Shirley Popham

The company had to replace the network and said they lost £15,000 worth of business.

Company director Shirley Popham said: “The police directed us to a fraud squad in London and they did nothing.

“They didn’t even call me back.”



Mr Stansfeld said the introduction of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, police body cameras, and electronic case files had made crime-fighting easier and helped to cut crime.

The PCC met with Prime Minister David Cameron last month to discuss bringing GPS tagging to Oxfordshire to better monitor criminals released from prison early.

Oxford Mail:

  • PCSO Ian Wilkins with an ANPR camera on the A44 Woodstock Road

He said: “The big improvement still to come is GPS tagging of offenders on early release. These now will tell you where they have been the whole time.

“It is very difficult to commit another crime without being caught.”

He was not able to say how much the new technology would cost, adding: “It will be expensive but not half as expensive as having officers chasing offenders around.”

Oxford Mail:

  • A GPS tag


Police and Crime Commissioners were created in November 2012.

They are elected to the position and are responsible completely for policing in their area.

The aim of the role is for a publicly-elected official to be able to hold chief constables and the force to account.

PCCs set policing budgets and priorties for how to tackle crime in their area.

They can sack chief constables, but cannot be sacked themselves.

However in the wake of the Rotherham child abuse scandal, MP Keith Vaz, the home affairs select committee chairman, has called for that to change, in order to remove South Yorkshire PCC Shaun Wright from his post.


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