THIS WEEK, the Oxford Mail is speaking to the four candidates standing to win power as the next Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner in the upcoming elections on May 6.

Today is the turn of Matthew Barber, the current deputy PCC.

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He believes he is the best fit for the role having worked as current PCC Anthony Stansfeld’s right-hand man for several years already.

Mr Barber also reveals why he won’t be hiring his own deputy if he is elected into the role next month.

We asked him 10 questions, and this is what he said:

1. What is your name?

Matthew Barber

2. Where do you live?

I live in West Hanney

3. Why do you want to be police and crime commissioner?

Because I think it is an incredibly important role in making a difference to policing. I have got a plan that can make a difference to our community. I don’t think of it as an automatic stepping stone [from deputy to PCC]. It’s not just career progression but I see it as an important role that can have a big impact and I can use my experience as the deputy.

I am doing this because I have something to offer. There is a part of me that instantly says I will apply again in three years time if I don’t get elected in May – but you need to reflect. I think I have a good plan but if I’m not elected then why do other people not agree? My efforts are focussed on May 6.

4. Will you have a deputy and what will you do differently to the current police and crime commissioner (Anthony Stansfeld)?

I don’t intend to have a deputy. Personally, I’m interested in the structure of the police and crime commissioner’s office. If I am elected and when Anthony goes, I will change the roles of people who are here. A lot of people have left because they have new jobs and have moved on so there has to be some change.

What I will say is that Anthony started the role off from nothing, he had a blank sheet of paper.

I have got a good relationship with the chief constable (John Campbell) but I have made it clear to them that I will be demanding and the police and crime plan will be more specific. There will be measurable outcomes. I have said my plan will set the priorities and his plan will set the targets.

5. What do you do for work at the moment?

I’m a councillor and I’m the deputy police and crime commissioner.

6. Using three words, how would you describe yourself?

Decisive, approachable and strategic

7. What makes you different to the other candidates?

What makes me different is my experience. I’m the deputy police and crime commissioner so I understand the role. I also have a clear plan.

8. What are your main election campaign promises?

I have five key areas:

  • Strong local policing – more police and more neighbourhood policing
  • Fighting serious organised crime
  • Cyber crime
  • Improving criminal justice
  • Tackling illegal encampments.

9.What's the first thing you will do if you’re elected?

Deliver some strong local policing [to help the confidence in police]. We want to make more PCSOs (police community support officers) who have a main focus on neighbourhood crimes – that’s the lower-level crimes like burglaries, robberies, anti-social behaviour, vehicle crime and criminal damage.

Police understandably focus on the high-level crime like murder and sexual abuse but when people talk about confidence in police, most I have met say what effects that confidence is reporting a bike being stolen and nobody taking any notice of it.

I will also improve different schemes and manage the volunteers for programmes like the community speed watch one – which is where volunteers go out with speed cameras. Just about every community I go to has a story to tell about speeding.

10. What is the most important crime to focus on?

Neighbourhood crimes. Most people will just think that’s petty crime but it’s not – it’s vehicle crime, burglaries and anti-social behaviour.

Low-level fraud is also one.

At [events I’ve been to before the pandemic] most people would say their biggest concern is burglaries, but you are unlikely to be a victim of burglaries if you live in the Thames Valley.

However, it is much more likely that money will be missing from your bank account. It might not even be over 2p but sophisticated frauds take 2p from everybody and then they’ve made a lot of money.


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