Iraq war hero explains what he would do as Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner

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Since I announced last October that I wanted to be Kent’s first elected Police and Crime Commissioner, I have been talking to people across the county, listening to their views and sharing mine. One message has come through loud and clear: policing really matters. That is why it is so important that in the coming months we have a sensible debate in Kent about policing and crime.

Sir Robert Peel, the founder of modern policing, said: “The police are the public, and the public are the police.” I believe strongly the people of Kent need to feel a greater degree of ‘ownership’ over their force – not in the sense of interfering with operational independence, but in having a bigger role in how it is run and how they’re given information about what is being done and why.

I want to radically overhaul the Special Constabulary and create valuable new ways of volunteering in a Kent Police Reserve. At its peak the country had over 136,000 Specials – Kent now has fewer than 400. There are many fine men and women serving the community as Specials, but I want to introduce a new tier which is around people giving what time they can, and ultimately acting as a strategic reserve to be used during crisis situations (such as last August’s disorder which gripped the country) or for use on ‘days of action’ when particular crime types are focused on and the county is locked down for the criminal. I would like to see a council tax discount for those who volunteer to serve, as a thank you for their contribution to their community.

I want greater transparency of operational information to harness and engage the power of the people in solving crime. For example, why shouldn’t we have a local equivalent of the sort of top 10 ‘wanted list’ that you see the FBI use to great effect? Shouldn’t we all be contributing to running down those criminals causing the greatest harm in Kent and working with the force to bring them to justice? Working together, we can make a real difference.

Victims should be updated and have complete transparency about every stage of their investigation, with an audit trail of who has done what and when to bring offenders to justice. I will ensure that if you are a victim of crime, you will have a right to that information in an easily accessible format. And the wider public too must know not just that crime has been committed, but what the outcome of the investigation and the court process was.

There is one group who seem to me to get the worst deal in the criminal justice system, and that is victims. Once a victim experiences the criminal justice system, they believe it to be less fair and their confidence drops compared with the expectations of non-victims. A third of people feel victim’s rights are respected, compared to 80 per cent who think the rights of criminals are respected. This needs to be turned on its head, and the police, the courts, the Crown Prosecution Service need to put the victim first in everything they do. Charging decisions need to be faster and in the interests of the victim not some set of Whitehall targets. Justice needs to be faster, and not dragged out to suit the felon. The criminal needs to be afraid of committing crime in Kent, and victims must know that the system is on their side.

Col Tim Collins lives in Whitstable

3 comments

  • Tim Collins is right when he states a sensible debate about policing needs to take place in Kent and I say importantly this needs to be based on a sound overview on what is already occurring in Kent with realistic promises being made. The Special Constabulary is a sound foundation full of dedicated, caring people who are putting their lives on the line without receiving any pay for this huge undertaking and they must always be respected and valued. I wonder if their views have been taken into account on whether they wish to be public order trained, as is being suggested and the mind boggles as to how they will be mobilised when we are talking largely about spontaneous incidents. These people have occupations during the day and schedule their time appropriately in a pre planned shift pattern. The expense for the additional training would also need to be considered. There are many regular Police Officers who wish to be public order trained but simply cannot be due to funding issues. I believe a better approach is to work with the regular officers we already have, training them and using the Special officers for back filling normal operational duties. I agree the Special Constabulary need to be thanked for their hard work, time and dedication to task however I wonder how realistic a council tax deduction is and how the deficit will be addressed. Will the communities’ council tax rise in order to subsidise this reduction. In times where Police services are having to cut front line officers in order to meet financial targets it would seem strange that there is money for re-training or influence to commit to council tax deductions. A top ten wanted list happens locally on every main district, where the top ten offenders are identified and targeted in various ways, it is the job of the Offender Management Unit to do so and these images are already fed through to the media to channel the public’s assistance. Let’s start investing in the resources we already have and building upon these with the support of the Special Constabulary and Community support officers and lets set realistic priorities and deliver a realistic agenda. After serving the community for nearly ten years as a Police Officer I have a unique, up to date and realistic insight into policing practices, which together with you the public will be invaluable in shaping our Police service. What are your views?

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    frances

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

  • Tim, It is applauded that you wish to have Council Tax discounts for “special Constables” but what about fireman, or nurses, or Magistrates who all serve the community, the later for free! I understand your sentiments about what Sir Robert Peel said, but the Public do not want the Police investigating the Police as is the case with the Professional Standards Unit, who are all Ex Police officers. That is like having M P’s accountable for their expenses, in realty, will it work? The second tier of complaint is to the IPCC. But did you know that the IPCC only review the case (complaint) NOT investigate it, (unless the IPCC are in at the start of an enquiry). Also the IPCC have no control over what Kent Police send them about the (your) complaint, they may withhold, lose, or misplace the file notes if it is detrimental to Kent Police. Fact is you can not get the IPCC, or Kent Police to verify what they (IPCC) have had from Kent Police i.e. all the relevant documents. How can you conduct an enquiry into a complaint on that basis, it is a little like you going up to a tank with a pistol telling it to halt or you will fire! Tim you should try and get disclosure from Kent Police I can tell you, you have to climb a mountain, and hand over cash to get it, it takes months, and then K P will not disclose all the material they have. Transparency is not a word K P understands, or acknowledges. Did you know that there are over 300 Police officers in Kent with a criminal record? What is your view on that? And what would you do about it? We have had the Chief Constables position that was a somewhat apathetic approach to the issue. Traffic offences are crimes, otherwise why does Kent Police spend so much resources on them? This issue of Policing is about the Ethos of Policing, I quote Sir Robert Peel-; “The Police are the Public-The Public are the Police”. That must mean we are “all” accountable, and all must be trusted, treated fairly, and above the law, no matter how some say it is incidental. Are you also aware that it is almost impossible to sack a Police officer? I do know if you read in the Times just recently about the antics of senior Detectives over a conviction of a “special needs person”! Are they still in their jobs? YES. Fact is charging a person is the first stage of a Police officer “enquiry” the officer may be acting on an allegation alone, not facts. The Police do not control the “charging” to the judiciary of a person that is the task of the CPS. Some people are victims of crime that have not committed anything but have been subject to false allegations by others, they are victims too. Fact is Tim that you can be accused of something by someone which will initiate the Police dragging you into the Police cells without any corroborated evidence, or other evidence, (no transparency from Kent Police here) they can hold you for hours to then drop the charge, (allegation) and kick you out of the door. Fact is that person, (the accuser) or persons are “protected” from prosecution by the English law unless you can prove and demonstrate ill will or intentional harm towards the victim by that person, or persons even if that person or persons have lied on a witness statement. How would you deal with that travesty? You stated once a “victim” experiences the criminal justice system their view, you say-, it to be less fair. The criminal justice system (The Court system) is much fairer, more impartial, more unbiased and less prejudicial then the Police custody system, you should try speaking to victims of that Kent Police system. Have you? Once you have been a “subject” of the Police system and how “they” K P approach criminals, and victims (all are innocent until proven guilty) the perception about Police fairness, impartiality, non bias, non prejudice are as far away as me becoming the next Police Commissioner. Or maybe not if we can instil some debate over policing in Kent and accountability from those in charge, who have this opportunity now-; the general public to decide how the Police should work for “us” we the Public want to see more accountability, more transparently of all subjects, (victims) subjected to the Policing of Kent. I have my ideas how that should begin; giving a council tax rebate to special constables is not the starting point. Yours Truly. Mr Kenneth Little.

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    Ken

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

  • How great to hear a bit of common sense spoken about the awful and unbalanced criminal justice system. Visit a court if you want see how loopy things have become. Anyone who stands up for victims will get my vote!

    Report this comment

    JoReade

    Friday, January 27, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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