On Thursday 5th May we face some very important elections across the country: the London Mayoral and GLA elections, some English local council elections, Scottish Parliamentary elections, Welsh Assembly elections, Northern Ireland Assembly elections, and of course, our Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
Many people don’t see the importance of Police and Crime Commissioners, and the national turnout in 2012 was roughly 12%. I can understand why it they are not yet universally understood. PCCs still remain a relatively new political position that isn’t always very well explained to the public.
Police and Crime Commissioners bring stronger public accountability to our local policing. They replaced the unelected Police Authorities and control the governance of a budget of £180 million. Their number one priority is to reduce crime and make the area they represent safer. As part of this, they get to appoint the Chief Constable; decide how much council tax people will pay towards community safety services and policing; and are personally accountable for all the public money they spend.
In Staffordshire, Matthew Ellis has been an outstanding PCC and excelled on all the aims mentioned above. We now have much more effective policing and reduced crime, which is costing less money to the public purse than the Police Authority his office replaced.
Here are some of Matthew’s achievements since he was elected three and a half years ago: nearly 200 14-17 year olds benefit from the Police Cadet service; 5,700 uninsured cars have been seized from our roads; 81% less people with mental health issues are now put in police cells; 100% of seized criminal assets now go into funding safer community initiatives; and there are 250,000 extra hours of visible policing. The Response and Neighbourhood Policing has also been increased by 1% over the last few years, unlike Labour PCC areas where it has been cut by on average 17%. All of this has been achieved without a single increase in the police proportion of the Staffordshire council tax bill.
In this rapidly changing world, we are seeing unprecedented changes in the types of crime being committed. Victims and criminals used to only be a few miles or streets apart. Now they are often on the other side of the world. This means that keeping children safe online is increasingly difficult. That is why it is vital to provide the right technology so that our police can track those who exploit and abuse children. Our police officers need to be prepared for the threats and risks to the public of a digital world. Only Conservative PCCs with the right spending priorities can rise to combating these challenges.
When at the polling station on Thursday there is only one question voters need to ask themselves: who do you trust to spend hundreds of millions of your money to deliver policing across your local area? Conservative PCCs across the country – including Matthew – have set out long-term strategies to ensure local policing is fit to face changing crime and changing threats.
Our country’s historic principle of policing by consent is stronger than ever before. On Thursday, as the Home Secretary Theresa May has said, will "pass judgement on the pioneering generation of police and crime commissioners for the first time.”
We need to ensure that we continue to have a strong team of hardworking Police and Crime Commissions across the country who deliver results to help make us safe and secure for the future. We must persuade voters of the importance of these elections, persuade them of the importance of voting Conservative, and get them out to the polling stations tomorrow.
Joe Porter is a Parish Councillor in Staffordshire Moorlands, Chairman of Staffordshire Moorlands Conservative Future, President of Keele Students for Britain and the Vote Leave Constituency Campaign Coordinator for Staffordshire Moorlands & Newcastle-Under-Lyme. He studies Marketing and Politics at Keele University and is a Trustee of Keele Student Union.