Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, who is campaigning to be the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, called for joint action to offer a positive future for young people in Swansea and promised his personal backing to the council’s youth policy.
Speaking in Swansea, after meeting Councillor Mitchell Theaker, portfolio holder for youth policy, Mr Michael praised the new leadership of Swansea City Council for spelling out “a clear vision of hope for the city”. Mr Michael added: “I particularly welcome the way that the Leader, Councillor David Phillips, has underlined the need for stronger and safer communities with an emphasis on tackling youth unemployment and promoting community safety”.
There are clear links between Swansea’s new vision and his reasons for standing to be Police and Crime Commissioner, said Mr Michael. “The authoritative report which we produced when I was a senior member of the Justice Select Committee of the House of Commons shows that most of the powers and services which can reduce crime and disorder in our society lie outside the police and the criminal justice system. So a partnership approach is vital for everybody.”
“I first stood for Parliament because my experience of working with unemployed young people was that they had been left without hope and without opportunity by the Thatcher Government. And as Deputy Home Secretary from 1997, I introduced both the crime reduction partnerships and the youth offending teams which have been successful in cutting crime”, he added.
“In Wales, the Welsh Government has put in place schemes to help unemployed young people that were scrapped in England but we can’t escape all the problems created by a UK Government that is cutting too far and too fast, particularly in regard to the police.
“In facing tough times we need to work together. Where local authorities have been willing to put in the effort that is essential to offer a brighter future to our young people, as well as working with the police and others to tackle offending behaviour itself, this has worked. If I am successful in becoming the Police and Crime Commissioner, you have my word that I will work with the police and with the Council to work towards the vision spelt out by the Council’s new leadership,” he said.
Mr Michael also met representatives of Swansea Labour Students during his visit and discussed current issues of concern to students. These included ways to build trust between the police and young people, particularly during times of high youth unemployment. They also discussed ways to tackle violence, particularly violence against women and domestic violence generally.
Councillor Pearl Sangha commented : “Youth unemployment figures are staggering, it’s a scandal that this government doesn’t see these issues as a priority. It should be common knowledge that without employment comes the culture of crime and discontentment and the role of the police commissioner should be to support young people through these tough times. We need someone who realises that these issues are relevant today and I believe that Alun has exemplified that he understands these circumstances through meeting with various young people across South Wales.”
Alun Michael added: “If I am successful in winning the Labour nomination I shall spend ime listening to the views of students and young people in Swansea and elsewhere as a part of ensuring that everybody’s views about policing and community safety form the backdrop to decisions about the future of policing in South Wales,” said Mr Michael.