Alun Michael : Biography
Alun Michael has been the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales since 2012. He says that “looking backwards, the role makes sense of my career – which certainly didn’t make sense looking forwards”.
Growing up in North Wales he was active in the Scout Movement, becoming a Queen’s Scout and then the first person in Wales to be awarded the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. After graduating from Keele University in 1966 he became a newspaper reporter in with the South Wales Echo and served as branch secretary of the National Union of Journalists.
In 1971 he left journalism to become a full-time youth worker in Llanrumney, then Llanedeyrn – subsequently working for 10 years in the Ely area of Cardiff and then in the Docks areas of Butetown and Grangetown. He was a city councillor from 1973 to 1989, playing a leading a leading role in planning, finance and the redevelopment of Cardiff’s city centre. He was the first (voluntary) secretary of the Prince’s Trust in Wales. He became a magistrate in 1972, chairing the Juvenile Bench until 1987 and serving on the South Glamorgan Probation Committee.
In 1987 he was elected as the Labour & Co-operative MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, succeeding Jim Callaghan. Appointed by Neil Kinnock as a Shadow Minister for Welsh Affairs, he was then appointed by John Smith as Tony Blair’s deputy at Home Affairs in 1992 and served in the same role with Jack Straw until the 1997 election brought in a Labour Government
His first period in Parliament was dominated by the argument over the Cardiff Bay Barrage, of which he was a strong advocate. He also fought for the creation of a Cardiff Bay Opera House, acting as deputy chair of the Trust to Nicholas Edwards (Lord Crickhowell). Disappointed when the proposals were turned down he rejoiced when the successor group succeeded with the Millennium Centre, fulfilling the vision of a building that reached out to young people and communities across Wales
In 1997, as Deputy Home Secretary, he steered the Crime and Disorder Act onto the Statute Book, leading to the establishment of local crime reduction partnerships, youth offending teams, the Youth Justice Board and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. He subsequently entered the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales, and then became the first First Minister of Wales before standing down and passing the baton to Rhodri Morgan.
As Minister of State for Rural Affairs from 2001, he tackled the challenge of resolving the vexed issue of hunting with dogs, introduced the Clean Neighbourhoods Act and implemented the “Right to Roam”. A life-long supporter of National Parks, he designated the New Forest as a National Park and prepared the ground for designation of the South Downs. He introduced the highly successful Sustainable Development Fund as a partnership fund for National Parks, first in Wales and then in England.
His final role in Government was Minister of State for Industry and the Regions, promoting regional development and the work of Regional Development Agencies. During the UK Presidency of Europe he led the delegation to the World Summit on the Information Society and promoted the concept of “good governance for the Internet”.
After leaving the Government in 2006 he became a senior member of the Justice Select Committee and then the Home Affairs Committee, taking an active part in major inquiries into ‘Justice Reinvestment’, the changing landscape of policing, the city riots of 2011 and drugs policy nationally and internationally. He sang in the Parliament Choir and also chaired the All-Party Group for Civil Society, the All-Party Group for Corporate Governance, the Parliamentary ICT Forum and the UK Internet Governance Forum, contributing to international debate about internet governance and online crime.
He was involved in a number of international initiatives. He led the UK Parliamentary Delegation to the tripartite US-German-UK conference in Berlin in 2001. As one of three senior representatives he was engaged with seeking a devolution answer to the problems of Moldova with its Russian-backed breakaway province of Transnistria and exploring the problems of TB and HIV in South Africa as Co-Chair of the All-Party Group on Global Health. He led a Parliamentary Delegation to Somaliland and Ethiopia to explore issues of recognition and independence for Somaliland. He was one of an expert Parliamentary Delegation to study police leadership in the USA. And from 2006 to 2012 he led UK delegations to the UN’s annual Internet Governance Forum.
In 2012, after 25 years as the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Cardiff South and Penarth, he resigned to become the first Police Commissioner election in 2012. In that role his priority has been to promote co-operation and partnership between public agencies : He believes strongly that no agency can succeed in isolation and quoted the Justice Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment which showed that the levers that influence crime levels lie neither within policing alone nor within the Criminal Justice System generally but within a variety of agencies including education, health and local government. His published articles on the subject advocate “a Public Health approach to Crime Reduction”.
He is a long-standing advocate of devolving responsibility for policing to Wales, not as a separatist approach but because of the key role played by devolved agencies and services as partners with the police. A life-long advocate of the Voluntary and Community Sector, he and the Chief Constable have signed a compact with the Sector in South Wales and a progressive agreement with Neighbourhood Watch.
He regards the Police and Crime Plan for 2016-2021, published in December 2015 and endorsed by the Police and Crime Panel for South Wales, as the culmination of three years of intense work of building partnerships while coping with the deep cuts in the Police Grant from the Home Office. The Plan has been developed in close partnership with the Chief Constable and his team and reflects the nature of partnership with the seven local authorities in South Wales, with the Health Service and with other public agencies.
He believes that the next four years will enable South Wales Police to build soundly on these firm foundations, continuing the relationship of “collaboration and mutual challenge” between his team and the chief constable’s team. He believes that the approach of Welsh Labour Ministers has encouraged the collaborative approach, particularly in relation to the health service, and with the Chief Constable he has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Public Health Wales that will enable a joint approach to be taken to major issues including domestic abuse, substance misuse, alcohol, street violence and mental health. And he has praised the delivery by Welsh Labour Ministers on their manifesto commitment to fund an additional 500 additional community support officers across Wales – 206 of them for South Wales.
He represents Commissioners on the Audit and Assurance Board of the National Police Chiefs Council and on the Board of the Police ICT Company, established by Government to drive innovation and co-operation in police use of technology. A keen mountain walker, he also represents Wales on the National Executive of the Co-operative Party, sits on the Board of StepChange Debt Charity and on a local charity established to build the Penarth Headland Link.
The Police & Crime Plan 2016 – 2021 can be viewed at …………