Alun Michael pledges “We won’t walk away from neighbourhood policing”

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael, has criticised comments by senior officers in England about the days of ‘Bobbies on the Beat’ being numbered and promises “In South Wales we won’t walk away from neighbourhood policing”.

Responding to comments by senior officers in England that the days of bobbies on the beat are numbered, South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said:

“This is a quite old-fashioned debate because the idea of police officers wandering the streets without a clear sense of purpose went out 20 years ago. In South Wales we are making best use of the additional PCSOs provided by Welsh Government to work ever more closely with our communities and we won’t be following the line taken by some English police forces who are walking away from neighbourhood policing.

“At a time when the number of police officers in South Wales has been reduced from 3,400 to 2,800 as a result of the cuts posed by the UK Government it’s ever more important to work closely with our communities and with our partners in local government and health and the voluntary sector – so the message from me and from the Chief Constable is that in South Wales we will ‘shrink together, not shrink apart’ because we can do more together to maintain safe, healthy communities than any of us can by working alone in silos of reactive service delivery. With such deep cuts year-on-year – and with more to come – this isn’t easy but it’s the only wise way to plan ahead.”

Agreement binds police and health services together in South Wales

A ground-breaking new agreement to connect policing and health services in South Wales has been launched by the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Chief Constable and the Chief Executive and Chair of Public Health Wales.  It commits South Wales Police and the health service to work ever more closely to tackle the factors that cause both crime and ill-health.

Commissioner Alun Michael has long advocated a “public health approach to crime” since the time, as a Home Office Minister, he promoted the idea of being “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime”.  And he welcomed today’s agreement as a “major step forward in  putting principles into practice”.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed on 21 October 2015 at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay will ensure the agencies work in partnership to identify and overcome common challenges, taking a scientific approach and sharing analysis and evaluation.

The agreement will ensure an evidence-based approach to the prevention and reduction of ill-health and crime, and better targeting and evaluation to improve services provided to the public by South Wales Police and Public Health Wales.

The agreement will also make sure that the police and Public Health Wales continue to work closely to prepare and respond to emergency situations including threats from natural disasters, terrorism and other major incidents.

Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, Alun Michael, said:

“This Memorandum of Understanding is a ground-breaking agreement which will provide a closer working relationship between South Wales Police and Public Health Wales.

“Through a more defined relationship we will be able better to identify individuals at an early stage and intervene to prevent crime and keep vulnerable individuals from entering the criminal justice process.

“There are both health benefits and policing benefits if we can do more together to tackle key issues including violence on streets, excessive drinking, substance misuse, domestic violence and mental health issues.  Key principles include early intervention and prevention of harm.

“We are establishing an agreed programme of work based on the priorities contained within both the Police and Crime Reduction Plan 2015-18 and Public Health Wales’ 2015-2018 Strategic Plan. It will reflect the underlying principle of mutual benefit in order to effectively and efficiently deliver health, wellbeing and safer communities for people living in Wales.”

Chief Constable of South Wales Police Peter Vaughan added:

“By coming together today we have been able to set out a plan for the future, drawing upon the skills and expertise of both organisations to create a long term sustainable plan for closer collaboration.

“We will be able to identify common problems and understand the challenges we face and will progress the delivery of joint priorities from the wider perspective of both public health and criminal justice, with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention.”

Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of Public Health Wales, said:

“We are looking forward to working in close collaboration with our colleagues in the police. Many of our goals and aspirations are shared, especially around taking early action to ensure young people in Wales are supported to live healthy and crime-free lives.

“This Memorandum of Understanding is an important first step in our collaboration with the police in South Wales, which will deliver real benefits to the public as well as to police and public health services. By pooling our resources and working towards the same goals, we can make a much bigger difference to people’s lives.”

Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB, Chair of Public Health Wales, said:

“This memorandum represents a wider shift in the way agencies are responding to the challenges we face in Wales.  We can no longer afford to work in isolation.  We must work together to align our resources and our goals to improve health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities, and reduce crime.

“This important agreement recognises that ill-health and crime disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable in society. This commitment will help all three agencies to get support into communities that need it most.”

Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy, Research and International Development for Public Health Wales said:

“Tackling alcohol and drug related problems, road traffic injuries, child abuse, and domestic violence are just a few of challenges faced by both public health and policing organisations.

“This Memorandum of Understanding outlines how Public Health Wales, South Wales Police, and the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales will work together and respond to these challenges by providing support for those affected and critically by tackling the causes ill health and criminal behaviour.”

The memorandum was signed by the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Alun Michael, the Chief Constable of South Wales Police Peter Vaughan QPM, the Chief Executive of Public Health Wales Dr Tracey Cooper, and the Chair of Public Health Wales Professor Sir Mansel Aylward CB.

The signing of the memorandum was witnessed by Welsh Government Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford AM.

Home Secretary risks confusion over PCSOs and Volunteers, says Alun Michael

The Home Secretary’s initiative to change the role of PCSOs and to give powers to a new range of volunteers is a mistake that would cause confusion, says Alun Michael, the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.

“This consultation is unsettling for communities, is muddled in its approach and risks causing confusion and unnecessary fears in the communities of South Wales,” he said.  “There’s no need for it because there is already flexibility in the system, and Theresa May’s suggestion would reduce flexibility as well as confusing everyone.

“I would like to reassure all of our communities in South Wales that irrespective of this consultation, we will not be replacing our PCSOs with volunteers and we will not be retreating from the emphasis we place on community policing, which is at the heart of our approach in South Wales. The Chief Constable, Peter Vaughan and I are united in this approach.

“The impact of PSCOs in Wales is already greater than in England – they have comparatively few PCSOs in London for example and that is part of the problem. Because of the priorities given by Welsh Government we have an additional 205 PSCOs in South Wales and wherever I go I hear of the value that is placed on them by local communities, councillors and everyone else.

“Theresa May suggests that we should recruit more volunteers but that is already happening without her suggesting it – we don’t need top-down creation of new categories by the Home Office. We greatly value the volunteers who inspect custody facilities and those who volunteer as special constables and in a variety of other roles. We are recruiting more special constables over the coming months because their numbers in South Wales had dropped significantly and I would invite anyone who is willing to volunteer in any capacity in South Wales to get in touch with me – we value your contribution.

“Police Officers are under greater pressure than ever before because of the swingeing cuts that were imposed by the coalition government over the last five years and we know that we are going to have even greater cuts over the next four years. That can’t be ignored and our police officers deserve your respect, support and encouragement as we seek to do more with less and to avoid any diminution in the quality of policing in South Wales.

“We will face the challenges ahead by continuing to place neighbourhood policing at the heart of our approach and will not be implementing the changes outlined by the Home Office. What we need now is to support our police officers and PCSOs in getting on with the job of engaging with our communities and keeping South Wales safe.”

 

Lack of information for electors

The thing that has irritated people most about the Police & Crime Commissioner election is the lack of information.

That lack of information is both an insult to the electors and deeply offensive to the candidates. And the blame has to be set squarely at the door of Ministers who decided on this radical change in the governance of the police without willing the means. Continue reading

The last Penarth Times column

This is my last Penarth Times column as the Member of Parliament for Cardiff South and Penarth. After 25 years as an MP that does give me a strange feeling. But when I became an MP I missed my challenging work with young people and the roles as a magistrate and local councillor in which I had invested a lot of hard work and energy in the previous 15 years. It’s the same now: I will miss the House of Commons but I am moving on to meet a new challenge and to do something that I regard as essential to the public good. An MP cannot simply resign, but instead leaves Parliament by taking up the nominal Crown appointment of “Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern”. It’s a strange, old-fashioned proceeding which is in stark contrast to the reason behind my resignation, which is as Labour’s candidate in the election for making a new and experimental role work well for the public, so I’m leaving a traditional institution with the hopes of beginning a new one. Continue reading

Visiting Lush Cosmetics in Swansea and Cardiff for ‘No Cop Out for Wildife’

Alun at Lush Swansea with Sian Thomas and Michelle Snell, the Manager and Trainee Manager

I was invited to visit the two Lush Cosmetics shops in the South Wales area to hear about their campaign ‘No Cop Out for Wildlife’. Lush has been doing great work in raising awareness about the Police Commissioner elections and asking customers who care about wildlife crime to tell their candidates that they want them to pay attention to animal welfare and enforcing the law on wildlife and environmental crime. I’m proud to say that I’ve championed animal welfare issues in Parliament for many years, including guiding the Hunting Act through Parliament, campaigning against the badger cull and helping to pass the most radical piece of animal welfare legislation since 1911 with the Animal Welfare Bill.

Continue reading

The Badger Cull

On Sunday, dozens of senior scientists with expertise in wildlife disease wrote a public letter to The Observer, expressing their strong objection to the Government’s badger cull about to begin in England. They say that they “believe the complexities of TB transmission mean that licensed culling risks increasing TB rather than reducing it.”

Continue reading

University of Glamorgan Hustings

The hustings event organized by the students of the University of Glamorgan in Treforest was one of the best.  In the audience was Jonathan Bishop, a leading expert on the growing problem of internet trolling. He said that my informed response was outstanding: “Internet trolling is only going to become more severe a problem. Hearing first hand Alun Michael’s clear expertise on the matter compared to the other candidates has won my confidence for sure.

For more see: http://www.crocels.info/internet-news-comment-opinion/625/alun-michael-pcc-supported-by-jonathan-bishop/

I appreciate Jonathan’s kind comment  and I’m glad that he found my answer convincing. I don’t pretend to be a “techie” but I have spent a lot of time over many years working on the “people” aspects of internet crime and on internet governance issues in Parliament and internationally.  I’ve been a contributor to the UN’s Internet Governance Forum on behalf of the UK Parliament and as chair of the UK Internet Governance Forum.  And earlier this year I moderated a seminar on “The Rule of Law Online” in Geneva for the Internet Society.  Internet issues aren’t remote problems – they now affect all of us, even people who never go online themselves, so it is important. If elected, I’ll be continuing to use my knowledge and implement it as Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales.

Last debate in Parliament

Debate about victims in Westminster Hall

Just before we both resigned from the House of Commons, Tony Lloyd and I launched a Parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall on behalf of the victims of crime.  We believe in getting their voices heard in the criminal justice system and engaging with the actual experience of victims. You can watch the debate here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_commons/newsid_9759000/9759957.stm

Tony is standing as a candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner in Greater Manchester and this was for both of us our last debate as an MP, and I’m proud that I left having continued my work to give a platform for victims, their experience and their opinions which started when I was involved in setting up the first Victim Support group in Wales.  That happened many years ago but the principles and the need for the experience of victims to be at the heart of the criminal justice system is as important as ever.