Friday, 16 November 2012

Results due today

The results from yesterday's Police and Crime Commissioner election on Merseyside will be announced later today.

The votes get counted from 9 30 am this morning.

I am  not sure how long it will take to get a result, but from what I saw at polling stations yesterday, there aren't a huge number of votes to count.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me.  I think this is a really important job,and if I am not successful I really hope it will go to someone who can give it the time and the focus it will need.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Debates - we need more!

A gentleman phoned me today to say he would have loved to come to a debate but there wasn't one he could get to that was near enough to him.

And because this election has been and felt a bit last minute, some of the hustings have been organised at breakneck speed too.

And yet there have been more hustings in this election than I remember in any General Election I have taken part in.  Considerably more.

But clearly there have not been enough and the geographical spread hasn't worked.

I think this is a case where parties will need in future to work together to make sure there are hustings in each part of the sub region and that there are enough, at varied times, to give everyone a chance to come along.

I spoke to Labour and the Conservatives last night to say that next time this election is fought we need to co operate to make sure there is a good spread of opportunties.

I think the people organising the hustings, including Concept PR, the Chamber of Commerce and the South Central Active Forum, have been great in the way they have taken the initiative.

But its still left us with gaps and it was too late to fill those gaps.

Memo to self and others.. need to do better next time!

Debate last night

Thanks to the South Central Active Forum (Liverpool) for organising the candidates' debate at the Kuumba Imani Centre.

I thought it was a really well run event and really did give people a chance to ask a range of questions.

Well done and thanks to the team.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Liverpool Debate Society

Congratulations to everyone at the Liverpool University Debate Society for organising such a  well run candidate's hustings last night.

It was great to see so many students who knew about the election and were keen to discuss the issues.

More visible policing

You'll never have a policeman standing on every street corner and it would feel a bit odd if you did.

But many people say that they want the police to be more visible.  It's part of helping communities feel safe but it's also part of the police re inforcing their role.

I've been posting various items from my manifesto and today I am briefly focusing on this aspect - visibility of policing.

The police already hold meetings in communities.  And the PCSOs near me do a good job of turning up at events like fun days and running stalls.

But there must be a lot more that can be done simply to increase the visibility, and therefore easy accessibility of the police.

We all know the places in our communities where there is "high footfall" - that is there is a lot of people coming and going.  These are ideal locations for regular police "counters" where people can come and raise things, see their local bobby and make appointments if  they need to.  Yet this doesn't seem to happen that often.

Obviously you can't start discussing something sensitive, or sharing someone's private details, in the frozen food aisle at the Co op (!) but you can have other conversations, and these are the sort of conversations that both help communities be and feel safer and help the police in their work.

If elected I'll want to encourage this sort of approach to get the most out of the police/public interaction.

Let's face it, until they invent time travel we can all only be in one place at one time.  That's why its important the polcie make that one place count!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Manifesto posts

I said I would post my manifesto details on this blog over a period of time rather than have a huge block of text.

I have published some already so here are the links to topics chosen so far. (Because of a tech glitch I have republished these links which were'nt workingn the other day.)


Hate Crime

Getting people's views

Late Night levy and extra funds

Fear of Crime

Full time Job

More visible policing

More posts are coming an I will also add them to this list. 

Debates coming up

There are two debates next week which are open to the public (the first one is ticketed because of numbers)

On Monday (12th) evening Liverpool University's debate society plays host to a hustings. (Details are on the society's website which you can find here.)

And on Tuesday the Kuumba Imani centre on Princes Road does the same.

The Debate Society event, which is the ticketed one, is due to start at 6 30.

The Kuumba Imani centre event starts around 7pm.

Al Ghazali centre debate

I very much enjoyed joining others at the Al Ghazali centre for a candidate's debate yesterday.

There wasn't a massive turnout but in a way that was better as we had a real chance to have a real discussion with real questions.

I was pleased to be able to say more about my priority of dealing with "hate crime".  We have to find ways of tackling this sort of crime, which means people become victims just because of who they are and the fact that they are different.  This in turn means acknowledging that it exists.

Thanks again to all at the Al Ghazali for kindly organising the evening.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Going to be away on polling day?

If you have just realised you'll be away on polling day, but haven't got a postal vote, you can get a proxy vote (that's one where someone else goes for you)

The deadline though to have the form in is today (7th November)

You can download and print off a form at this link

Full time job

I was surprised, at a debate the other day, to be asked whether I would do the Police and Crime Commissioner job as a full - time role.

To be honest I hadn't realised that anyone would think it was anything but.

Looking at the rules however, I can see that there are provisions for people to do the work part-time.

I want to be absolutely clear about this.  If I am elected I will be a full- time Police and Crime Commissioner.

In fact, given what I have said about surgeries and meetings, I suspect I would be a more than full time PCC.

This is not to say that there aren't other elected positions that can be combined with working. I believe quite strongly that local Councillors should also do other things for example.

But there is no way anyone could be Police and Crime Commissioner without committing to it full time.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Voting by post

If you vote by post, you should get your ballot paper in the next few days (if you didn't already receive it on Saturday)

I've been asked several times now about the slightly unusual way of voting.

In this election you have two votes - a first choice and a second. 

You don't put a 1 and 2 though.

There are two columns so you put an X in your first choice column next to whoever is your first choice and an X in your second choice column  next to whoever is your second.

You don't have to have a second choice if you don't want to.

And it's important to realise that your second choice won't cancel out your first.

The way it works is that all the first choice votes are counted up.

If someone has more than 50 percent, they are elected.

If they don't, the top two people stay in the ballot and the second choices of all the other ballot papers get counted. 

Postal votes have to come back by 15th November.  You can take yours to a polling station if you forget to post it in time.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Are we under "house arrest"

I said that rather than publish my manifesto as a big block of text, I would post a different bit every day.

Today I want to talk about the fear of crime.

Crime is going down.  That is a statistical fact.  It went down last year too.  Another statistical fact.

The question is, do we feel safer?

And the answer I get from people is that actually many of us are still afraid.

And if you are afraid of crime to the extent that you don't go out much, you might as well be under house arrest.

That's why for me, dealing with the fear of crime is so vital.

Now it's not an easy thing to do.  I remember as a child being frightened of something and it taking quite some time to get over it.

But we must give more confidence to our residents and our communities.

This problem can't be solved overnight.  But I want to work with people, organisations and communities to look at how we can conquer the fear.

This might be target hardening things, like the successful Lib Dem led alleygating programme in Liverpool.

It definitely is about making the police more visible and more accessible. 

And its also about finding ways of working with those groups who might, accidentally, be causing the fear.

But make no mistake, for me, tackling this fear is vital and I will want an intense focus on how we deal with it.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Housing and its links to crime

I came across this really interesting blog from Shelter today.

Shelter is a charity focusing on homelessness and housing.

The links between having somewhere secure to move into and risk of re offending are clearly significant.

Do have a read, it is real food for thought.

You can find it at this link.

The Late Night Levy and other new powers.

Rather than posting a load of text all at once, I am blogging about my manifesto one item at a time.

So I am focusing on a different topic each day.

Some of these things will not be on the Home Office site as the 300 words allowed was simply not enough!

Today I am focusing on two new powers that came into effect yesterday.  Both are about dealing with crime and anti social behaviour caused by alcohol misuse.

The Co alition Government has given local Councils the power to prevent early morning alcohol sales in particularly troubled areas, and to charge a fee to some businesses that sell alcohol late at night and in the early morning.

The point of the early morning measure (Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Order) is that where there is an area that is demonstrably affected by crime and anti social behaviour because of the alcohol sales, a council can step in and restrict the sales.  This is obviously a step of last resort but in neighourhoods that are plagued by this problem it could be the last step that needs to be taken.

The point of the Late Night Levy is to accept that there are extra costs (policing and enforcement) linked to alcohol being sold late at night.  If a Council decides to use the levy, the money goes partly to help pay for enforcement but also partly to help pay for policing. (There are quite a few exemptions - like Business Improvement Districts and Councils can decide on discounts etc so that it is not a one size fits all policy)

In each case the Council has to decide whether to start using the power.

As far as I can see, none of the Councils have taken the decision to use the power(s) yet (although Liverpool has at least discussed it)  but if I am elected I will be keen to see all local authorities on Merseyside using the Late Night Levy power and being prepared to use, as a last resprt, the Early Morning Restriction power.

This isn't about stopping people having fun.  I like a drink myself.

But there are clearly social and crime related costs to alcohol sales very late at night or in the early morning and its only fair that these costs are recognised and met.

And responsible businesses tend to recognise this.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

What do people really think?

I said rather than slap down a load of text from my manifesto, I would blog about a different item each day.

Today its my pledge to actually find out what people think.

Now you might think that people's priorities are obvious when it comes to crime and policing and if not, a survey will do the job.

But surveys simply can't get the information you need.  And they are useless at capturing feelings or strength of feeling.

When I was a Councillor I used to think that time in the launderette on St Mary's Road, or on the top deck of the 82 bus, was a better way of finding out local views than a survey. 

Now it's clearly not possible to spend time on every bus and in every lauderette, but the principle is the same.

Talking to people in their own environment in a reasonably relaxed way is a better way of taking the temperature than any number of formal meetings and tick box surveys.

If elected then I will make a point of going to where people actually are.  I will do a weekly "surgery" in different parts of the area and will use existing events and meetings, as well as busy locations, to find ways to talk to people and get their views.

That doesn't mean there won't be more formal meetings and I will blog again about specific consultation of groups.

But people don't always think to travel to a meeting and then share their views.  And just because they don't do that, doesn't mean their views don't matter.

The police are not experts in market research or in representing people, but I am and I will use those skills in this post.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Hate Crime

Rather than publish my manifesto points as a long bit of text, I decided to blog briefly about one a day.

Today I want to focus on Hate Crime.

I've actually blogged about this previously (scroll down for some material about the figures)

I want to make Hate Crime a priority because it's frankly appalling that people can become victims just because of who they are and their difference, or perceived difference.

Hate Crime makes up a relatively low proportion of crime on Merseyside but it matters because it cheapens us all.

The main "victim group" of Hate Crime on Merseyside are people who are victims because of their race.  But you can also experience Hate Crime because of your sexuality, religion, disability etc.

Some time ago I heard from a local charity highlighing incidents of Hate Crime against people with learning disabilities. It was horrifying that people who were so trusting became victims of those who clearly couldn't understand, or didn't care about, their shared humanity.

Tackling this isn't simple but it's got to be about
* making sure it gets reported and acknowledged
* working with communities and others to make sure its seen as wrong
* starting early in schools to help prevent it.  After all we are not born hating people who are different.

And simply talking about it and raising it will help us know about the problem and deal with it.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Not in it for the money!

Rather than publish my manifesto as one big block of text, I've decided to focus on one particular point each day.

Today - my money pledge.

I am not standing in this election to get more money or to make a big career move. 

And while I do think people who are elected should be paid, we shouldn't end up making a profit.

So my first pledge is this.

I will donate the difference between what I earn now (as a University Lecturer in Ormskirk) and what the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside is actually paid, to local charities.  The Government has now said that the Merseyside PCC salary will be £85,000.  If I round my salary up, it's £35,000. That makes a donation of £50,000.

I will be a full time PCC so my income would only be from this role.  I would end up then keeping the same sum as I earn now

The charities I will give to will specifically be those that help victims of crime.
I will be quite transparent about this, publishing my salary scale and actual salary at Edge Hill University.  And of course the wages for the PCC will be in the public domain.

Deadline to get your vote is nearly here!

If you are not on the electoral register, or if you are but want to get a postal vote, the deadline for geting the forms in is this coming Wednesday (31st).

You don't need a special reason to get a postal vote, you just need to fill in a form to ask for one.

You can get forms from your local council, which in the case of Merseyside will be Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton or Wirral.

But you can also download the forms from the electoral commission and then send them back to your Council.

You'll find the registration form at this link  and the postal vote application form here

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Questions about the election

I'm getting a lot of questions about the election.

Because we don't usually have an election in November, and because this is a new post, a lot of people don't quite know what's going on.

The lack of advance publicity for the existence of the election hasn't particularly helped.

So I have posted here a link to some basic information, which covers key dates and who can vote.

A key date to remember, if you want to apply for a postal vote, is that you need to get your form in by 31st October (ie a week today). Your local Council can send you a form but you can also download one from the electoral commission website at this link.

People voting will  notice a difference when they look at the ballot paper.  In this election you get to vote twice, once for a first choice and once for a second choice.  It's called supplementary voting.  There'll be two columns and you still use an X but instead of putting one X you get the chance to put a second X in the column for your second choice.  The second choice vote can't cancel any of the force of the first choice.

People in Liverpool will have seen this system used last year for the Mayoral election but if you live in Southport, or Sefton, or Knowsley, or St Helens or on the Wirral this may be a first.

EurVoice reports back

A picture  and report back from the youth debate on Crime is now on the European Youth Parliament UK website.

You can link across and read more here.

I am the one in the white shirt.

I really enjoyed the event.

If you are a young person, or even if you are not (!), and you have questions for me do please e mail me at

TV interview on crime

While I was at the youth debate last week, Bay TV, the independent internet TV station in Liverpool, came and interviewed me.

This is a link to the interview.  The background is the entrance hall of Liverpool Town Hall.

Audit Committee members needed

When the new Police and Crime Commissioner is elected there'll be an audit committee which is partly for the Commissioner's office and partly for the police.

There's an advert out at the moment looking for potential committee members who might have the sort of expertise to play a part.

These ads tend not to get a lot of publicity so I am posting the link below

Victim Support

Last week I went along to meet Andy Hall from Victim Support.  I had always known about this organisation but it was great to have the chance to understand in a lot more depth what they do and how they support people.

I suspect most of the public will expect the Victim Support workers to all be staff, but in fact this is an organisation making heavy use of volunteers. 

We discussed a whole range of things including Hate Crime and people's perceptions of crime and safety.

It's obviously important to make sure that victims are not forgotten but its equally important to make sure they don't feel they are forgotten.

I'll be blogging again about this but for now here is a link to the organisation's national website which has lots more information about what they do.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Youth debate

Thanks to the people at EurVoice and the European Parliament for organising yesterday's panel debate on crime and safety.

I joined other panellists, who were from the Labour and Conservative parties, to answer questions from children and young people.

I was really impressed by the questioning and the fact of the event happening.  I hope everyone felt they got something out of it.  Certainly some of the questions and remarks gave us all food for thought.

Here's the link to the EurVoice page on the Youth Parliament website.  I know they'll be posting some pictures from the event also.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Families Fighting for Justice

I'm just back from a visit to the Families Fighting for Justice organisation in Kirkdale.

What a fascinating group of people.  It was great to hear about the work they do supporting people who've lost a relative through murder.  This means emotional support, but also advice and other help. 

I met a lovely lady whose son was murdered and so know knows all about the things that other people in her tragic situation will go through.  She and her colleagues must have made life a bit easier for others through just being available to talk and support

The organisation does more than invidual support though.  It also helps make people more aware of their legal rights (I certainly learned about an aspect of the law today) and campaigns on justice issues.

It also runs a group supporting children, which sounds great, if exhausting.

There may be a couple of things I can help them with in the future... so watch this space.

The organisation has a website so if you want to find out more you can look them up here.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Crime and Policing on the Wirral

Yesterday I was on the Wirral talking to local people about a whole range of crime and policing issues.

I also took time out to meet up with Councillor Phil Gilchrist to get his take on things.

I get the sense that there's likely to be lots for a new Police and Crime Commissioner to do, particularly when it comes to finding out what people actually believe is important.  People don't often volunteer their thoughts and concerns straight away which is why spending time is what matters.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Police and Crime Panel

When the Police and Crime Commissioners start work there will also be panels set up to look at some of the issues involved and to make sure there is some democratic scutiny of the work.

The panels will have Councillors on them but are also allowed to co opt other people on, who might be particular experts or members of the public with an interest.

Anyway, on Merseyside, the panel organisers have decided they want to co opt on two members of the public and are advertising for volunteers.

I have to say I don't think this advertising has been particularly good or active but if you are interested in the role, or just in finding out about more, here (below) is a link to the on line advert.  The deadline is mid October.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Why language matters

I had a letter the other day from the Howard League for Penal Reform.

The organisation was asking Police and Crime Commissioner candidates not to demonise young people in talking about crime and policing.

I know from my time as a Councillor for Cressington and continuing work in South Liverpool that there are times when people feel alarmed by groups of young people. And not all young people are angels of course.

But it's vital that this doesn't translate into blaming young people for everything

It's easy media (and sadly political) shorthand to imply that all our anti social behaviour problems would disappear if only the young people stayed inside.

But the problem with lazy language like that is not only is it unfair to the vast majority of young people, it also increases fear of crime among those who see them.

So I hope we'll all be minding our language in this campaign.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Listening to Young People

Next month I'll be discussing crime and crime issues with young people at an event at Liverpool Town Hall.

Its part of the Eurvoice programme organised by the European Youth Parliament.

The young people will be  having a chance to share their views and put questions to a group of panellists.  I will be one of the panellists.

The event's on October 16th.  There's some information about Eurvoice at this link.

I am really looking forward to this.  Media commentary on crime related things can often focus on young people as somehow the problem.  But in many areas young people are actually more likely to be victims of crime.

What are the public's priorities?

Some time ago I had a leaflet through  my door from the police.  If you live on Merseyside you should have had the same one.

It was part of an attempt by Merseyside Police to get people's thoughts on what their priorities are when it comes to policing, anti social behaviour, crime prevention and so on.

When you think how many people live on Merseyside, that's quite a big effort.

Yet the response rate (the number of people who sent things back) was less than two percent and that was actually up on previous years.

Commercial market researchers are used to relatively low responses and build this in to what they are doing.

But the whole issue of making our communities safe and protecting individuals and their freedoms is a tad more important than finding out what brand of shampoo we prefer.

This is not necessarily to criticise the police for doing it.  They have to do it by law and aside from that I do believe that Merseyside Police  make efforts to find out what the priorities and thoughts of their public are.

But, as someone who teaches Public Relations and Communications, it strikes me that the methods being used, or being visibly used, are not really getting to the bottom of what people think or feel.

One of the roles of the new Police and Crime Commissioner is effectively to be the public voice.  And you can't do that without putting huge efforts into finding out what people value and how people feel about safety in their communities.

I'll be blogging again about this but looking at the limited media coverage so far of these new roles it strikes me that this one seems rather overlooked.

Hate Crime

According to Home Office figures, analysed by the Guardian, of every thousand crimes recorded on Merseyside over a year, 14 of them were hate crimes.

Recording hate crimes as such is a fairly recent thing and they are clearly statistically quite rare (with numbers falling nationally)

But if you are the victim of one of these, or a witness, the fact that it's statistically rare won't be much of a comfort.

On Merseyside, by far the biggest category of Hate Crime are those around Race (more than one thousand)

(There is a definition of hate crime along with the figures and some analysis  in the Guardian article which you can find here)

This for me is one of those categories of crime where raising awareness and increasing understanding is part of the battle.  And as the role of Police and Crime Commissioner is about reducing crime, it's clearly important that this gets focused on.

Candidate Selected

I have been selected as the Liberal Democrat Candidate for the Elected Police and Crime Commissioner post in Merseyside.

This new role basically replaces the Police Authority.  The election takes place in November.

This blog will concentrate on what I am doing on the Campaign, on thoughts on police and crime related issues and on information about the role.