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.