Monday, October 15, 2012
Police commissioner candidate Steve Morphew insists he would be “foolish” to pretend the role is clear enough to be sure he could make promises he can keep.
But the Labour nominee launched his 10-point manifesto today outlining his aims and ambitions should he be elected as police and crime commissioner (PCC) on November 15.
They include raising the police’s share of the council tax by no more than 10p a week each year, approximately a 3pc increase for band D taxpayers, no privatisation of policing services and fighting against further government cuts.
Mr Morphew says he also wants to make the service more “victim-focused” to serve their needs better, with a senior member of staff appointed to the commissioner’s team with a special responsibility for victim services.
He added today rural, coastal and urban communities are entitled to enjoy “equal peace of mind”, with the police attempting to meet the priorities of different communities.
But Mr Morphew, former leader of Norwich City Council, says in his nine-page manifesto: “I would be foolish to pretend the position is clear enough to make promises I am sure I can keep.
“This is a new role with too many unknowns, a weak economy and uncertain, hostile government policy. But as I am asking people to trust me with their vote I must set out the things I pledge to try to achieve, the values that underpin them and the things I expect to be judged by.
“If I am not going to be able to do the things I say, the Norfolk community is entitled to know and have a say in the alternatives.”
There are three other candidates planning to stand for the PCC role.
They are Conservative Jamie Athill, independent Stephen Bett and Liberal Democrat James Joyce.
A full list of candidates will be published next Tuesday.
One issue the commissioner will have to deal with is cash cuts to the force.
Norfolk Constabulary needs to save £24.5 million by 2015, and made cuts of £22.6m between April 2009 and 2012.
There were 115 fewer police officers serving in the county in March 2012 than in 2010, and 21 fewer Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), according to figures released in parliament.
Mr Morphew said today the cuts were too fast, too soon, but believes it is important to be efficient with the available resources, while also working better with the NHS, councils and voluntary groups.
He said other ideas included setting up an “innovations group” to work with community representatives to find ways of tackling issues, such as providing activities to children without youth services.
Mr Morphew said: “I do think the cuts in policing are false economy. If there are increases in the fear of crime then that’s bad for people’s health and a healthy social outlook.
“If there are increases in crime, police have to spend a lot of money catching people and putting them through the criminal justice system and pay for them to be punished. From the householders’ and motorists’ point of view, it pushes up the insurance.”
Mr Morphew said he thought more people would want to pay a little extra in the police’s share of the council tax to avoid paying more to “clear up the mess afterwards”.
He was joined outside Norwich train station today by Norwich South MP candidate Clive Lewis, Norwich North candidate Jess Asato, East of England MEP Richard Howitt and fellow party activists.
They were collecting signatures for a petition calling for early morning restriction orders to stop shops selling alcohol between 3am and 6am.
Euro MP Mr Howitt backed Mr Morphew’s PCC bid, insisting the party’s nominee was a “thoughtful visionary and responsible politician”.
Mr Howitt said: “We all know rural crime is a huge challenge, as much as problems in our towns and cities at the same time. I spend a lot of time knocking on doors around Norfolk. There’s no demand to cut police numbers or to outsource police jobs, which in reality is privatisation.”