In profile: Independent police and crime commissioner candidate Stephen Bett

Stephen Bett speaks after he won the election to become Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner. Pic

Stephen Bett speaks after he won the election to become Norfolk's Police and Crime Commissioner. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

Police and crime commissioner elections will be held on May 5. Norfolk independent candidate STEPHEN BETT sets out his vision for the role.

QWith cuts to the central government policing grant, should Norfolk taxpayers see further increases to their council tax bill in the years ahead beyond those already planned?

A My aim will always be to reduce the burden to us all as taxpayers, however, I do not know what further government cuts might come our way. Residents can be assured, however, that budgets are well managed: indeed, the 2016 national inspections assessed us as outstanding for our sustainable financial position. As your PCC I have a proven track record and have already overseen £25m of savings by Norfolk Constabulary. I will continue to investigate more opportunities to share services, review all our assets and work hard to protect our front line.

QThe home secretary has indicated she would like to see more powers handed to police and crime commissioners, such as control of fire services. Would you like to see the PCC given more powers? If so, which ones?


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AYes, in fact the Policing and Crime Bill 2016 brings about new powers over emergency services collaboration, police complaints and integrity. I would like to see the complaints process overhauled making it more transparent and easier to understand. I would like to set shared priorities with criminal justice partners to enable the PCC to further support victims, witnesses and offenders.

I am already working with Norfolk County Council, sharing headquarters with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. I am also exploring opportunities for shared services with trading standards and public health bodies.

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QWhat will you do in the job day to day? Where will you be based?

AI will hold the chief constable to account for performance, manage budgets and further embed and investigate more opportunities for shared services to deliver more savings to protect neighbourhood policing. The PCC office is in Wymondham, but the job is not about being stuck in an office, it is a county-wide role. I will continue to be visible, listen and represent the Norfolk electorate's views.

I will work closely with businesses providing them with the confidence to invest in our county and support local jobs. I will listen to officers at the coal face. The job is about being accessible 24 hours a day seven days a week.

QYou will have significant other resources to be used to fund initiatives and services designed to prevent crime and improve community safety. How will you decide how to cut that cake?

AI have an evidence-based approach to the way initiatives and services are funded. I listen to local issues and work with the police to understand current demands and where my funding can make the biggest impact.

My priorities will be victims and witnesses, domestic abuse and sexual violence, rehabilitation of offenders, mental health, drugs

and alcohol. I am proud to have supported 55 organisations

during my term as PCC and if elected would deliver the same approach.

QWhat do you plan to be your main contribution to improving the performances of the services that you will lead, fund or influence?

ANorfolk is already recognised as high performing, but it can get better through working more efficiently with other forces, local authorities and voluntary organisations. I will lobby the government for more funding to protect our services from more cuts.

I will continue to fund organisations which help support and reduce demand: for example, placing mental health nurses in the control room to work alongside officers. I will also build on the relationship with the fire service to deliver shared operation improvements.

QWhat do you see as the biggest crime issues facing the region?

AThe three biggest crime threats are:

Terrorism and how we deal with combatting the threat of extremists

The disproportionate increase in abuse of women

The emerging threat of cyber-related crime.

As your PCC I am currently working at a regional level with all PCCs sharing intelligence to help us share resources and respond to threats.

QGiven the closer cooperation between Norfolk and Suffolk, is there a case for a single PCC for both counties, and if the three county devolution package unfolds will the PCC's role need to be altered?

AI have a long history of being committed to a regional approach to policing. This, I believe, allows us to benefit from economies of scale while maintaining the local touch. I have never been one to hide from change and if there are calls to alter the role for the benefit of Norfolk people then I am supportive.

QWith scarce resources are there any current services the police provide which you believe they could or should stop doing?

AFor me it is really not about stopping services, it is much more about protecting our front line, building on our collaboration work to date and working more efficiently and effectively. This should be done in discussion with all our key partners, including other police forces in the region, the fire service and bodies for safegaurding and the vulnerable .

The 2020 review of services in Norfolk is looking at total demand to ensure the chief constable is deploying resources appropriately. The results of this work will be available early this summer.

QHow important do you think it is to the public that there is a visible police presence on the streets and do you believe under your watch you can maintain that?

AI am very committed to maintaining and investing further in neighbourhood policing, as this is the foundation upon which the policing model is built. Visible policing reduces the fear of crime, improves business confidence, supports inward investment and its value to local people both in rural and urban areas should never be underestimated. The work with the chief constable must continue after the election, ensuring that Norfolk 2020 reviews all aspects of policing in the future and continues to recognise the importance of a policing presence on the streets.

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