(See Colin’s letter to the Editor at the bottom of this article)
A former counter terrorism expert is standing as an independent candidate for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire with a vow to increase Police numbers, keep the Police service free from political interference and make Wiltshire a safer place to live and work.
Colin Skelton is committed to reducing crime to make Wiltshire the safest place to live and bring up a family. He is dedicated is to putting more Police Officers on the streets of Wiltshire by recruiting 300 new Police Officers.
“Wiltshire is dangerously short of Police Officers” Colin said, “and has the lowest ratio of Police to population anywhere in the country. This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency, so my main commitment is to recruit 300 new Police Officers. These new Officers will use the latest technology, such as predictive crime software, to drive crime down.”
Colin Skelton has been a career civil servant working in the areas of counter terrorist operations and training for the past 20 years. A local family man living in Salisbury, he has extensive experience of working with Police Services around the world such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as well as Police services across the United Kingdom. In addition he has frontline experience of British Policing having been a Special Constable with Wiltshire Police for the past four years.
“I am the only candidate who has any experience of frontline Policing, having supported regular colleagues over the past four years” stated Colin, “You can’t be an effective Commissioner without understanding the pressures on frontline Police Officers, PCSO’s and Police staff”.
Having lived and worked in Wiltshire for 20 years, Colin has extensive experience of helping others and contributing to the community. He served as a Samaritan volunteer and Deputy Director of Salisbury Samaritans for 10 years and has been a school governor at several Wiltshire schools, helping to drive up standards in the primary education system.
Colin’s other main Policing commitments are to:
• Target the 100 worst offenders in Wiltshire by introducing an enhanced offender management programme across the county and making best use of new technology
• Ring fence funding for the victims of rape and domestic abuse
• Make a commitment to reducing crime by 20%
Colin has produced a detailed Policing manifesto for Wiltshire which can be downloaded from his campaign website at www.skelton4wiltspcc.co.uk
Letter to the editor from Colin Skelton:
I’ve been asked by many people “why are you standing?” the answer has two parts, one positive and one negative; I’ll start with the positive.
Postive: This is a cliché, but I feel I could make a positive difference to people’s lives by helping to bring about a reduction in crime and ensuring Wiltshire is a safe place to live. Reducing crime is a tangible thing; it means fewer victims, less burglary, not so many broken bones and less pain and hurt. The results of this would be felt far and wide, there would be a reduced strain on our NHS, courts and councils.
There is considerable scope for reducing crime, not only in Wiltshire but across the UK. The past thirty years has thrown up a considerable amount of evidence based policy that has been shown to work. It’s just that we have either ignored it or implemented it poorly. There is a good example of this from Wiltshire Police regarding the Intergrated Offender Management (IOM) programme. The Home Office trialed this programme and found it a success. Wiltshire Police operate IOM, but in my opinion, they have not committed enough people to it. For the whole of Wiltshire there are about 6 Police Officers allocated managing about 100 offenders. I’m a skeptical fan of IOM, I think the Home Office overblows its success, but it has promise. I’d resource it properly and have about 30 Officers working on it, with 6 officers for every 20 offenders. Those officers could then really pursue, disrupt and prosecute offenders. It would be done properly.
I view the PCC role as wider than just the Police Service, the reduce crime mandate encompasses other aspects of our society, such as schooling. Again, the evidence is that early school intervention with troubled children pays dividends in keeping them away from crime. So I would also fund school based initiatives aimed at achieving this. This is not a quick fix; this is a decade long solution.
So the positive reason for standing is to make a difference, to make people’s lives better, safer and richer (in the widest sense possible).
Negative: I’ve always respected and admired the Police Service; it’s the best in the world bar none. I’ve been a Police Officer myself (as a Special Constable) and during my time I saw ordinary people in uniform doing heroic things that made a real positive difference to the public. Whether that was saving a seven-year old girl from being knocked over on a road or wrestling a man with a knife to the ground to stop him stabbing someone. Police Officers have helped people and saved life whilst putting theirs at risk. As a society we undervalue our Police Service.
However, we now stand to lose the most important aspects of our Police Service, such as Policing by consent and I don’t want that to happen. There is a perfect storm of a government ideologically wedded to doing the Police Service down and cutting funding; the politicisation of Policing and a threat from privatization.
Ideological government: The Government’s attitude towards the Police is appalling and they are wedded to a 20% cut in funding; this is the most severe cut of any part of the public sector. What does this mean for the Police Service in general and Wiltshire in particular? Across the UK this will mean the loss of nearly 20,000 Police Officers. And for Wiltshire this means we could lose 200 Police Officers out of a current total of 1000. There are about 200 Police Officers in Wiltshire who form the Neighbourhood Police Teams; Response Policing cannot be cut, so Neighbourhood Policing would have to be slashed or stop, there would be no more “bobby on the beat”.
Political Policing: I believe politics has no place in Policing and so did Robert Peel, whose fifth principle of Policing stated that “Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law”. Party political Commissioners will obliterate this principle and will govern in the interests of their party, the interests of local people will be secondary at best. Conservative or Labour Commissioners will eagerly adopt and implement their party’s respective cuts agenda or whatever policy is flavour of the month. The evidence from America of mixing politics with Policing is that it can drive down standards and at worst, paralyse Policing. We have ignored this lesson.
Privatisation: Finally, privatization is a threat. I am not against privatization per se and if you asked whether catering or building management should be done by the Police Service, I would say perhaps not. There is a case for the private sector to do that, so let’s look at the figures and make a careful and balanced judgment. However, the plans being drawn up by the government (which have so far cost £6 million) will mean that private security officers will patrol the streets, will eventually arrest you and will investigate you. This would be a fundamental change to our way of life in the UK, Policing by consent would be gone, and this should be resisted. Private companies will not be transparent and will be unaccountable to us, as deaths in custody involving private companies have shown.
Privatisation in Policing will be a disaster, expect abuse of power as poorly trained staff push the envelope of what is allowed; deaths in custody to rise as procedures fail and widespread corruption. Only criminals will benefit from a private security force within a UK Police Service.
So that is why I am standing as a politically free candidate, I cannot stand by and watch this happen to us.
Independent Candidate for Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner