Thursday, 18 October 2012

Police and Crime Commissioner Elections

This week nominations closed for candidates putting themselves forward for the election to decide who will become the first Police and Crime Commissioner for the Devon and Cornwall Police Force, and in just four weeks time, local people will have the opportunity to vote for the candidate they think is best placed to cut crime.

The powerful new, elected role will replace the largely invisible Police Authorities that went before. The old Police Authority was drawn from local councils but members of it were never in a position to genuinely hold the Chief Constable to account and hardly anyone could name the chairman of the Police Authority. That is about to change.

There are no less than ten candidates standing for the role in Devon and Cornwall which shows that, whatever the critics might say, enthusiasm for the idea is starting to pick up as election day nears. I have always argued that this is a brand new role and will be an election unlike normal general elections so we need a different sort of candidate to do the job well. I was involved a year ago in trying to encourage talented people with experience outside conventional politics to throw their hat in the ring and stand as the Conservative candidate and we found just the man for the job.

Tony Hogg was the Commanding Officer at RNAS Culdrose and has experience of managing a large budget of over £80 million and leading a military base with 3000 personnel. He saw active service in the Falklands conflict where he was a helicopter pilot and he captained a group of minesweeper ships during the first gulf war. In 1978, he was decorated for his role in an audacious rescue operation of a stricken trawler off the Cornish coast. Although he lives in Cornwall, he spent some of career based in Devonport and he trained at Dartmouth, so he understands Devon too. After leaving the Navy, he went on to become the Chief Executive of BF Adventure which provides outward bound courses to drill discipline and confidence into young teenagers who have had a hard start in life and who are at risk of being excluded from school.

Because he worked in the Navy at the most senior level, he understands the forces and knows how to lift morale within the team. I think this is incredibly important because the police force is going through many changes at present and we need clear leadership to boost morale. But his experience in the charity sector means that he also understands that to cut crime, we need early intervention to turn around the lives of young people. It is a winning combination which makes him ideal for the post.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.