David Chinchen: We need to develop effective operational links between neighbourhood policing teams and our schools

2 Jul

David Chinchen is the Conservative candidate for South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner and a former Chief Superintendent.

I remember it well. Being approached at a school Summer Ball last year by the Chair of the Sheffield Conservative Federation to consider standing as the Conservative Candidate for the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election. After being selected in February 2020, everything of course changed as the loss of life and challenges of tackling a global pandemic have rightly put campaigning on hold.

I had retired from the Metropolitan Police Service in 2013 as Chief Superintendent and Borough Commander for Wandsworth. Having married a Yorkshire lass we moved to Sheffield and have made this our home with our daughter then studying at Sheffield University and our son now working as a legal apprentice in the city.

I am a newcomer to active politics and the Party but I bring a wealth of professional and life experience to this role. After leaving the police service I worked for several years in UK Visas and Immigration at Sheffield determining visa applications and gaining a valuable insight into the wider UK immigration system.

I come to this challenge with an ambition to make our police service and criminal justice system work better for us all. In 2008 I was appointed the operational lead for efforts to tackle the escalation of knife crime and teenage fatalities in London (Operation Blunt 2). I have seen the reality of violent crime on our streets and driven forward many of the tactics that make a difference. I have also seen much time and public money wasted. Its always useful to point out that the last spike in serious youth violence (2008-10) occurred after ten years of a Labour administration spending huge sums on youth services and related projects.

Whilst it is violent crime that should remain the focus of our collective efforts, I believe we should also be operating to re-build confidence in policing and criminal justice. We often hear of services being ‘victim-focused’ – but that is not the reality that the vast majority of people are experiencing.

This is why my plan starts with the restoration of neighbourhood policing. It is from this bedrock that we are best positioned to deploy most effectively all the capabilities of UK policing. All crimes have an impact upon local neighbourhoods and it is local neighbourhoods that provide us with the greatest opportunity to prevent and detect crime.

Just before lockdown, I attended an interesting round-table discussion hosted by the Federation of Small Businesses. Listening to very familiar accounts from retailers, small businesses, and sole traders, it is clear that our police service has neglected this area for many years. We must talk about ‘victim-impact’ differently. Protecting businesses that employ several people locally, or the tools and transport of a sole trader, should be our concern as the party of business and hard work. As we move cautiously towards a ‘new normality’ over the next few months, this focus on protecting businesses and livelihoods is even more important.

The impact of crime on our rural communities is also something that we should re-focus upon. I’m certainly not advocating a return to chasing down crime types but simply a greater recognition that bringing more offenders to justice will impact across the board – city, suburb, town, and village. UK policing has a reputation for being agile and flexible in its response to new crime threats and national emergencies. The challenge for me has always been about working cross-border and cross-organisation.

Whilst we know that policing and criminal justice is a complex business, I find that people on the doorstep are very traditional in outlook. Many talk about the ‘bobbies’ that everyone knew. They expect this local feel to policing and a service that operates to put things right when they become victims.

Finally, I believe we should be bold in seeking to reform and develop effective operational links between neighbourhood policing teams and our schools. These have worked well in the past where there is a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities.

When introduced in 2012 I was concerned about the PCC role, notably the danger of straying into operational direction for political purposes. I’m pleased to say that my concerns have proved to be unfounded and I can see the value of single accountable role for all matters relating to crime and community safety.

In South Yorkshire, the General Election knocked a huge hole in the ‘Red Wall’ and I don’t think these are borrowed votes. People here are responding well to our PM and a Home Secretary looking to deliver on crime and criminal justice. I have lost count of the times people have said ‘I’ve voted Labour all my life but I’m for Boris.’ When the conversation turns to crime and policing, my previous experience becomes a real asset. I’m convinced that the battle will be all about who the electorate trusts to make the most of the Government’s investment in policing and criminal justice. Whilst we cannot say when traditional campaigning will return, the growth of on-line conferencing and interactive events provide new opportunities to listen and put key messages across. It all bodes well for Thursday 6th May 2021.

Daniel Hannan: The police. Not institutionally racist, but institutionally woke.

24 Jun

Daniel Hannan is a writer and columnist. He was a Conservative MEP from 1999 to 2020, and is now President of the Initiative for Free Trade.

The police have had an unusually bad lockdown. They began by being bossy and officious, ticking people off for buying luxury items or walking too slowly in parks or even (in one incident in Rotherham that was caught on camera) for being in their own garden. But when Black Lives Matter took to the streets, they promptly forgot all about the restrictions. Far from ordering protesters to disperse, they looked on as mobs carried out flagrant acts of vandalism.

In Bristol, a superintendent refused to prevent criminal damage to the Colston statue because “we know that it has been an historical figure that has caused the black community quite a lot of angst over the last couple of years.” (Perhaps so – but it was hardly his call to make, was it?)

In London, officers were pulled out of Parliament Square, allowing vandals to fall on the statues there – including that of Abraham Lincoln, commemorated for having freed America’s slaves. Last weekend, we reached a new low, as a Met officer, in effect, pleaded with people to break the law in a considerate manner.

“First and foremost we want people to be safe, and would encourage you to stay at home,” said Commander Alex Murray. “However, if you feel compelled to come and have your voice heard, we would say please remain socially distant, we don’t want people to get ill; and, more than that, please do not engage in any violence.”

Demonstrations, of course, were banned – a fact the Met clung to obsessively when protesters were complaining about the lockdown. But, when a different set of protesters started to demonstrate about the atrocity in Minneapolis, police chiefs were reduced to asking people who felt “compelled” to break the law to do so non-violently. It was hard not to think of Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons: “Can’t you people take the law into your own hands?”

The problem of the PC PC – the politically correct police constable – goes back to the Blair years, and there can be something quite funny about heavy-handed attempts by rozzers to be woke. But there is nothing funny about the consequences. In 2011, the Met refused to impede a crowd engaging in mass looting in Tottenham, because the pillage had theoretically begun as an anti-racist protest. Images of officers standing by while people smashed their way into shops flashed around the country and, the next day, there was looting across British cities.

To call the police institutionally racist, these days, is wide of the mark. Yes, there are individual racists in uniform: with more than 120,000 police officers in the UK, some bad behaviour is statistically inevitable. But, far from being institutionally racist – that is, being an institution where racism is a norm – the police, these days, are institutionally woke, in the sense that their leaders elevate race relations above what ought to be their core functions, such as protecting property, securing public order and enforcing the law impartially.

To be fair, the police are operating within a society which has taken to applying a different test when it comes to self-proclaimed anti-racism. This is most obvious in the tone of our broadcasters. When BLM thugs turned violent, the BBC produced the ludicrous headline, “27 police officers injured during largely peaceful anti-racism protests in London”. The following week, when a different set of thugs turned violent, it had the more conventional headline, “London protests: more than 100 arrests after violent clashes with police.”

Our state broadcaster is faithfully representing the double-standard of our intellectual elites. Epidemiologists who back the lockdown in all other circumstances say it’s fine to violate its terms as long as you are demonstrating for BLM. Conservationists who normally insist on protecting monuments declare that it is fine to remove statues. Academic institutions that are meant to defend intellectual rigour concede that, if someone’s feelings are hurt, accuracy no longer matters.

These are the political waters in which our coppers are swimming. The Met is answerable to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who condemns the ludicrous statue defenders while refusing to condemn BLM violence – a failure which, in normal times, would disqualify him from office.

But these are not normal times. As sometimes happens when there is a plague (or at least the perceived threat of a plague) we are gripped by a form of end-of-days cultism, which brooks no dissent. Intimidated by the self-righteousness of campaigners, few politicians dare to step into the path of the mob. MPs from all parties feel the need to qualify their condemnations of violence with vague support for the demonstrators’ aims. Several of them literally bend the knee.

To the best of my knowledge, not a single Police and Crime Commissioner has spoken out, either against the excessively heavy-handed way in which the lockdown is enforced for everyone else, or against the refusal even to pretend to enforce it on the protesters.

Police, protesters, politicians, pundits – all are caught up in the general madness. Indeed, everyone seems to be going through a millenarian spasm. Everyone, that is, except the general population, which remains as level-headed as ever.