Five candidates who hope to become the Sussex police and crime commissioner (PCC) are standing for election on Thursday 6 May.
They are the incumbent Katy Bourne (Conservative) and four challengers – Jamie Bennett (Liberal Democrat), Kahina Bouhassane (Green), Paul Richards (Labour and Co-operative) and Roy Williams (Independent).
Each candidate was sent a dozen questions which were submitted by community groups and voters.
Below are the responses from Conservative candidate Katy Bourne.
Why do you want to be the police and crime commissioner for Sussex?
What will you bring to the role?
Having served as Sussex police and crime commissioner since 2012, I have the experience and proven track record to continue making a difference to policing our county.
As PCC, I have
- robustly held the police to account on behalf of residents, successfully supported victims of crime and invested heavily in frontline policing.
- driven the biggest rise in police officer numbers, with more frontline officers now in the force than when I was re-elected in 2016. Sussex Police has now restored neighbourhood policing and recruited even more PCSOs.
- established a ground-breaking, early-intervention scheme called Reboot for 11 to 17-year-olds which has dealt with over 1,000 young people – and 82 per cent have not re-offended since.
- delivered on rural and business community crime concerns with a dedicated rural crime team and a Sussex Safer Business Partnership.
- reduced the non-emergency 101 call waiting times by 75 per cent.
- ensured Sussex Police treat road safety and anti-social behaviour seriously.
- directed millions of pounds to support all victims of crime, divert young people from harm and helped communities protect themselves, especially women and girls.
My six-point plan – more police, safer streets
- Continue to cut crime, catch more criminals, fight drugs gangs, county lines and serious violence and reduce reoffending – making everyone safer in Sussex
- Further recruitment of officers and PCSOs to increase frontline policing and make it more visible
- More action on rural crime, including continued investment into our rural crime team and expansion of the “DISC” app reporting pilot for farmers and rural businesses
- Investment in roads policing to tackle anti-social driving and speeding
- Make shops and businesses safer places to work by establishing a dedicated business crime team within Sussex Police
- Support victims of crime, especially our elderly and young, and protect our most vulnerable from all forms of abuse
What is it that a commissioner can do that a Police and Crime Panel can’t – and does the extra cost incurred by the office of the PCC provide value for money?
I’m not sure if you mean the old Police Authority (which the PCC role replaced in 2012) or the Police and Crime Panels that now exist whose role it is to scrutinise the PCC’s decisions and be a “critical friend”?
In either case, a PCC can provide swifter decision-making and true accountability to local people. PCCs are elected on a manifesto that is tested by the electorate. Police authorities were largely invisible to the public and the public rarely engaged with them.
PCC offices remain small by comparison to departments within local authorities.
PCCs have many more statutory duties and responsibilities than police authorities ever had.
Some PCCs, like me, have secured millions of pounds of additional funding for policing, for prevention and diversionary activities and for community safety programmes.
As PCC for Sussex, I have built a model of commissioning services for victims that has been used across the country and is considered by the Ministry of Justice to be good practice.
As PCC, I am not interested in long committee meetings and drawn-out debates, which was the hallmark of the previous police authority system. I want to address problems now and make a real difference.
Over the past eight years, I have engaged with hundreds of thousands of people and ensured their concerns and ideas have been listened to and acted on by Sussex Police.
For example, I established the award-winning youth commission to listen to the voices of our young people, the country’s first ever elders commission so that the opinions of our older generation would be counted and the Safer Sussex Business Partnership to improve the response to crime within our business community.
Domestic abuse was not a high priority for the force: within two years, I had ensured the force achieved “white ribbon” status.
Knife crime stats were suspiciously low – I challenged that and got under the bonnet of force crime recording. The same goes for stalking.
There is also now one of the largest dedicated rural crime police teams in the south east.
Should PCCs serve only two terms, like American presidents? What grounds are there for serving more than two terms as PCC?
The two roles are not in the slightest bit comparable. The public should decide whether they deem an incumbent PCC worthy of re-electing for a further term.
In the UK, many local councillors and MPs have been re-elected many times over because their constituents trust them to represent them effectively and fairly.
What would you say to those migrants, refugees and people from black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities who are wary of the police? How would you respond to concerns that stop and search affects some communities disproportionately?
I have absolute confidence in our Chief Constable Jo Shiner and her top team of mostly senior female officers to provide policing for Sussex residents that is rooted in public consent and delivered without fear or favour.
As PCC, I have extensively scrutinised Sussex Police’s stop and search approach and its impact over the past year, and I can find no evidence of any institutional bias or structural racism.
That is not to say that all ethnic minority communities have 100 per cent confidence in the police here or in any other part of the UK which is why, if re-elected, I will continue to closely scrutinise and monitor this area of policing.
It is true that, in order to police effectively and maintain public consent, all police forces must reflect the communities they police.
Sussex Police is no different and they are trying very hard to recruit from more diverse communities to increase participation and confidence.
The most recent detective intake showed Sussex was well ahead of the national average for BAME applicants.
Vigils for Sarah Everard and protests by Extinction Rebellion and the Black Lives Matter movement have ended with riot police dragging people away while the English Defence League and other far-right groups are handled with kid gloves. How would you balance responses to different protests?
That’s not been the case in Sussex, and the recent police watchdog HMICFRS’s (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services) detailed report into the policing of the vigils clearly showed that politicians and commentators had been far too quick to judge the police based on what others had already said and based on selectively edited video clips.
Protests are an important part of our democracy. Under human rights law, we all have the right to gather and express our views but these rights are not absolute rights.
I absolutely support the right to protest. I don’t support the right to destroy property or intimidate local residents or to bring normal business to a standstill.
How will you ensure that women and girls are safe from male violence and abuse in their schools, on the streets and in their homes?
Firstly, let’s not accept the generalisation that all men are violent predators.
Not all men harass women in public spaces and the vast majority of our fathers, brothers, husbands and sons want their female relations and friends to be able to walk the streets without fear or intimidation.
Sussex Police were praised by the Home Secretary and peer forces for the way they reached out to domestic abuse victims during the pandemic.
They are quite rightly also recognised for their endeavours to tackle stalking with the highest per-capita deployment of stalking protection orders in the country.
As PCC, I am working with our local women and girls’ service providers and we have already developed the first ever, pan-Sussex framework for how these services should be delivered.
If re-elected, I intend to provide more preventative measures to address this issue, for example, teaching young people in educational establishments about healthy, positive relationships and also developing the ground-breaking perpetrator programmes I have already introduced that effectively tackle the perpetrator’s behaviour.
I will also continue directing significant funding into domestic and serious sexual abuse services. This year alone, I have successfully secured £3.4 million of government funding for our Sussex-based organisations and victims.
How will you work with Sussex Police to learn from cases like Shana Grice’s murder, making sure officers are trained and women are taken seriously when they report crimes.
The tragic circumstances surrounding Ms Grice’s murder will be the reminder for us all that stalking is an insidious crime which must never be overlooked.
I commissioned Sussex’s first specialist stalking advocacy service who work with hundreds of victims and ensured that all Sussex Police officers receive training to recognise and understand stalking.
As the PCC, I have also worked hard with Sussex Police so they are now recognised nationally as the leading force in this area but there is always more to do.
I am currently the national stalking lead on behalf of all PCCs and, if re-elected, I will continue to work with chief constables, government ministers and women’s organisations to develop a better response from police forces nationally so all victims feel confident to report.
How do we get the police to work with councils, to patrol where and at the times we want them to?
We already have community safety partnerships and city partnerships bringing together local councillors, police, health, education, housing and other relevant organisations where local concerns can be discussed and analysed.
The operational deployment of police resources must always remain at the sole discretion of police commanders and, ultimately, the Chief Constable as set out in law.
However, my regular and extensive engagement with parish, district, borough, city and county councillors does help provide a detailed picture of the crime and anti-social hotspots that flare up and helps inform a proportionate, local policing response.
How do you think Sussex Police can balance the policing needs of its busy urban areas without neglecting country villages?
Sussex Police have transformed their policing of rural and more isolated communities with the introduction of the largest, dedicated rural policing team in the south east.
This has been enthusiastically welcomed by landowners, farmers and residents, and it has already secured notable successes in recovering stolen agricultural machinery, solving heritage crimes and investigating dog thefts and reuniting stolen pets with their worried owners.
If re-elected, I will continue investment in this area to keep our rural places safe.
How committed are you to ensuring that the police enforce the 2004 Hunting Act?
Police have to enforce the laws that Parliament passes and I will continue to scrutinise and hold them to account if re-elected as PCC.
How will you tackle drug-related crime?
There are more police officers and more police staff available to tackle drug-related crime at every level – from cannabis farms to county lines runners and the major crime gangs who are behind importation and distribution.
We need to remind the casual drug user about the misery trail behind their weekend joint, their pills and lines of coke.
We need to prosecute people for drink and drug driving.
We need to educate and support young people who see drug dealing as an easy win to cash and status.
We also need to take a health and prevention approach as we are with Project Adder in Hastings, but we also need to make our towns and villages and our road networks no-go areas for drug dealing.
The new police enforcement units that have been funded by extra precept investment will make criminals think twice about using the roads for distribution – and major joint operations with the National Crime Agency and Border Force are making sure our ports and airports are constantly alert to larger shipments.
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