Lib Dem candidate in police and crime commissioner election wants more officers

Jamie Bennett

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 Lib Dem candidate Jamie Bennett.

Why do you want to be the police and crime commissioner for Sussex?

Sussex Police has been let down by the Conservatives for the past nine years, with budgets being cut and officer numbers decreasing.

I want to help repair this situation until the government realise the PCC role is not fit for purpose and scraps the position making the police independent from politics once again.

What will you bring to the role?

I will work hard for the community I serve and not just follow direction from the government or a political party.

Our police need the freedom to work for the community and not be used as a party political chess piece.

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?

No, the PCC role should not have been introduced by the government and the Police and Crime Panel would be a much better and cheaper use of the police budget.

Should PCCs serve only two terms, like American presidents? What grounds are there for serving more than two terms as PCC?

I believe the role should be scrapped but if the government can’t see the errors in the role, then yes, I believe eight years (two terms) should be a maximum.

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?

Unfortunately, this is an issue nationally and needs urgent action. No one should be wary of the police and I will work with all community groups and the police to bridge the gap and ensure all members of our innocent community feel comfortable contacting the police.

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?

We all have the right to protest and the police need to treat all protests with the same force unless there is intelligence which would require a further response.

I believe the Extinction Rebellion, Black Lives Matter and Kill the Bill protests have been unfairly managed by the police.

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?

More police are needed to engage and reassure people. Since 2010 police numbers have decreased by over 15 per cent, according to the ONS (Office for National Statistics), with less police officers and more crime.

The service is stretched and unable to provide a prevention service in schools, etc.

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.

It’s vital that all Sussex Police staff are fully trained and in order to do this we need to invest the money in the personal development of all our officers and as I have said many times increase the numbers of officers in order to do this.

How do we get the police to work with councils, to patrol where and at the times we want them to?

As stated in answer five, we need more police, and they need to work with all local councils instead of just reacting to events.

I have been a councillor for over 11 years and have seen a large decrease in police and council engagement.

Councillors know the areas better than most people and can provide so much intelligence.

How do you think Sussex Police can balance the policing needs of its busy urban areas without neglecting country villages?

Increase the police numbers for a start – a 15 per cent decrease in 11 years with crimes increasing is a complete dereliction of duty by the PCC.

How committed are you to ensuring that the police enforce the 2004 Hunting Act?

This is a law that the police don’t have time to enforce because they don’t have the resources but they need to crack down on it.

Hunting is illegal and needs to be stopped. Would the police ignore drink driving in the same way they ignore the Hunting Act law?

How will you tackle drug-related crime?

Drugs are a serious issue within our community but I believe the government needs to look at the current drug classifications and the actions police are allowed to take.This includes the sentencing for drug crimes as people are not scared about being caught at the moment.

For more information visit …
www.facebook.com/jamiebennettArun
@jamieben120689

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