People want ex coppers or military for Police Commissioner, why are so many candidates politicians?
KEVIN HURLEY is running for Police Commissioner in Surrey. Here he explains why his years of experience and 'zero-tolerance' approach make him a better choice than yet more politicians.
I've worked in Surrey investigating murders, and done it in the inner city too. I've dealt with yobs, banged up burglars and given drug dealers a lot of porridge. Better still I've taken their criminal profits off them and fed it back into policing. Over the years I have become convinced that a zero tolerance approach to antisocial behaviour and criminality works.
With thirty years as a senior police officer in places varying from Baghdad to Brixton, I've seen a bit.
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Whilst borough commander at Hammersmith and Fulham we had the best performance against crime in the Metropolitan Police. In fact we closed more drug dens than all the forces in Wales combined. And because we took a firm approach to drug dealing, burglary and robbery fell too.
Though Hammersmith and Fulham might be considered an upmarket area of London, it's densely populated with some of the highest levels of social deprivation in the country. But during my time there, we didn't see the same level of antisocial behaviour we see elsewhere. Why? Because I backed and motivated my officers to go out to target the yobs and thieves. Criminals more than respected the police, they were scared of us.
But zero tolerance is not just about the yobs and criminals, it's also about the quality of the police product. I insisted on the highest standards of dress from my officers and expected them to combine this with courtesy and an ethos of service to all. I wanted them to speak to and listen to people, but at the same time I didn't want them to back away from confrontation. They understood that when the police 'negotiate or withdraw' in the face of the 'community' what they are actually seen to be doing is backing down to groups of aggressive and mouthy yobs. More important, the real community - the postal workers, nurses, elderly and others - would see us running away in the face of hostility. In short, our ethos was 'they didn't rule the street we did'.
Some might argue that such a positive approach could lead to disorder. In that case, why was this inner city borough the only one in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham or Birmingham not to experience any rioting last year? You've got it; putting the yobs in their place works. The ethos of zero tolerance meant that all the borough police went out on the streets and got in the faces of the hooligans. No one died, nothing got burnt or looted, but a good few got nicked.
People are urging me to run as an elected Police Commissioner in Surrey where I live. A survey by YouGov reckons 60 per cent of the public want an ex-police chief for the job.
What about the rest? Well, another 27 per cent would prefer a military officer. I've been a reservist army officer for 40 years with two tours in Iraq. That's 87% of public vote.
But even though YouGov reckon only 6% of the public want a politician as their Police Commissioner, nearly every candidate in the 41 seats is a councillor or tired old ex-MP. The politicians have gone against 94% of the people surveyed and picked their mates as candidates.
So I am running as an independent against this awesome political machine. I reckon I need at least £100K I haven't got to get my zero tolerance message out. I don't even get a free mailshot like the MP and council elections. How do I tell the electorate I'm here?