The Thames Valley’s first police and crime commissioner unveiled a Buckinghamshire man as his deputy and pledged to tackle alcohol and drug-related offences at his first official meeting (writes Andrew Kay).
At a meeting in Aylesbury Anthony Stansfeld announced that he wanted Bucks county councillor David Carroll, 58, of Wycombe, to support him as he decides how best to spend the force’s budget of more than £350 million.
The Bucks Herald understands that Mr Carroll, a former Bucks magistrate, will be based in Aylesbury one day a week and act as the main point of contact across the county.
He will also deputise in Mr Stansfeld’s absence at meetings across the Thames Valley.
This morning in Aylesbury’s Oculus Mr Stansfeld, who will earn £85,000 a year, held his first meeting with the group of councillors from across the region who will scrutinise his work.
The group will meet around eight times a year in different locations.
Unveiling his choice for deputy, Mr Stansfeld, of Newbury, said: “I need somebody who understands Bucks, who has played a part in Buckinghamshire’s life, understands the work of the police and has a background in the criminal justice system.
“I need somebody I can bounce ideas off within my office and I need a ‘critical friend’.”
Mr Carroll’s appointment will last two years. Mr Stansfield’s term in office will last three-and-a-half.
The councillor, who represents Hazelmere, was born in a council house in Wycombe and left school at 15 to embark on an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker.
He then built a cleaning company from scratch and in 1987 was put forward to become a magistrate because of his community work.
After his appointment, Mr Carroll said: “I’m very much a community person and I think that is what the key to this job will be.
“I come from the grass roots socially and I am proud of that up bringing.
“It is an honour for me and Wycombe and Bucks as a whole to be given this position, being a local person.”
Mr Carroll, who helped Mr Stansfeld during the election campaign, believes he stood out as a potential deputy for his work in the wake of the 2005 London bombing in which the terrorists had Buckinghamshire connections.
He created a community engagement plan, which has since been used as an example of national best practice to bring people together.
Pam Pearce, Aylesbury Vale District Council’s cabinet member for communities, who is on the new police board, said Mr Carroll’s appointment will ‘give a lot of people comfort because he is from Bucks and they will feel more connected to the process’.
Mr Stansfeld today told the group of councillors that tackling alcohol and drugs issues would be among his main priorities.
Since his election three weeks ago, he has been ‘inundated’ with letters and emails from people wanting him to tackle issues such as anti social behaviour in both towns and villages.
He said: “The main thing the police can do to reduce crime is to catch the people responsible.
“But I think the inherent reduction in crime is done with other agencies.
“It starts with parents, then schools and councils and the criminal justice system. I am very conscious of how much things like the safer community partnerships can contribute.”
The commissioner said he also wanted to focus efforts on tackling rural crime and support the work of drug and alcohol teams - claiming they in turn help reduce burglary rates.
Chief Constable Sara Thornton told the meeting she did not expect her working relationship with the commissioner to be ‘cosy’ and instead it will be professional - stressing that she will still comment on operational and day-to day policing matters.
Mr Stansfeld, who has the power to hire and fire the chief constable, said: “As a political figure I have a more powerful voice to speak for the force. For example I am able to say publicly if I think things are wrong, which would be difficult for the police to do.”
One of the first discussions that will take place involve PCSOs.
The Thames Valley currently has 417 entirely police funded PCSOs, which will remain safe. But questions remain about a further 100, which are funded jointly by the police and other agencies. Chief constable Thornton is recommending that these posts are not renewed.
Mr Stansfeld also suggested that he would consider sharing more resources with other forces, saying: “There’s more that could be done.”
Thames Valley currently shares its roads policing and will soon share its firearms unit.
Mr Stansfeld revealed that he expects the Government on December 19 to confirm what next year’s budget will be.
He said: “I will not change the existing budget, but will find out what’s working and what is not working before taking spending decisions.”
He also pledged to visit each of the 18 councils in the Thames Valley police area and the various divisions of the force.