New Lancashire police boss warns crooks: 'I'm out to get you...'
Andrew Snowden has a blunt message for the criminals who bring misery to communities across Lancashire: “I’m out to get you.”
The county’s new Police and Crime Commissioner is pledging to get tough on lawbreakers, from those committing low-level anti-social behaviour to brutal county lines drug gangs.
After his election victory last week, the former county councillor warned offenders he would be looking to bring “all the available resources and powers that are needed to catch you, to bring you to account and to bring you to justice.”
A week on, after sitting down with the Constabulary top brass, his resolve is even greater. Voters, he says, prefer the Conservative approach to being tough on law and order and just want someone to stand up and tackle crime.
That, he believes, is why he was able to oust Labour’s Clive Grunshaw from the £86,700-a-year job, turning round a 34,000 majority in the process.
“All I can say to the electorate is a big ‘thank you’ and I hope to repay their trust with hard work,” he said. “During my campaign I saw the anger in rural areas about being abandoned and they backed me wholeheartedly. People just felt let down.
“It showed in the local elections. Labour hasn’t done enough for them and now it’s time for a change.”
Commissioner Snowden has already presented his list of priorities to new Chief Constable Chris Rowley. Among them are addressing anti-social behaviour, rural offences, county lines drug gangs and other organised crime. He also wants to put more bobbies on the frontline and strengthen neighbourhood policing.
But he admits that, while all the things on his wish list will be difficult due to financial constraints, he believes they are still achievable.
“Getting additional officers won’t be easy, but I think it’s doable,” he said. “That was the overlying tone when I first met with the Chief Constable - a lot of the things I want to work on won’t be easy, but they are doable.
"What I will guarantee though is that there will be more bobbies on the beat when I leave this job than there were when I started.”
Commissioner Snowden, who has started a four-year term, says anti-social behaviour was one of the biggest concerns expressed to him when he was on the campaign trail.
“It’s what I would class as low-level anti-social behaviour that intimidates and changes the feel of local communities and areas,” he explained.
“It is not the serious stuff that means that police have to drop everything and dash off to deal with it. But it is that that people feel goes unchallenged at the moment and makes them feel less safe.
“Also rural areas feel abandoned and I can understand why. I have had a chat with the chief and his deputy about how we can build on our rural taskforce to tackle that. Another thing I want to focus on is speeding and making sure our roads are safe.
“And finally county lines drug gangs and organised crime, particularly as we are surrounded by Liverpool and Manchester and it creeps into Lancashire. I want to make sure the police have the resources to tackle it.
“Overall my message has got to be: I will back the police and say to them ‘go get them.’ They will have my 100 per cent backing in dealing with them (gangs).”
Bolton-born, Andrew Snowden lives in Chorley with his wife Caroline and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
He stood down from his job at Salford University to take up the Commissioner role and also relinquished his seat on Lancashire County Council where he represented Hoghton with Wheelton.
In this month’s local elections he stood unsuccessfully for a seat on Rossendale Council, a position he felt he could manage alongside his full-time job as Police Commissioner.
“I couldn’t have remained on the county council because of my workload, but district council was possible. It was a Labour seat. I didn’t get in but I came very close.”
As Commissioner he wants to fight Lancashire’s corner with regular visits to Westminster and has already been in contact with local Tory MPs.