Working with people vital to keeping us safe A career of fighting crime
We live in troubled times, the situation in Syria and Iraq shows no sign of improving, and the repercussions affect us all in Lancashire.
My experience of policing in Blackpool began with the party conferences in 1985, after the Brighton bomb killed five people and nearly killed the Prime Minister.
I, along with thousands of other officers, provided protection to the delegates and to the people of Blackpool.
There was a real threat another terrorist attack would happen. As I progressed in my police career I took on more and more responsibility for ensuring the safety of the town and the visitors.
Lancashire, and in particular Blackpool and the people of Blackpool, were trusted to host the party conferences for many years.
Having served in the police for 28 years, in county, regional and national levels, as well as being involved in the counter-terrorism strategy for the UK, I know just how important community support is.
The threat is different now but one thing I have learned over the years, is that we can only deliver a secure and safe community with the help, co-operation and support of the people of the county.
Of course this has to be coupled with the ability to tackle any threat in a robust and effective manner. Our Government is doing that, and support for the armed forces, commitment to NATO and an effective police service is absolutely essential.
I applaud the Government’s commitment to invest in counter-terrorism, I also believe that to defeat terrorism we have to work with communities. The lessons from Northern Ireland have taught us this.
Since leaving the police five years ago I have dedicated myself to voluntary work - mainly supporting vulnerable young people and working with all communities across Lancashire. If we are to counter the effect of the ISIS/Al Qaeda propaganda, we must connect with and work with communities to arrest offenders and prevent people being drawn into violence.
A career of fighting crime
My motivations for joining the Lancashire Constabulary in 1982 came from the inner city riots of 1981 in Liverpool and Manchester.
I wanted to make a difference and help to bring some peace to our communities. My motivation hasn’t changed now I am the Conservative candidate for the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner elections in May.
I started as a constable in Bamber Bridge, and after three years moved to be a detective constable in Preston, followed with promotion to uniform sergeant in Blackburn.
It was 1986 and burglaries were at an all-time high – nearly 300 in one month.
Then things began to change in the 90s and I was promoted to inspector at Fleetwood. We connected more with the needs of the public and the focus on targeting repeat offending started.
In 1992, I moved to HQ and re-wrote the whole way we recruit officers. I ensured the job description started with the aim of ‘seeking the truth at the scene of a crime’.
I was promoted to chief inspector in 1999 and took charge of policing in Blackburn, staying there until 2005.
This time was particularly fruitful in partnership working, and I was responsible for changing the whole way we dealt with people arrested for drug misuse and arresting people for child sexual exploitation. Both set the way for the rest of the country to follow.
Developing the police and partners’ response to hate crime was one area of focus when I was a superintendent.
In 2007 I was seconded to London and was one of the authors of the community’s response to counter terrorism.
Our police service is excellent, but I want to make it even better, and as the voice of the people to the chief constable you have my word that is what I will do.
PACT meetings lead the way
Connecting the police to the people of Blackpool has been developed dramatically over the years.
We now have websites, Facebook, email and Twitter. But without a doubt the best and most effective method is still a face-to-face encounter with a police or community support officer.
The majority of crime is detected and prevented by people talking to each other and in particular the residents who live and work in the town are key to all police work. Trust and confidence is not won by social media, it helps us all to communicate, but you cannot beat old fashioned face to face meetings.
The Police and Communities Together (PACT) meetings are essential in this process. Introduced in 2005, with Blackpool being one of the pilot areas, they were introduced across the county. They have served as a template for the UK and every other police force in the country has now replicated something similar. Blackpool led the way for others to follow.