In our new weekly feature your Interview, we give you, our readers, the chance to ask key figures across Sussex the questions you want answered. This week Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner KATY BOURNE answers your questions.
Question: The turnout at the elections was so low, how can you feel that you really represent the people of Sussex?
Katy Bourne (KB): I have pledged to work hard for all the residents of Sussex regardless of whether they voted or not.
I was elected to be the voice for local people in the fight against crime and I intend to meet and listen to as many individuals, families, businesses and communities as possible during my time as commissioner, in order to represent them and their needs when it comes to policing and crime.
Question: Doesn’t the turnout show that people didn’t want this post in the first place? Why is this going to be any better than the system we had before?
(KB): Few people knew about the system that existed before and, although some people may have stayed away from the polls, we have to remember that nearly 200,000 people didn’t.
That tells us that there are a huge amount of people out there who do care about policing and crime in their local area.
Since taking office I have also been inundated with correspondence from the public, from those who did and those who didn’t vote, about a whole variety of issues, and this tells me people do care and do want a say.
Question: As a Conservative, aren’t you just going to do what your party policy is? What will happen if you get a Labour Home Secretary and you are at odds with the government?
KB: I will always make sure that the people of Sussex come first in whatever I do and whatever decisions I make - this would be the case no matter who was in government.
I stood in the election as a Conservative because I share many of the values of the Conservative Party – with approx 1.2 million voters in Sussex, it was a way for those people that I had not managed to reach during the campaign to understand what I stood for when they went into the polling booth.
I have also said that it is now time to park the politics of the election and get on with the job in hand and that is exactly what I am doing.
Question: After all the funding cuts and more to come, how are you going to make sure you can cut crime? And will you guarantee no more police officer posts will go?
KB: I think it is important to note that making savings is not always about making cuts.
Sussex Police is in a better position financially than some other forces and is well prepared for the challenges ahead.
Efficient budgeting, less bureaucracy and effective procurement will help to protect numbers just as preventative work in conjunction with other organisations, will help to reduce crime.
I am also keen to see roll-outs of pilots that have proven successful in making efficiencies so far, and I am supportive of the ongoing estates review to see where better use of buildings and sharing with partners can be developed further to both make savings and improve public accessibility to their local neighbourhood policing teams.
Question: Everyone knows the police wastes lots of money, so what are you going to do to make them more efficient and bring them in to the 21st Century?
KB: A lot of work has been done to ensure that inefficiencies and waste are driven out of Sussex Police.
There are better ways that Sussex Police can work to make sure their officers spend as much time in the community as possible.
For example, the piloting of hand-held computer tablets has allowed officers to remain out ‘on the beat’ using the latest technology to log incidents without having to return to the station. This is something I am keen to see rolled out across the force.
Question: Hillsborough and the phone-hacking scandal are examples of police-vested interests corrupting their decisions. How can you ensure strong oversight?
KB: The circumstances around Hillsborough and the phone-hacking scandal are deeply regrettable and tragic for the victims involved, and it is right that these have been brought to light and that those responsible are held to account.
I am determined that Sussex police will continue to operate effectively and efficiently and that the values I have embraced during my professional career – hard work, integrity and fairness – underpin everything we do together.
It is also important to note that the Chief Constable has operational independence over the force but that I will expect to be briefed on major incidents and operations and will hold the Chief Constable to account for the actions of his officers and staff at all times. In the interests of transparency, my decisions and work will be published online at www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk
Question: Can you really keep yourself independent of chief officers while you have to rely on the information being brought to you by those officers for your decisions?
KB: We may use the same data and information brought to us by the force, but I am able to maintain an independent oversight on policing in Sussex by having my own expert analysis and oversight of that data, and also by speaking to the public about their experiences.
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