Text of the speech I made at a public hustings at organised by ACRA on the 27th April 2016.
Good evening, my name is Lester Taylor and I am the UK Independence Party candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, Dorset.
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you tonight.
First a bit about me. I served for 25 years in the Royal Navy so I understand the ethos of uniform and public service. I have also been a manager in the NHS as well as a financial adviser. As a result I have worked with a diverse range of people in different working environments. I am also not an ex policeman so I believe I can bring a fresh perspective the the job.
For transparency I’d just like to say that my campaign has been funded by donations and the largest one was actually from me, and the deposit was provided by UKIP SW. And in light of recent concerns over Freemasonry and the police I can declare that I am not a Freemason and I have no large undeclared offshore funds or anything like that.
I considered standing for election as PCC in 2012 as my friends and colleagues encouraged me to do so, but the timing was not right. Ladies and Gentlemen, the timing is now perfect.
So that’s me, let’s now talk about you. There are 45,000 people in Christchurch and an analysis of the crime in your area for a typical month shows:
Approximately 51 percent of crime in your area is anti social behaviour and violence related, and a further quarter of all recorded crime is theft related and 7 percent of crime is down to burglary.
This is just a snapshot of course and I could go on about these figures all night but this is about you and your safety.
You want to know what I can do for Christchurch, my answer is that I want to make everyone in Dorset equally safe. I could make all sorts of pledges that the next round of government cuts would make redundant and unachievable. The government feeds you its statistics and wants you to feel safe, whether you are actually safe or not.
It is also very good at using the pillars of our society such as the police as targets for cost savings, Sir Andrew Dilnot, the chair of the UK Statistics Authority said that George Osborne’s claim in his Autumn statement of providing real terms protection for the police was wrong, it would actually result in a sum equivalent to 3,200 officers’ salaries being lost in 2016/2017. That’s £160 million.
There’s only so many efficiencies you can make before the machine breaks, and this is a machine you do not want to break.
Just imagine that when you walk out the door of an evening you regularly see a police officer, someone you know that has lived or worked in your area for a long time and that you are on speaking terms with. Would more bobbies on the beat make you safer than you are now?
When I say more officers on the beat I mean I believe in more Warranted officers, properly trained, properly experienced having taken an oath of the office to be fair and impartial no matter what section of the community you align with. Let’s have a quick show of hands, who believs they would be safer with more police officers out and about?
Now the establishment would have you believe that putting more bobbies on the beat has nothing to do with crime reduction or safety. They will tell you that we just need to cut funds, amalgamate with other forces many miles away and use new technology to gather intelligence.
But when the Prime minster is out and about how many police officers are there ready to step in? When there’s a Conservative or Labour Party conference there’s always plenty of police officers about – but they have to be drawn from other parts of the county giving criminals a freedom they should never have.
And it’s just the same when heads of state such as the US president visits us.
So police on the ground do work for the rich and powerful, but it seems not for you.
Bobbies on the beat costs money. That’s the bit they don’t want to talk to you about. I’ve spoken to police officers past and present as well as volunteers and many members of the public and they all tell me that they want to see more warranted police officers out and about because it works.
But the current establishment will tell you that it only works for the rich the famous and the powerful. You deserve better! On top of that we now hear that the government is actually considering volunteers carrying weapons and tackling cyber-crime and other specialist duties – it was discussed in Parliament yesterday, but I bet that the rich and powerful will never be protected by volunteers!
With the greatest of respect, there is no Royal Neighbourhood Watch is there? Volunteers should be there as a welcome addition to, not instead of, the police force.
And it doesn’t stop there, more police officers engaging with the public engenders more trust of the police and the increased likelihood of reporting all those minor crimes that niggle us but go unreported day in and day out.
Then there’s the matter of police stress, yes they are human too and have families.
The Dorset Echo recently reported that the number of Dorset Police officers that have taken long-term sick leave due to psychological issues has risen by nearly 60 per cent in five years.
The constant pressure of do more with less must surely be a factor in this.
Tony Tester, chairman of the Dorset Police Federation, said: “There is a correlation between the fact that we have had less officers over the last last four to five years in the force. The demand and pressures on the front-line officers today has increased and that may be one of the triggers.”
The response has been to put money into psychological resilience training, occupational health, employee assistance, welfare and counselling. All good and laudable things, but I believe that the best stress reducer would be more officers to share the workload.
The other candidates may say they have, or say they will, do the best they can with the resources they have. Well that’s not really good enough an answer is it? Anyone will do the best they can. That’s what makes us british, that’s the British way.
But I can not stand by and watch the further managed decline of our services with cut after cut after cut. My election promise to you is that i will fight tooth and nail to reverse this trend, which has seen a 22% reduction in government funding for the police since 2010. And I don’t care what anyone says, you cannot have this level of cuts and provide a better service. If you could, ministers would cut the number of special advisers they employ, wouldn’t they – but they haven’t have they?
Leaving the EU will provide additional funds. 55 million pounds a day is going to the EU coffers and we are seeing very little in return of that. i know its easy for me to promise you money and an increase in the number of bobbies on the beat, but i genuinely believe, that even if only a fraction of the savings we get after exiting the EU comes into the police service, we could effectively double yes double the number of officers. Now that is something no other party can possibly give you.
The other party candidates will try to play the question of the European Union down, because they know that staying in means more uncontrolled immigration from the EU, more cuts due to shovelling money abroad and not into the services that keep you safe and secure. A vote for me is a vote for true independence is a vote for the UK Independence Party is a vote for controlled immigration and is a vote for your safety.
You can vote to stay in the EU or come out and that is your choice and I have taken up arms just like some of you have, in defence of this country and defended your right to that choice. But let’s be absolutely clear if you vote to stay in no-one in this room – no-one – will be able to do anything whatsoever about the continued mass uncontrolled immigration causing the official population growth of the UK every year of nearly nine times that of the population of Christchurch. Think about that, nine times that of Christchurch! And don’t let anyone try and fool you into thinking that more people in the country won’t put increased pressure on the police.
Ladies and Gentleman, the bottom line is the managed decline of the police must stop. I will work with like minded PCCs across the country and fight hard to stop and then reverse this disgraceful and dangerous disrespect for your safety.
As UKIP does not have a party whip system, I have the freedom to use my initiative to keep the people of Dorset safe, but I have the power of the party that forced the government to hold the EU In/Out referendum behind me when I need it.
The overarching role any PCC is to cut crime and to deliver an effective and efficient police service in Dorset. This will be achieved by first holding the Force to account on behalf of local people and by taking the funding battle to Westminster.