All of Suffolk’s Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have pledged, if elected, to ensure that Suffolk Constabulary continues to record stop-and-accounts and to push for more intelligence-led stop and search.
Last night (Thursday 1st November 2012), Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) hosted hustings for the Suffolk’s PCC elections at the University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich. All four Suffolk candidates were in attendance:
- Jane Basham – Labour
- David Cocks – Independent
- Tim Passmore – Conservative
- Bill Mountford – UKIP
The event had a good turnout with people from all over the Suffolk region. It kicked off with a two minute statement from each candidate on why they should be elected. The rest of the evening saw members of the public putting candidates in the hot seat on issues that mattered most to them. The role of the voluntary sector in supporting PCC or reoffenders became a strong theme of the evening; questions were also raised about the Norfolk- Suffolk police partnerships and how PCC candidates will ensure that people in Suffolk retain independence over their own police and crime budget. The second major theme of the evening was set by the younger members of the audience and centred on the use of stop-and-search powers. This was accompanied by pledges to maintain recording of stop-and-account, where people are stopped and questioned by the police but no search is made.
Romell Malik, chair of the Ipswich stop-and-search reference group began by questioning candidates on how they would ensure that the disproportionate use of stop-and-search powers faced by young Black people in Suffolk would be addressed. Whilst each candidate differed in the focus of their response, they showed consensus on the need for an intelligence driven approach to the use of those powers, the need for good monitoring mechanisms and to ensure that innocent people are treated fairly.
In a response to a question by StopWatch on the issue of stop-and-accounts, all of the candidates joined Jane Basham’s pledge to continue recording those encounters. Jane Basham was the first PCC candidate to put stop-and-search on the agenda at the start of her campaign to become Suffolk’s first PCC by making concrete pledges to continue monitoring those powers and to look at ways of increasing effectiveness, addressing disproportionality and ensuring transparency. West Midlands’ PCC candidates made similar pledges a couple of weeks ago at their hustings in Birmingham.
StopWatch, with its local partners, have been organising and attending a number of hustings around the country to raise awareness of the use of stop-and-search powers within the relevant police force area and to get firm pledges for reforms. This is in addition to meeting with candidates in the months leading up to the public vote on Thursday 15 November.
PCCs are part of the coalition government’s radical reform of how policing is conducted across the 41 police force areas in England and Wales outside of London. Their responsibilities include setting the priorities of their police force area, deciding how much money is allocated to each of the various policing activities (eg anti-social behaviour, counterterrorism, neighbourhood watch, rehabilitation, etc) and they also hold the power to hire and fire chief constables. They will replace the role of the former Independent Police Authorities and will take up post a week after the vote on Thursday 22nd November.
More information on StopWatch’s campaigns during the PCC elections can be found here.