People today had a chance to quiz Northamptonshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Adam Simmonds, during a Chronicle & Echo web chat.
PCC Simmonds fielded a very wide range of questions touching on everything from police budgets and PSCO powers to his controversial support for closer working with the fire service and plans to leave Wootton Hall as well as other, simpler ones such as confirming he was not a freemason and what his favourite TV cop show is.
First up was “Harry” who asked how the PCC got on with his Conservative colleagues and whether he was popular with party faithful, which the PCC batted away by saying he was “good friends with a lot of people in different roles and I think that actually helps”.
Asked by “Stephen Kerr” if he felt he had a mandate to run the police when only 20 per cent of people voted in last November’s poll, he said: “The reality is that in a democracy decisions get made by those that show up...my job is to get on with the job. The mandate is given to me by the majority of those that voted.”
He was asked by “Jack” if taxpayers were getting value money from his £65,000-a-year assistant commissioners, which the PCC responded by saying: “The taxpayers want to see crime reduced and its my role to bring all the necessary resources together to do that...this might be inhouse staff it might mean not for profit outsourcing it might mean doing things in house but differently. The real test is when I deliver...100 days in its early days BUT the people I have on my team are the right people!”
He said the first tangible signs of plans being instigated would be in the coming months: “The first recruits to the reservist force will be in place next few months...the PCSO powers extensions will be announced later this month...Victims Commission work starts after April...already kept council tax at zero increase...police numbers now fixed...so the list is growing but also £1.2 million for crime prevention and more”.
“Simon Garner” asked the PCC how he felt he had been received by rank and file officers. Mr Simmonds said: “I have spent a lot of time on night shifts meeting police officers...explaining and understanding...I think the PCC role was always going to be difficult day one...but from meeting police officers I have genuinely had a lot of warm support and good wishes...my ambition is to see our force as one of the best in the country...you don’t get there without ensuring people are with you...”
“David in Milton” asked if he felt hurt by criticism he had received in some quarters, including those posting comments on the Chron’s website, to which he responded: “I think when people are abusive with no real ideas about the future or progress then it does hurt a little...BUT to be fair and honest I don’t really have time to read the comments because I for one have work to do!”
The PCC firmly denied Lib Dem claims he had cut the police budget, adding: “The police budget comes from the Government...I have not cut police numbers...not cut pcso numbers...i am increasing volunteers via special constabulary...increasing pcso powers...and for instance there will be £2.6 million new spending...so the Lib Dems (shock horror) are wrong.”
“David Bardsley” asked him: “You want to cut violence by 40 per cent, would you push ahead with that even if it started to have an impact on crime rates in other areas?” to which he answered: “I think this is the challenge to ensure that we consistently reduce crime across the board while focusing on a specific area...violent crime impacts so many other areas David so a reduction would benefit.”
On a lighter note he revealed his favourite cop show was Waking the Dead, his favourite West Wing character was “Toby and Charlie” and reports in the Chron’s Aufona column about his love of Americana, basketball and Batman were all true.
The commissioner also managed to answer a few questions from “Doctor Oxygen”, a regular comment poster on the Chron’s website, who submitted dozens over the course of the 75-minute webcast. At one point the Chron’s moderator attempted to find out who the mystery inquisitor was, but duly failed to get an answer.
To view the entire web chat click PCC Webchat.