Northamptonshire Police are failing to tackle violent crime, car crime and drugs and taxpayers are not getting value for money, according to the man who wants to be named the county’s first Police and Crime Commissioner.
Adam Simmonds, the Conservative candidate for next Thursday’s election, hit out following the publication of a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary which revealed that overall expenditure on policing in Northamptonshire is higher than many similar areas.
But despite the financial outlay, the county force is way down national league tables on key areas such as violent crime, prompting Mr Simmonds to say: “In football terms we are paying out big Manchester City money for League Two results.”
He added: “Northamptonshire has one of the highest ratios of constables and PCSOs to other ranks. There is an above average number of sergeants and superintendents. In other words, too many managers.
“Most of us would expect a police organisation would primarily be made up of police constables who did a job of being a police constable, yet in reality front-line police constables are in the minority.
“Reducing the numbers and costs of middle and senior ranks can free up a substantial amount of money to put into front line policing and give us the visible policing we all want to see.
“And HMIC say that Northamptonshire’s cost per head of officer and of staff is showing as the highest in country. This would mean we have the most expensive employees in policing nationally by some margin.
“The inspectors say that overall expenditure on policing in Northamptonshire is the highest of forces it can be sensibly compared with. What we all pay for policing through our council tax precept is amongst the highest in country
“And yet performance in many areas of Northamptonshire Police is poor compared with others. Northamptonshire is way down the national league table dealing with violent crime, car crime and drugs for example.
“Police figures say that overall crime volumes have fallen and officer numbers much less so. Next year we will still have more police officers than in 2004. So much officer time is in investigating crime, savings or redistribution of costs must be possible.
“If elected I want to see our front line police better equipped and supported, able to do the job they do best in local communities and enhanced through cost cutting from less red tape and less management breathing down their necks.”
Mr Simmonds’ comments have been met with concern by officers.
Neil Goosey of the Northamptonshire branch of the Police Federation, the organisation representing rank-and-file officers, said: “The Federation condemns this comment which belittles the hard working officers and the bravery of their work.”
Paul Varnsverry, the Lib Dem candidate in the elections, said: “It is simply an appalling statement that holds our brave police officers and PCSOs in contempt.”
UKIP candidate Jim MacArthur took to social networking site Twitter to condemn his rival, quoting prose from Lewis Carroll and likening him to a ‘classroom bully’.
He said: “Adam talks tough at people who can’t answer back. He must be really worried, striking out in all directions like a classroom bully.
“To quote Lewis Carroll: ‘When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark but, when the tide rises and sharks are around, his voice has a timid and tremulous sound.”