Sunday, 1 May 2016

Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Election

Some people would say that electing Police and Crime Commissioners, who need to stump up a deposit of £5,000 in order to stand at all, is needlessly politicising the police service. The post is paid between £70 -100,000 p.a. and we may well ask what these commissioners do to justify the cost.

If they siphon some of that generous salary back into the party that got them elected, then this relatively new system could be a very convenient way of getting more funds into the coffers of the older political parties.

 There are four candidates for the post of Police and Crime Commissioner in Thames Valley.
I sent the same question to all four of them i.e, what are they going to do to address the appalling situation with organised sex-grooming gangs targetting young, underage girls often from the most vulnerable social backgrounds? And how would they reassure us there would be no more cover-ups?

Only two of the candidates replied at all. Laetisia Carter (Labour) sent no response. Nor, so far, has Lea Trainer, the UKIP candidate.
John Howson, the Liberal Democrat candidate, sent a very prompt reply. viz.

Dear Julia,

There are 2 issues here for the PCC and Thames Valley police as a force. These are, dealing with historical sex abuse cases and preventing it happening now, both within families and with strangers. Oxfordshire County Council and TVP have established the Kingfisher Unit to handle current complaints and to ensure that there is training of police, social workers, teachers and NHS staff to detect, refer and in the case of the police take action to investigate cases where there may be sexual exploitation. This is more than many local authorities have achieved, but I am sure there is more that can be done. i think this is an issue all 4 candidates for PCC are concerned about. By way of history, I cannot recall it ever arising during the 2012 PCC election campaign as an issue.

As there is a current trial being held, it is more challenging to comment on historical sex abuse at this time, but lessons have been learnt: most notably that children are children however they present themselves and are not adults and thus should have greater protection under the law.

Oxfordshire's placing of school nurses in all secondary schools and close monitoring of missing persons episodes including during the school day with return interviews afterwards being a routine feature both also help to detect and deter further crimes and provide possible avenues for reporting by young people. But, we do need to be continually vigilant and unlike perhaps sometimes in the past young people must be believed.

I would want to see the same standards employed in Oxfordshire used across the Thames Valley.

John Howson
Liberal Democrat Candidate for
Thames Valley
Police & Crime Commissioner

Twitter; @John4PCC
Facebook: jh4pcc

Printed by TalkTalk Ltd and published and promoted by Neil Fawcett on behalf of John Howson the Liberal Democrat Candidate both of 27 Park End Street Oxford

More tardily I got this reply from Anthony Stansfeld, who is the current PCC for Thames Valley and the Conservative candidate

Dear Julia,

The individuals are alleged to have committed these crimes well before I became PCC. We are dealing with cases that goes back many years, and I am delighted that during my time as PCC past cases are now being brought to court.

The setting up of Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH) during my time as PCC has addressed this problem that goes back many years. Also a considerable number of extra officers have been moved to counter this problem since I became PCC. Bringing people to court for these cases should be a cause for satisfaction, not criticism. It is giving the victims of these crimes the justice they deserve.

With best wishes,


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