STANDING UP FOR MERSEYSIDE
2020 was a year like no other for Merseyside and the whole of the UK.
But something that didn’t change was our region yet again being let down by a Tory Government, too focussed on supporting their friends and under investing in our communities across Merseyside.
Once again we were left to fend for ourselves, but the people of Merseyside stood up and supported each other through tough times, creating mutual support groups to help their neighbours during lockdowns, supporting local businesses and ensuring food banks never ran empty.
It’s this spirit of community that makes me proud to be the Labour candidate to represent Merseyside as your Police and Crime Commissioner.
But policing during a pandemic and social upheaval has been challenging. Lockdown protocols and the Black Lives Matter Movement have shown us just how important it is that our police are not just grounded and representative of communities all across Merseyside, but working in partnership with them.
That’s why we need a strong, local and effective Police and Crime Commissioner to make sure this happens and that we get the funding we are overdue from Central Government.
You can’t have policing on the cheap and the people of Merseyside deserve better. Despite promises of more police officers, there is still a long way to go to replace the numbers we have lost, which is why I will fight to get more police officers, Police Community Support Officers and staff back onto the streets of Merseyside.
VISIBLE AND ACCOUNTABLE POLICING
Residents across Merseyside tell me they don’t see any police officers anymore. Thanks to the cuts in police funding since 2010, there are fewer bobbies on our streets.
However, the number one priority for communities is to have a visible police presence; providing reassurance, gathering intelligence and disrupting criminal activity.
- to demand more Government funding to increase number of police officers and staff.
- to get police officers back on the streets with a dedicated officer or PCSO for every neighbourhood.
I want communities to have positive relationships with their local police, break down existing barriers and help residents tell the police where they should be focusing their efforts.
- to support communities to work with their local police officers through schemes like Neighbourhood Watch, and invest in community projects to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.
Too many communities are blighted by serious violence on Merseyside. Between June 2019 and June 2020 there were 20 homicides and 1,318 offences involving a knife. Tackling gun & knife crime and tackling gang violence must remain a priority for Merseyside Police.
- to support the work of the Merseyside Violence Reduction Unit to identify vulnerable young people being drawn into criminality and divert them into positive activity, addressing the underlying causes of their offending, as well as going after the criminals exploiting them.
- to secure sustainable funding for the Violence Reduction Unit to allow it to expand and provide support & diversionary activity to more young people across Merseyside.
Too many people are dying or being seriously injured on our streets. Tackling road safety needs enforcement, education and awareness raising for all road users, as well as proper road design that encourages safety on the roads.
- to support enforcement for dangerous driving and regional awareness campaigns to ensure that anyone who drives through our area understands that dangerous or careless driving will not be tolerated.
- to work closely with the Metro Mayor, and Combined Authority, to ensure that road safety remains a priority across the city region, and that any regeneration projects take into account the need to keep all road users safe, e.g. with the installation of cycle routes across Merseyside.
- to work with local communities and Councillors to identify speeding champions and tackle speeding hotspots to make our streets safer.
Too many communities in Merseyside feel that the police don’t represent them and that they won’t get support when they need it. The public need to trust the police and know that they are using their resources and powers responsibly to keep them safe.
If a police service is to have trust from all communities, it must be representative of those communities, demonstrate how it is actively working to tackle racism and put the victim first.
I want the public to be proud of their local police and be confident that they are continually working to serve the people of Merseyside.
- to champion and celebrate the great work of our police officers and staff to keep the people of Merseyside safe.
- to introduce a programme of scrutiny that ensures transparency in police decision making including recruiting independent community members to sit on a police scrutiny panel and ensure police are using resources responsibly.
- to hold regular public meetings with the Chief Constable to account for the performance of the police, scrutinise decisions being made and discuss key issues affecting police response.
- to visit communities across Merseyside to hear from residents about what they want from their police force.
- to publish an annual equalities audit to report back on work to improve diversity within the police as well as other activity supporting minority groups.
SUPPORTING VICTIMS AND COMMUNITIES
Victims and communities affected by crime are too often overlooked. The trauma of crime can last for years, and the way some victims are treated after reporting a crime can end up re-victimising them. Put simply, this isn’t good enough.
I want to ensure all victims get the support they need to recover from their experience so having a justice system that takes account of their needs is essential.
Our systems often fail to take into account the specific needs of victims and survivors of crime. Victims do not all act and respond in the same way. It’s vital we properly listen and allow them to explain what would support they need.
- to set up a Victims’ Panel giving an opportunity for victims and survivors to tell us what can be done better and hold me, the police and wider agencies to account.
- to work with other PCCs and the Victims’ Commissioner to highlight injustices against victims and support legislation reform to protect victims’ rights.
Ensuring victims of crime get the support they need to recover from the trauma of the crime committed against them is vital. So I am committed to securing sustainable funding for victims' services so no-one is left without support.
There is also a particular crisis of underfunding amongst domestic and sexual abuse services. We saw just how important these services are during the Coronavirus crisis, with some services seeing more than double the numbers of victims contacting them; but they have long been vital in providing support for victims.
- to fight for increased, sustainable funding to provide victims’ services.
- to review current funding streams to ensure money is being used effectively and that victims are actually getting the specialist and targeted intervention they need.
- to review commissioning contracts to provide long term sustainable contracts wherever possible.
- to expand access to restorative justice programmes to empower victims and survivors and support their recovery.
There is an epidemic of violence and abuse against women. Whether that be domestic abuse, sexual violence, forced marriage or sex trafficking.
Thousands of women report some form of violence or abuse to police every day and yet too many are being let down because they are not believed or being listened to, so it’s vital we do more to support them.
Some people believe that violence against women and girls is an isolated or personal issue. It isn’t. It’s an issue for all of us and we all benefit from eradicating it. It will take more than just the police to make this happen, but they must still play a leading role by working with communities, the voluntary sector and other agencies.
- to complete a violence against women and girls strategy focusing on actions such as healthy relationships education, addressing the drop in rape conviction rates, recording misogeny as a hate crime and training for front-line staff to better respond to disclosures of abuse.
- to establish a violence against women and girls taskforce, with multiple partner agencies from across Merseyside.
- to establish a review board, which includes victims and survivors, to publish a public report every year on progress made against this strategy.
Anti-Social Behaviour can affect anyone and it can destroy lives. I’ve seen first hand the impact repeated acts of ASB can have on communities and it must not be dismissed. With limited resources, it’s more important than ever that stakeholders work together to find ways to root out ASB and deter offenders.
- to work in partnership with local Councillors, housing associations and other key stakeholders to identify ASB hot spots and improve areas to deter ASB.
- to ensure residents can easily report ASB via 101, local police officers, crimestoppers or to their local Councils.
- to ensure vulnerable victims get a priority response to incidences of ASB.
- to support communities to develop local projects to work with known offenders and tackle ASB.
Every year, thousands of men, women and children are forced into slavery. This crime very often goes hidden behind closed doors and we don’t even realise it’s happening on our doorstep.
Young girls trafficked into prostitution or to work in nail bars, men forced to work on cannabis farms or in car washes – they get no pay, no way to contact their family and no way of getting help.
I will work with communities on Merseyside to highlight the prevalence
of modern slavery and engage all agencies to make it a priority.
- to work with other PCCs and the Anti -Slavery Commissioner to introduce legislation that will improve access to support for victims and target traffickers.
- to develop a training programme for private and public sector organisations to better monitor and improve their response to modern slavery.
- to ensure a joined up approach via the Merseyside Modern Slavery Network looking at how we identify victims of slavery quickly and build up the intelligence to prosecute those responsible.
All crime is awful for the individuals involved and can threaten feelings of safety and security, but none more so than hate crime; physical and verbal attacks targeted at you simply because of who you are and the life you lead. It is becoming all too common for racist, disablist and homophobic language to be used in schools, workplaces and across all aspects of society.
I will make it a priority to work with communities on Merseyside to tackle hate crime in all its forms.
- to ensure all hate crime is taken seriously, launching a region wide campaign to educate all residents about the impact of a hate crime and ensuring a zero tolerance approach on Merseyside.
- to engage with specific groups to learn from their experience and work with them to tackle hate crime in their communities.
FAIR AND EFFECTIVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
The criminal justice system is failing the very people it’s supposed to help. Criminal justice cuts, coupled with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, has meant victims are waiting years to unlock justice.
Victims are denied the support they need as they navigate a complicated justice process and defendants are left in limbo spending years waiting for trial.
If we want to actually reduce re-offending, we need to better understand offenders and their motivations, address the underlying cause and stop repeat offences.
While PCCs do not currently have oversight of the criminal justice agencies, I am committed to working with them to improve the criminal justice system on Merseyside so it works fairly and effectively.
- to work with the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board to improve local arrangements so that we prioritise victims and effectively reduce re-offending.
- to expand access to restorative justice programmes that will encourage offenders to think about the impact of their actions and encourage rehabilitation.
Female offenders are some of the most common offenders getting prison sentences for non-violent crimes. Too many women are spending time in prison for offences such as not paying their TV licence, which is a waste of public money and doesn’t address the reason for their behaviour.
- to publish a female offender strategy, which focuses on the public health approach to divert women away from crime and reduce the revolving door into prison.
We know that young people can be increasingly vulnerable to crime and that putting young people on the right path is vital to ensuring they live safe and productive lives.
- to work with local authorities and police to maximise resources to safeguard young people and deter them from criminal activity, whether that be through youth engagement, counselling or skills development.
- to ensure the return of school police officers who work closely with staff, parents and pupils to address areas of concern and identify vulnerable children and young people.
The Covid crisis has highlighted many injustices that exist within our society and that includes the huge backlog in court cases that currently exists after years of cuts and court closures.
There are thousands of trials in Merseyside still outstanding, meaning defendants, victims and witnesses all left in limbo waiting for justice to be done. Fewer lawyers and legal professionals means higher caseloads and things unfortunately falling through the net. It’s not fair on the staff, it’s not fair on the defendants and it’s certainly not fair on the victims who want to have their cases heard.
- to fight to get funding restored to courts, prisons and justice agencies to ensure sufficient resources are available to get through the backlog of cases.
- to fight to get legal aid reinstated to those who cannot afford legal representation to ensure no one is being denied access to justice.
- to work with Criminal Justice Partners and identify opportunities to increase access to justice with new technology.