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Police and crime plan is ‘hopeless’
10:24am Tuesday 5th March 2013 in News
COUNCILLORS have criticised Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson’s vision for the county, with one calling it ‘almost hopeless’.
Mr Macpherson gave a presentation on his draft Police and Crime Plan for Wiltshire at a meeting of the Wiltshire Police and Crime Panel on Friday in Devizes.
The plan, which is out for public consultation until March 10, covers the next four years.
But critics say there are no real priorities stated in the document.
Mr Macpherson has set six priorities: reducing crime and antisocial behaviour, protecting vulnerable people, putting victims first, reducing offending, improving the police’s customer service and response to calls for assistance.
Specific plans include reducing crime and antisocial behaviour by 10 per cent, setting up a £1m innovation fund for organisations and groups to reduce crime, and increasing the number of Special Constables to 300 (from 180) working at least 16 hours a month.
Mr Macpherson, who was elected as Commissioner in November, also wants more people to volunteer in schemes such as Neighbourhood Watch.
But members of the panel were critical of the Commissioner’s plan, claiming it placed an over reliance on volunteer involvement.
Members also said it did not define antisocial behaviour and, therefore, any measure of how it had improved or not would be meaningless.
Wiltshire councillor Richard Britton, chairman of the panel, said there was nothing in the plan that talked about tackling specific crimes.
Mr Macpherson, whose salary is £70,000, said operational policing was the responsibility of Chief Constable Patrick Geenty.
Wiltshire councillor Chris Caswill said: “I like a lot about your priorities – it’s very laudable bringing victim support to the fore and focusing on cutting re-offending.
“However, this is a Police and Crime Plan which says almost nothing about policing and nothing about crime. Where are your priorities in relation to crime, for example deaths and injuries on the roads, rural crime, violent crime? You are completely silent on that in the plan. I regard this [plan] as almost hopeless.”
The panel was concerned about the level of reserves the Office of the Commis-sioner will have – about £12m at the end of this month.
The £1m innovation fund is proposed to come out of the reserves, but some councillors thought more could be taken out of the reserves to pay for other priorities.
Mr Macpherson said: “I attended the Police and Crime Panel meeting, where I gave a presentation as part of my wider consultation on the draft plan. I was also questioned by the panel.
“We now await the panel’s formal response following the meeting and will pay due regard to any recommendations they make.
“The draft plan sets out my priorities and aims during my term in office. For example, at least 95 per cent officer visibility or time out of the station, a 10 per cent reduction in the absolute number of crimes and antisocial behaviour, to reduce the harm caused by organised crime groups and dangerous drugs networks by 25 per cent and making at least 95 per cent of the population feel safe during the day and 85 per cent during the night.
“The Chief Constable is reporting back to me imminently on his detailed delivery of the draft plan provisions. The consultation on the draft has been extensive and continues until Sunday.
“People can read it at www.wiltshire-pcc.gov.uk.”