Hi everyone!

Just wanted to give you a bit of an up date so you can see how the campaign is developing...

First bit of good news is that I'll have leaflets available by the end of next week! So if you would like to deliver a few and promote the campaign it would be greatly appreciated. I'm not advocating ‘door knocking,’ but the personal touch of handing them out to people or leafleting places where the residents of the West Midlands are likely to hang out would be great.  I'm keen to meet and speak to as many people as possible so please continue to invite me to your groups and meetings so we can debate how to make your area safer.

PRESS ARTICLES

Well the campaign has started to accelerate and become a bit more real, with interviews in the local papers including the Coventry Telegraph, Birmingham Post and Sunday Mercury. Some have errors in their description of me to spice up the stories...for example ‘aged 51 years’ when clearly I only look 37 years old!

SPECIAL BRANCH

...There have also been a couple of special mentions of my role as Head of Special Branch. Counter terrorism is just another aspect of public protection, although one that is very specialised, requiring a high level of integrity and vetting. The role certainly adds another string to my 'community safety bow’ and shows that I have successfully undertaken a very wide range of challenging and demanding jobs to protect the residents of the West Midlands. But all I’d say is, don’t get side-tracked, there’s more to me than this headline!

STRANGE BUT TRUE

An interview with the Information Daily saw me challenging George Galloway’s comments about rape. I still can't quite get my head around some people's views - bad manners cannot be mistaken for rape and rape cannot be described as bad manners. Other clips from the interview which also covered my pledges as PCC will be available in due course.

CHILD EXPLOITATION

Peter Wilson from BBC Midlands today interviewed Mike Rumble and I about Barnardo’s campaign related to child exploitation. I led a significant amount of work regarding this issue before retiring from the police so I have a particular interest in how it is progressing. I was interested to hear that as from Tuesday 28th August (the day of the news broadcast!) that West Midlands Police introduced specialised teams for this area of policing. I wonder where the staff came from and what skill base they have to contribute to this area of child abuse. Anyone know? I am awaiting an official response from WMP.

GUN CRIME

I went to a meeting in Handsworth to debate the value of ‘gunshot sensors’ which are located in the nearby areas to detect the sound of gun fire. I viewed the key issue as;

·  Were the sensors cost effective enough in detecting the gunfire and providing an alert to the police?
·  Was the true value the potential to save a life by alerting the police so they could respond quickly to the incident?
·   The value of the product as a deterrent in terms of community reassurance and potential to save lives?

A rudimentary vote took place with the vast majority of the community voting to retain the sensors. However as the statistics relating to its effectiveness become clearer and the financial commitment greater, I suspect the debate will reignite.

Mr Raj Rattu introduced the debate and spoke about being ‘active citizens’ which mirrors my belief that the residents of the West Midlands must engage in a new and active partnership with the PCC and police to improve the safe and security of everyone. This is a shared responsibility for all of us.

What was very obvious - and heartening to see - was the passion in the attendees to improve safety in their area. There was a real desire to provide alternative activities for young people and divert them away from criminal activity and the ‘gang culture’ which is very often associated with gun crime. I completely support this approach because dealing with crime is not just about responding to the symptoms, but also dealing with the causes.

WORRIED PEOPLE

What I am surprised at is the number of doors that have closed doors to me since I declared as a PCC candidate. There is a real nervousness that people and organisations will be disadvantaged if they are seen to be supporting/talking to one candidate over another.

Everyone please take a chill pill!

I won’t compromise anyone but I do need to know how you feel about crime and safety in your areas. Only then can I help improve policing in the West Midlands. So please let me know your views, invite me to your meetings and talk to me about your concerns. Don’t be shy! And please encourage others to stand up and tell me their views too.

I have meetings arranged with Victim Support, Aged groups, Knit and Natter, and local businesses to name a few, however I still have time for you. So please invite me along and together we will improve policing for you.

VOTING

I also visited the Birmingham Election Office and met two extremely well informed and helpful members of staff who provided some great advice about the election process. But so many still don't know about the election. For a view of the election process see www.electoral-reform.org.uk/police-and-crime-commissioners. The Electoral Reform organisation is  concerned that the turnout will be very low. Come on West Midlands, don't be apathetic about your safety and security! Make sure you choose your PCC and don’t let the election process pass you by.

HUSTINGS 

If you want to see all the candidates including me in action - here's your opportunity! Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group (BCCG) is hosting a hustings at their headquarters in Birmingham on Tuesday, September 25. Visit www.birmingham-chamber.com to register.

Thanks again for your wonderful messages of support and your questions on everything from my pledges to specific issues which affect you and your communities. Do keep 'em coming and do please contact me to if you'd like me to come to you, to listen to your views and answer your questions. I'll be only too happy to assist!

TTFN,

Cath









                  



 
Hi all,

During the week I met with representatives of Wolverhampton’s Public Health department which is part of the Primary Care Trust. They were two inspirational ladies who were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about tackling all aspects of alcohol misuse. They talked me through the Alcohol Strategy highlighting Priorities and Actions which showed an impressive range of activities undertaken to analyse local needs and shape the delivery of local services.

They've explored the impact that alcohol misuse has on families, confirming that;

·  Children are drinking at much younger ages. We see that now with the amount of anti social behaviour that is associated to alcohol.

·  There are particular hazards for children living with dependent drinkers and a national figure shows alcohol misuse is a factor in 50% of child protection cases. I have seen this for myself with my experience of safeguarding children.

·  Alcohol abuse is a key factor in domestic violence situations and night time economy leading to injury and sometimes death. Having investigated these types of cases I have seen firsthand the devastation caused to families.

The ladies also examined the impact of alcohol misuse on the community describing the prevalence of violent assaults, drink driving cases and fire incidents. Also the issues that impact on the local economy such as absenteeism, unemployment and premature death.

This work led to the development of a strong foundation of partnership working including commissioning a number of new services, improved data exchange, and proactive police and City Council Licensing activities, all of which serve to make Wolverhampton a safer place.

The briefest look at media reports shows that:                                          

·  Drink driving is on the increase - ITV.com

·  Young people are binge drinking to excess - Metro

·  Steps are being taken to reduce associated yob violence - Wolverhampton Express & Star

My time with these ladies was time extremely well spent because I have an even clearer picture of how alcohol misuse can impact on all aspect of society and how it can be visible in your communities.

It's not hard to see that alcohol abuse permeates through many different facets of family and social life. The approach to this issue cannot be a short term or quick hits for headline news but a consolidation of partners across the West Midlands all working towards one aim which is protecting the public from harm.  

One of my pledges is to ‘tackle violent crime, abuse and hate crimes head on, to help make your local communities safer’. I go on to say, ‘Violent crime can range from gang violence to incidents of assault with or without weapons through to domestic assault. Almost half the incidents of violent crime are associated with alcohol which can be tackled by robust partnership work with many organisations including the Wellbeing Boards, Primary Care Trust’s, Education and licensed premises as well as off licences’. 

All of this is still valid but in line with my pledge of ‘listening and using your experience and knowledge’ I can see that so much more is required. I want to give you a lasting legacy rather than short term goals. If you support this view then vote for me as your first PCC.

I know that a lot of families are touched by this issue so let’s have your comments, Over this weekend 18/19th August send comments into my website, twitter or facebook and let me know how you want this problem addressed.   

TTFN Cath

 
Hi all!

You’ll be glad to hear that week three was another busy but productive one, with all my time spent talking to individuals and interest groups across the West Midlands. I learnt more about their views, concerns and fears, and more about the changes they’d like to see in their local area. I’ve included some of the highlights below, but as ever, I’m interested in everyone’s views so if you’ve got something you’d like to say, please contact me via my site cathhannon4pcc.com or at cath@cathhannon4pcc.com.

One of the first people I spoke to is a professional in the arena of alcohol licensing, who talked me through the complexities of alcohol legislation, licensing, and alcohol abuse and violence. Having been in the police I have some understanding of the key issues in this area but it’s a huge area of concern for the West Midlands, a real drain on police resources and something which we must address. In my view there’s a responsibility on individuals who repeatedly cause problems through alcohol-related violence and aggression. But how do we get there? This is a big challenge but one of the areas I’m determined to tackle. Watch this space...


I also spoke to a gentleman who represents large and small retailers, as well as convenience stores, resulting in a refreshingly spirited debate about how the police, retailers and the public can work together to deter criminality in high streets and town centres. It’s clear that innovation and desire to work together could really energise shopping areas and bring a much need injection of support and money to business communities. I hope to collect a few more views along the way on this so if you own a business I’d be really interested in your thoughts here too. What are the issues that affect your local area? Let’s get your voice heard.


During the week I made a visit to another group, the Birmingham Adult Dyslexic Group (BADG), which meets regularly at the Nautical Club in Birmingham. They’d previously mentioned their concern about their lack of access to information about the election and were frustrated about being disenfranchised from such an important decision.


My discussion with them was fairly short as two police officers also attended the meeting and BADG attendees were keen to have a variety of policing issues and scenarios addressed. The frustration of the BADG members was obvious as they described their mainly negative contact with the police and how their disabilities impact on their behaviour, which they believe is often misinterpreted by police. The police who attended gave a very good overview of how such situations are usually approached by the police, which helped. But the fact is that police budgets have been cut and training in areas such as mental health has also been cut, and this in a time when the demand for policing overall is just as strong.

For me, this has got to be about identifying our priorities, and long-term solutions. As part of my campaign I’ll be adjusting my website to provide an alternative medium to just script so the information is more readily available to people who struggle with reading and writing. But what of the so-called 'gap' between policing resources and the needs of various community groups overall? In terms of the policing needs of BADG it was clear to me that technology could be used to make contact between the police and key community groups much easier. There was support within the room for an identification card to advise police officers of their disability and behavioural traits but what do you think? Would you like to see any other alternative methods to communication information to ‘hard to reach’ groups? 
  
Among other meetings and conversations there was also a bit of unexpected musical excitement, drumming with Tim Landler at Birmingham Drum School. Tim is an excellent teacher and I’m pleased to announce that for the first time in my life I managed to beat in time. Actually my performance was more akin to a very slow Phil Collins number. Anyway! Prior to our conversation, Tim hadn’t even heard of the PCC position. Or the fact that it’s an elected position which will completely change the face of policing in the West Midlands and beyond. He didn’t know that there is an election taking place in November.

And guess what? He’s in the majority. This has got to change. And that’s where we come in.

Thank you for helping me spread the word – let’s keep at it!


TTFN Cath

 
Hi everyone,

Welcome to my first blog since the campaign began. And what a week it's been!

I've been in meetings with businesses, minority groups and ladies' groups across the West Midlands. The social media activity has kicked off in earnest, and we're now moving on to the next stages of the campaign. I've also been collating the comments and suggestions on crime and policing which I'll be sharing these more widely soon. I have to say - the feedback has been fantastic so far, with lots of you coming forward with ideas and views from both a policing and community perspective so thank you. Keep 'em coming!

Last night I took part in a 'live' debate about PCCs on Radio Coventry Plus in my first official broadcast of the election. Talk about nervous (!) But it was great to be able to talk about what my approach to the role will be and to hear what fellow candidates had to say.

I'm itching for a series of proper debates and I think there needs to be far more work across the media to raise the profile of the PCC election. Not only so that people know what each candidate represents in terms of approach, but also how each of us would perform the role of PCC if elected. Last night's debate showed that there is common ground between us. But it also highlighted clear differences in priorities once in post, and I think that's what people will want to see more of...

Well, I'm officially on ‘the campaign trail’ now until November, and I'll be providing regular updates, getting out and about and asking for your views. I'll let you know when I'm in your area, and would love to see you so do come along and join the debate. And if you'd like to get in touch with me directly then my door's always open.

Thank you to all of you for the lovely messages of support - much appreciated!

TTFN,

Cath

Cath's Corner - your blog questions answered

For those of you following my blog, you'll know that Mary has asked a question about how I'll support victims in Birmingham as there are so many. Good question!

As PCC, my priorities here would be to talk to people to get their views and input, backing up insight with substantive research, with the aim being to deliver a more comprehensive programme of support of victims and witnesses as a result.  I'd start by referring to in-depth research about victims in the West Midlands. I'd also inform policy through listening to Victim Support and other support organisations who hold a huge wealth of knowledge on this subject, and with feedback from the public, too. For me, the views and real-life experiences of local people are crucial if we're to make a lasting, positive impact on crime and safety. By taking all of these things into consideration and approaching victim support in this way, my aim would be to introduce a structure which is scalable, but also flexible enough to take into account the needs of specific local areas of the West Midlands.

Police and Crime Commissioner, PCC, putting people first, West Midlands, Cath Hannon, Cath, Hannon, female, woman