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.
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!
...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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!