Derbyshire’s deputy crime chief says he will continue to fight Government pressure to privatise the county’s police if he is elected to the top job in May.
Hardyal Dhindsa (pictured), Labour’s candidate for Derbyshire in the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections has pledged to block moves to turn over police control room services to private security contractors - a move that other forces in the East Midlands have started to adopt.
The former senior probation officer, who has worked as deputy to the county’s outgoing PCC Alan Charles, said the move would open the door to wider privatisation of the police service.
It would also take control away from Derbyshire Chief Constable Mick Creedon to be able to adapt and respond to demand in the future, he said.
“This will not happen on my watch - not if I’m elected,” he said.
“It is something that both Alan Charles any myself have resisted for the past three years and it is something that I will continue to prevent - we’ve seen privatisation in the Probation Service and it’s been disastrous.
“Staff are demoralised and one company has already stepped away just nine-months in because there is no profit to be made.
“With core policing services it needs to be kept in-house, because then the savings that we make can be reinvested back into front-line policing, and won’t become profit for shareholders.”
He also said that plans to extend the scope of the Special Constabulary, as outlined by Conservative hopeful Richard Bright was unrealistic.
“Volunteers are a crucial part of our policing family and Special Constables already play a vital role in terms of policing football matches and providing intelligence, for example, or working with and supporting our traffic officers,” Mr Dhindsa said.
“But the reality is that many specialist roles require days and weeks of ongoing commitment and it is not realistic to expect this of someone who volunteers a few hours of their time each week.
“Extending the Special Constabulary is something that is being pitched by Conservative candidates across the country because it is a way they have identified of battling the severe cuts that we have suffered from central Government,” he said.
“All of our volunteers already play a vital role within the constabulary, but this is just a throwback to David Cameron’s Big Society of about eight years ago.
“We have seen our budgets cut by more than £30 million, and if it wasn’t for the Paris attacks we would have been seeing further cuts this year.”
Mr Dhindsa said Derbyshire police will now be extending officer recruitment rounds, while he also hopes to increase the constabulary’s voluntary police cadet programme for young people.
He also hopes to create 20 new police civilian volunteer posts under the existing Citizens in Policing programme.
“It is vital that our police officers of tomorrow understand and represent the communities that they serve,” he said.
“The point is that whilst volunteers are great, they are no substitute for professional paid Pplice officers and staff.
“I will be writing to David Cameron and Theresa May to give us a fair funding deal and correct the historic under-funding of Derbyshire police - on average of £2 million per year over the last 10 or more years under successive governments. I will be demanding an urgent recommencement of last year’s ‘botched’ funding formula review which indicated a minimum of £7 million pa more for Derbyshire - this is the equivalent of 223 more police officers.”
But he added that the police force does need to adapt to an ever-changing society, and that police station closures have not decreased police numbers.
Mobile technology is also in the process of being introduced, and a special focus has also been adopted to combat more recent developments such as child sexual exploitation, cyber-crime, human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Additionally, he has pledged to work to reduce high-value thefts from farms, which he says are primarily caused by organised criminal gangs.
“One way to look at this,” he said, “is to think of a mum and day sitting down at home. They look out of the window and they see a police officer on patrol, and this makes them feel safe. Meanwhile, upstairs in her bedroom, their teenage daughter could be sat on her phone being groomed for child sexual exploitation.
“The world had changed and policing has changed with it - and a visible police presence is no longer simply about boots on the ground.”
Mr Dhindsa’s policing priorities are to:
- Work to ensure that Derbyshire is a safe and inclusive County
- Continue to lobby Government for a fairer funding deal for Derbyshire continuing to say no to G4S-style privatisation
- Increase visible neighbourhood and frontline policing when resources allow
- Prioritise the needs of victims and vulnerable people in our communities
- Ensure a robust response to new and emerging crimes such as Child Sexual Exploitation, Domestic Abuse,Human Trafficking and Cyber crime
- Continue to develop our pioneering approach to cracking down on drug and alcohol-related crime, hate crime and heritage, rural and wildlife crime and ensure appropriate services for those in Mental Health Crisis
- Reduce demand by working with partners to lower reoffending and keeping young people out of the criminal justice system
- Ensure all communities continue to have access to a robust, active and effective police service when and where they need it
- Enhance partnership approach to improve quality of life in communities, by tackling crime, disorder and Anti Social Behaviour, and issues such as road safety, fly-tipping, parking on pavements and dog fouling