Police and Crime Commissioner spends your taxes on more admin staff rather than police officers

Liberal Democrat County Councillors were astounded when they were told today (8th November) that the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd, intends to employ an additional 20-30 administrative staff instead of funding more police posts.

County Councillors on the Community Safety and Waste Management Cabinet Panel heard a report from Colin Woodward, a County representative on the Police and Crime Panel (the body that is supposed to hold the commissioner to account), that David Lloyd planned to employ the coach-load of administrators to ‘help him do his job’.

Paul Zukowskyj, Opposition Deputy Leader and Lib Dem councillor for Hatfield South, commented: “Having presided over the loss of hundreds of police staff since he was first elected, to require now more admin staff to do the job he was elected to do is laughable.

“We’ve seen recruitment to the police plummet; in some areas over half of posts are vacant. Morale in the remaining staff is at an all time low, crime has started to rise as the force is stretched ever thinner, but our PCC needs more admin staff and is willing to spend your taxes on that rather than on police officers.

“Our PCC has recently put in a bid to run our fire service too. After this example of bloating bureaucracy I don’t think he should be trusted to run a bath, let alone critical emergency services.”

Did Herts Police Tsar deliberately mislead County Council?

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, was recently challenged at a Council meeting by Paul Zukowskyj, Lib Dem shadow cabinet member for resources, about the loss of constabulary staff, including significant numbers of police officers and PCSO’s, since Mr Lloyd was first elected in 2012.

Government data clearly show a fall in constabulary staff from 3729 FTE in 2012 to 3398 FTE in 2017.

The minutes of the meeting state “Mr Lloyd stated that he did not recognise the challenge and provided assurance that his office was committed to retaining the same number of PCSO’s within the county”. In the meeting Mr Lloyd stated that the staff numbers appeared to have fallen much more than they actually had due to the establishment of cross-county collaborative units and redeployment of staff to them.

However, in response to an FOI to Hertfordshire Constabulary, the Constabulary state they have followed the guidance by the Home Office in preparing the figures: “For the purposes of counting accurately, officers and staff that are part of these units should be counted only by the force whose payroll they are on.”

So are the staff on the payroll of another force? (more…)

Lib Dems oppose Police taking over Fire Service

The Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner has this week released his plan for taking over the Fire Service, justifying the idea with massive ‘efficiency savings’ including ‘one-off capital receipts’ of up to £15m.

Paul Zukowskyj, lead Lib Dem member on the Community Safety panel at County Hall condemned the move saying, “David Lloyd has virtually completed his asset-stripping of the police, including overseeing the loss of more than three hundred police posts across the county since 2012 and closing numerous police station front desks, now he wants to do the same asset stripping to our fire service.

“We need the services, as we’ve seen recently with the terror attacks and now the fire in Grenfell Tower. Asset stripping them will mean they might not be there when we need them the most. This hostile take-over has to be stopped and the Lib Dems at County Hall will resist it every step of the way.” 

Paul continued: “Will closure of Fire Stations follow the closure of our Police Stations?  The Yearly revenue savings of up to £4m, which are most likely to comprise staff losses, are likely to mean less fire fighters at a time when the need for both services has never been clearer. The one-off capital receipts are likely sales to developers of fire or police stations, which the PCC says are no longer required. (more…)

Keep your homes safe on bonfire night

Message from Neighbourhood Watch:

We are reminding residents to keep their homes secure and report suspicious behaviour over the Firework weekend.

Last year 18 burglaries occurred in St Albans between November 5 and November 8, when many people were out attending firework displays. Therefore, we are urging residents to leave lights on when  going out to a firework display or if they leave their home empty any time after it gets dark.

Residents can make their homes more secure by following some basic crime prevention advice such as:

  • Make a habit of checking that ground floor windows and doors are closed and locked when you leave the house or go to bed. Upstairs windows should be locked when the house is unoccupied.
  • PVCu doors must be locked by lifting the handle and turning the key to ensure all the security features are in place.
  • Car and house keys should be kept out of sight in a safe place. Don’t leave them on display on window sills, in porches, hallways or kitchens.
  • Secure your rear garden by shutting and locking any gates. Burglars can use garden tools to break in, so make sure you securely lock away any tools after use.
  • Use timer switches on a lamp, radio or tv set so that they turn on as it gets dark in the evenings.

‘No’ to police and fire merger

Chris White has followed up on comments made last week on BBC Radio with a firm pledge to oppose any attempts to merge the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service with the Police Service.

Chris said: ‘It is high time we had evidence-based politics in this country – not centrally imposed dogma. The Fire Service is fine where it is – part of the County Council where it prevents and fights fires and undertakes rescues with consummate skill. Anyone who saw the magnificent performance at Buncefield a few years ago knows this.

‘So if it ain’t broke don’t fix it – just because some Conservative special advisor in Whitehall has noticed that fire engines and police cars both have blue lights.’

Chris added: ‘We need integration between services so that they work together. The creation of the Police and Crime Commissioner post has made working with other public services like councils and the NHS more difficult. Let’s not make it any more difficult by removing the Fire Service from the control of local electors.’

Help tackle crime

Residents are being asked for their views on how to make the St Albans District an even safer place to live and work

A public consultation has started into looking at ways of reducing crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour.

People are also being invited to say what the District’s crime-fighting priorities should be.

The survey is being undertaken by the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) whose members include St Albans City and District Council and Hertfordshire Police.

Residents can give their opinions by filling in a short online form or paper questionnaire by Friday 1 April.

Feedback from the consultation will be used by the CSP to develop a plan for the year ahead to tackle crime across the District. (more…)

Lib Dems to select Chris White as prospective Police Commissioner Candidate

On Saturday Liberal Democrats from across the County are gathering to approve and formally select their candidate for the forthcoming PCC elections.

The prospective candidate, Chris White, is well known across the County, as Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on St Albans Council and as a Hertfordshire county councillor.

He has built a reputation as a formidable campaigner. Chris has much experience of working on policing issues in his local community and as former chair of the Hertfordshire Police Authority Audit Committee.

Chris qualified as a chartered accountant in 1984 and has worked in accountancy, accountancy training and public affairs. He was a member of the Board of the Audit Commission from 2005 to 2011 and is currently Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on the Local Government Association.

You can find out about Chris’s work as a councillor at his website. (more…)

Cynical electioneering condemnation of Tory Police Commissioner

Liberal Democrats have dismissed the current Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s proposals to reduce his council tax precept as ‘cynical electioneering’.

Speaking for the Liberal Democrat Group Chris White said: ‘What a surprise. With elections for the Police and Crime Commissioner position only weeks away, we suddenly find he has put round a letter saying how marvellous he is and a suggested financial sweetener.

‘This sort of activity can only make the public even more cynical about politicians.

‘What we need to hear about is a budget to secure adequate policing in Hertfordshire. I doubt very much that cutting the already squeezed funding is likely to help the public feel safer.’

Bars and clubs asked to contribute towards taxi marshall scheme

More City centre bars and clubs are being asked to give financial backing to the Taxi Marshall scheme that has been making St Albans safer.

St Albans City and District Council has been helping to run the project designed to ensure people return home safely after a night out.

The Marshalls patrol taxi queues in St Peter’s Street and Batchwood Hall to stop them becoming flashpoints for alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour.

Many local businesses may benefit from the measure which is intended to keep St Albans as a safe and pleasant place for an evening out. (more…)