North Wales PCC candidate Julian Sandham has pledged to give local people a greater say in community payback schemes if elected to ensure they do exactly “what they say on the tin”.
In a speech to criminology students at Wrexham’s Glyndwr University today (Wednesday), the independent candidate highlighted the importance of effective community engagement in solving crime, gathering intelligence towards solving crime and protecting the community and making sure people feel safe in their homes and on the streets.
The former head of Criminal Justice for North Wales Police, who was North Wales Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner until stepping down last month to run for the top job, said the role of the PCC and police officers was to go out and hunt down the issues that mattered most to local people – not wait for the big events to manifest themselves on the doorstep.
And he said he would campaign to make sure offenders whose punishments involved community rehabilitation work were tasked with practical projects that had been identified by the very residents who will benefit from them.
“I will take a personal interest in ensuring that community payback does exactly what it says on the tin,” he told the packed audience of students.
“I would seek to raise awareness by asking people, as part of my own engagement activity, what work or schemes they would like to be addressed in their communities because I do believe that there is an issue here about it not just happening but being seen to be happening.”
The former bobby, who was appointed to Deputy PCC two years ago, said community engagement was one area he wished to enhance if elected on May 5.
He recalled a policing operation he had overseen while a Chief Superintendent with North Wales Police in which a cannabis factory had been discovered in a residential area in Bangor. He said the sight of the small sleeping quarters, with no natural light, discarded food containers and sleeping bags on tiled floors, had given him an uncomfortable feeling that had remained with him ever since.
“This site was in the middle of a residential area, how come no-one had reported seeing anything suspicious to the police?” he said.
He said it was not enough that the public simply knew the name of their PCC or local bobby but that the two worked together, following the Peelian principle of the “police being the public and the public being the police”.
“I think for the Commissioner and for the police, both of whom are responsible for engaging with people, this aspect of “professional curiosity” is important,” he said.
“The very big issues tend to manifest themselves and come to you. But, the rest of the time you have to go out and find the issues. That means visiting town council meetings, visiting livestock markets and speaking to farmers, it means visiting business clubs; probing issues, asking questions – professional curiosity.”
Mr Sandham served North Wales Police for 33 years – the last nine of which were as Chief Superintendent. Among his high-profile posts were Divisional Commander of Central Division and Head of Criminal Justice for the Force.
Following completion of his police service, the former Ysgol John Bright school pupil was appointed project manager for Conwy County Borough Council’s regional CCTV collaboration and later lectured in police studies at the Midlands Academy of Business and Technology before being appointed Deputy PCC two years ago.
During today’s event, Mr Sandham highlighted key successes during the last term including the launch of the North Wales Victim Help Centre in which victim engagement was a priority, reducing victim-based crime in North Wales by 9.3%, protecting frontline resources, reducing farming and wildlife crime through the Rural Crime Team and year-on-year reductions in burglaries and antisocial behaviour.