Bangor students were given the chance of grilling former police officer and independent PCC candidate Julian Sandham during a university debate on policing.
Mr Sandham, who was North Wales Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner until stepping down last month to run for the top job, joined PCC candidates Arfon Jones (Plaid Cymru) and David Taylor (Labour) for the hour-long question and answer session, held at Bangor University on Tuesday.
The former head of criminal justice for North Wales Police outlined his manifesto pledges to the packed audience of 70 students before being grilled on policing issues such as restorative justice, the relationship between police and young people and community engagement.
During the debate, Mr Sandham, who served with North Wales Police for 33 years – the last nine of which were as Chief Superintendent – was questioned about the way police respond to people suffering mental health crisis including victims of crime.
Reiterating his commitment to protecting vulnerable people and ensuring they received the right help and support from the outset, Mr Sandham highlighted the importance of having a mental health and wellbeing caseworker based in the North Wales Victim Help Centre whose job was to implement a support package for victims of crime who suffered mental health issues.
He also spoke more widely about the PCC’s community engagement role and the importance of the hands-on approach – seeking out the issues that mattered to local people rather than waiting for them to come knocking on the door.
Speaking after the event, Mr Sandham said: “This kind of live debate is a great way of encouraging young people to take a greater interest in policing and community safety and challenge ideas in a very open and transparent way.
“Young people face different safety risks than they did in the past and can help us with our prevention work to ensure the right messages are delivered to the right target audience. This can only enhance the police’s interaction and relationship with the younger generation in the long-term.
“The questions raised during the debate were pertinent and showed how seriously our younger residents feel about issues such as mental health and restorative justice as a means of rehabilitation for victim and offender.”
The debate event was organised by Dr Martina Feilzer from the university’s School of Social Sciences and followed an event held last week at Wrexham’s Glyndwr University in which Mr Sandham delivered a speech to criminology students on community engagement.
During his policing career, Mr Sandham held a number of high-profile posts including 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