Independent PCC candidate Julian Sandham has pledged to do everything in his power to reduce the impact of crime on rural businesses and livelihoods if elected as North Wales’ next Police and Crime Commissioner.
The former policeman, who served as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner until stepping down last month to run for the top job, addressed local farmers during the Gaerwen livestock auction this week, organised by Morgan Evans & Co.
In his speech, the 58-year-old described the work of the Rural Crime Team – a proactive policing unit set up in response to public demand during the tenure of North Wales’ first PCC Winston Roddick QC, who announced that he would not be standing for election again last month. The primary aim of the team is to reduce farming and wildlife crime and provide a more robust response to the needs of rural communities.
Mr Sandham, a former head of criminal justice for North Wales Police, said he would continue to prioritise rural crime if elected and would make sure that local people knew who to turn to for help on crime prevention. This work would include more engagement with rural communities and optimising use of the messaging alert system to warn residents of live crime threats so they could protect themselves and their property.
“Crime costs our rural economy thousands of pounds every year and places many individual livelihoods under threat as well as reducing confidence and feelings of safety among the community,” he said after the event.
“Rural communities often feel isolated and I want to change that, if elected. All residents and business owners have a right to feel safe – wherever they live – and it’s important to me that we do everything we can to promote reassurance by having the resources in place to deal with rural crime quickly and making sure we’re available to talk to people and listen to their concerns.
“Rural communities face different criminal threats to their urban counterparts, with farming businesses targeted specifically because of the expensive machinery they use and their isolated geographical location. We need a team of officers appropriately trained to deal with these issues which is the strength of the Rural Crime Team. This is an area I will continue to focus on if elected.”
During the auction event, Mr Sandham met Dafydd Davies, a farmer from the Porthmadog area, to listen to his concerns on crime and rural policing and was introduced to other farmers from the local area.
Among the top three issues raised was accessibility – the importance of local people having the contact details of their Rural Crime Team members; the effectiveness of the messaging alert system which helps to provide early notification of criminal or suspicious activity in rural communities and the importance of engagement work with rural neighbourhoods and farmers to find out the issues that matter to local people.
Mr Davies commented: “I think that having a member of the Rural Crime Team accessible to farmers has been a major step forward and I would like to see it continue. I would welcome more local opportunities to discuss policing issues for example at events such this.”
Mr Sandham, who has promised to keep party politics out of policing if elected, has 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 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.
Among his five key manifesto pledges is a commitment to maintain a modern policing service by ensuring police officers are fully equipped to do their job, including increasing the use of body-worn video as an evidence-gathering tool and crime deterrent.
“North Wales needs continuity. My commitment is straightforward: I want to create an environment in which people are secure in their homes and safe in public places.”