People’s police champion is the cheapest in Wales

Police and Crime Commissioner North Wales Winston Roddick.
Police and Crime Commissioner North Wales Winston Roddick.

The North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner is the least expensive police boss in Wales.

The news was revealed as Winston Roddick CB QC, an ex-copper who rose to become Wales’s first Counsel General, celebrated his second anniversary in office.

Mr Roddick is proud that the costs of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales – around £800,000 a year – are also the second lowest across the group of most similar forces in England and Wales.

After training and working as a police constable in Liverpool, Mr Roddick, who was brought up in Caernarfon, studied law at University College London from which he graduated as a Master of Laws.

Mr Roddick went on to carve out an illustrious career as a barrister,  taking ‘silk’ as a Queen’s Counsel in 1986 and later becoming the Leader of the Wales and Chester Circuit, a Recorder of the Crown Court and the first Honorary Recorder of Caernarfon.

In 1986, as a member of the first Welsh Language Board, he was responsible for drafting the report which led to the passing of the Welsh Language Act of that year. He was appointed as the first Counsel General of Wales in 1998, the most senior legal adviser to the Welsh Assembly

Mr Roddick made history again when he was elected as North Wales’s first PCC in November 2012 as part of the UK-wide revolution in the way policing is governed, which saw the old police authorities swept away to be replaced by a single people’s champion accountable directly to the public.

He was awarded a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the New Year Honours List of 2003/04.

During his PCC election campaign, he promised to increase the visible presence of the police, to ensure security at home and safety on our streets, and to work with the Chief Constable and officers to ensure a police service of high standard.”

However, he said that the biggest problem facing him had been getting people to understand his role, which is why he has spent a good deal of his time driving forward initiatives aimed at communicating directly with the public of North Wales.

“It’s not surprising that people did not understand as it was such a new role. That’s why I have been reaching out to them to explain by example, to let them know that I am their representative in their relationship with the police,” he said.

An indication of the increasing public awareness of his role, according to the Commissioner, has been the sheer volume of correspondence coming into his office in Colwyn Bay.

“I am receiving 18 times the amount of correspondence the former Police Authority used to receive. This is evidence that members of the public are confident in contacting me to discuss policing matters in North Wales.”

The creation of the pioneering task force of officers dedicated to tackling crime in the countryside has also given him great satisfaction.

The Rural Crime Team is helping to turn North Wales into a no-go area for rural criminals and attracted the interest of a number of police forces across the UK.

Mr Roddick said of it: “We were the first to think of it and North Wales led by example in creating the team to fulfil an obvious need within the agricultural community.

“Farmers and their unions have demonstrated their appreciation of its creation and have given it their wholehearted support. It has resulted in a very substantial reduction in calls out to rural areas.”

An on-going initiative from the commissioner, supported by North Wales Police and North Wales Police and community Trust (PACT), is the use of cash seized from criminals to reward community groups devoted to tackling anti-social behaviour and combating crime and disorder.

Mr Roddick said: “There’s a total of £42,000 in the pot and two groups in each of the six counties will get £3,000 apiece and a £6,000 prize will go to the winning organisation that operates across North Wales.

“This is a fantastically important scheme and again communicates with the public to let people say how they want crime dealt with in their community to make it a safe place in which to live.

“They will come up with their own schemes to help the young, the old and the vulnerable.”

This year saw Mr Roddick launched the first ever Police and Crime Commissioner Community Awards to honour unsung heroes of the community who go the extra mile to make North Wales a safer place to live and work.

A host of awards were presented at a glittering presentation evening in the Kinmel Manor Hotel in October and Mr Roddick said: “I’m delighted that the awards were so well received. We had such a very healthy response from the public that I have been encouraged to repeat them next year.”

Looking back over his first two years in office, Mr Roddick said: “It’s been a challenging time because of the very new role which is without precedent in British policing history.

“I have enjoyed the past two years immensely and I think I have been measurably successful in my role.

“I’ve also managed to do everything without my office spending a penny more than the old police authority did in its last budget.

“I am particularly pleased that, according to the figures used by the HMIC for comparison purposes, the cost of my office is the lowest in Wales which shows that we have a lean but effective operation here in North Wales.

“The past two years have also been a challenge for my staff and I’d like to thank them for all the help they have given me.

“I would also like to thank my Deputy Commissioner, Julian Sandham, who is a former chief superintendent and has brought an enormous amount of police experience into my office.

“My aim is for the people of North Wales to feel secure at home and safe in public places.”