Why I’m standing to be Warwickshire’s Next Police and Crime Commissioner
No generation without representation
I’m Ben, I’m 22, and I want to represent you as your next Police and Crime Commissioner.
I’m an independent candidate in the Warwickshire PCC election on 5th May 2016. I’m also a Masters of Law student at Warwick and have worked for two PCCs, leading on areas including drug and alcohol policy, organised crime and youth engagement.
I fear that students of university or college are often ignored in these elections by candidates cynically sticking to their traditional base of older voters. Students are also facing the extra, and in my view needless, barrier to democracy that is registering to vote. With recent changes to the voter register, a vast number of students are no longer registered and will be denied their chance to vote.
We need change in Warwickshire, and that change begins with a question. Do we need more police officers? Or do we need fewer criminals?
This is the core issue of my campaign. It doesn’t mean, as a couple of people have suggested, that I’m all for bringing back hanging. Instead my number one priority is the prevention of crime, which is all about diverting people away from criminal attitudes and behaviours at the earliest opportunity.
Prevention and early intervention saves us all a great deal of suffering in the long run, but if that doesn’t convince you then think about the money. It costs around £38k a year to keep one person in prison. As long as you agree that children aren’t born to be criminals then there must be a number of stages in that person’s life where we could have helped to turn them away from a criminal path.
The other candidates I’m running against seem to be fixated on ‘more visible policing’, which wastes the potential of the Police and Crime Commissioner role. The PCC is responsible for policing and crime in the county, and must therefore look at the bigger picture. Reducing the number of criminals involves tackling crime at its source, not just responding at the end of the line with that eternal demand for more police.
Beyond this there are areas that need prioritising, such as hidden abuse and cyber-crime, and areas that need refocusing, like drug policy and youth engagement. Many students of Warwick University live in the Warwickshire Policing Area, and I want to represent your needs. In Britain today 18-24 year olds, the group to which I belong, commit the most crime. We are also the most common victims of crime. Despite this, we have no real voice in the way policing and the criminal justice system works.
I understand the issues that face the campus and would act on them. This includes holding the police to account for their handling of protests, and tackling the growing trend of sexual assaults and rapes related to dating apps and the night economy.
I love my Masters, and my specialism in human rights has helped to inform my approach to this election. I know however that many students, as well as the wider population, are unaware of the PCC role. Young people in particular are being cut out of this process.
It is important people vote in this crucial election and give meaning to the idea that we are policed by consent. I believe I am best placed to reflect your views and channel your voice into achieving change. Having worked with two PCCs I have more direct experience of the role than the other candidates, and my manifesto includes the ideas that drive my campaign.
I want to secure a county where each of our voices are heard and taken seriously, where all ages work together to preserve and enhance our common future.
If we tell a generation that they can’t inspire, they can’t lead, they can’t change anything…then that generation is lost. Their talents unused, their perspective unwanted, and their contribution denied. It is time for all the generations of 2016 to come together under an inclusive banner of hope and change. It is time for a fresh approach.
*The Warwick Campus is divided between two police force areas, Warwickshire and West Midlands. Students living in Lakeside, Sherbourne, Heronbank, Redfern and Cryfield are all able to vote for Ben. Warwickshire also includes areas off campus including Kenilworth, Warwick and Leamington Spa.
In order to vote on May 5th, it is essential to have registered by April 18th at the latest. You can do so at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote