New police commissioner wants communities to take back their streets
AREAS plagued by graffiti and anti-social behaviour must be taken back by their communities, says the new Police Commissioner.
Residents must do more to police themselves, Tony Hogg, pictured right, said yesterday.
"They are going to have to own their towns and villages."
Mr Hogg, a former naval commander who was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall last month, said: "Communities are going to have to work more closely with us.
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"They are going to have to say 'We are not going to put up with graffiti and anti-social behaviour.' And I am going to support them."
But he stressed that he was not calling for vigilantes.
Mr Hogg stood as the Conservative candidate in the first elections to the new American-style post of Police and Crime Commissioner.
Speaking yesterday, in his first major press conference since being elected, Mr Hogg called on areas which he said had not seen a police officer for years to put forward someone from the community as a Special Constable, trained by the police.
"There's an energy there and we have to help people and channel it in the right way."
He said some parts of Plymouth were "challenging".
In some areas people had got used to graffiti and anti-social behaviour and think 'That's just the way it is'.
"We are looking to reverse that by educating them that it doesn't have to be that way."
With Government cuts threatening police numbers, Mr Hogg wants to reduce demands on the police by getting communities to play their part.
"There are all kinds of opportunities if we can co-ordinate it.
"It's already there in many ways, from soup kitchens and Street Pastors through to Neighbourhood Watch and PubWatch."
The Commissioner aims to establish himself as a powerful lobby for any funding that is available for community and other voluntary groups.
He hopes people will take more pride in the areas where they live.
Soon after he was elected he toured the force area, meeting residents and community leaders in cities, towns and villages across the two counties.
Referring to the idea of more community involvement, he said: "Some towns, like St Austell, really got it. But there are other areas where I got a blank look.
"This is not the Conservative Party's Big Society. It is my own observation of where we can go."
In future funding for some voluntary groups including Victim Support could come under the Commissioner's control.
Mr Hogg said: "The people and the police have drifted apart."
Although the old Police Authority, which he was elected to replace, worked hard, it was "invisible".
"Perhaps if they had got that public engagement right we would not be where we are today."
Mr Hogg has inherited the offices and staff of the old Police Authority, which oversaw the work of the Chief Constable.
So far he has appointed one adviser on £20,000 a year, and no deputy.
He said he was holding off appointing new staff until he could identify the needs.
CALL FOR END TO 24-HOUR DRINKING
THE 24-hour drinking culture should go, says the new Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner.
Tony Hogg, who visited Plymouth clubland earlier this month, warned yesterday that he was not in favour of the open-all-hours policy.
“One of the things I was surprised about in the streets of Plymouth was to see people queuing for clubs and bars at 4.30am,” he said.
“I want people to enjoy themselves, but I am not sure we should see people starting to drink at 4.30 or 5am.
“I would like to put a stop to that. I am against 24-hour drinking.”
Mr Hogg spent hours on the front line with Plymouth police officers, walking Union Street, the Barbican leisure park, North Hill and Mutley as well as visiting the custody suite at Charles Cross police station, the CCTV control room and Crownhill Police station.
He came away convinced that tackling alcohol misuse will be one of his top priorities and told The Herald at the time that it puts a strain on police, hospitals and social services.
In his first set-piece press conference yesterday, Mr Hogg said: “I want to take on the issue of alcohol. I have seen the sheer resources needed to tackle alcohol in Plymouth.
“There were twentysomethings, fighting drunk and paralytic.
“It took eight police officers to keep them safe. One officer got bitten. It’s hard work for them.”
He said he backed the Government’s intention to bring in early morning restriction orders and the late-night levy on licensed premises.
“Half of domestic violence is alcohol-related,” Mr Hogg said.
but he did not agree with zero tolerance as a “blanket mechanism”, except in cases of sexual violence.
“Otherwise it’s too blunt, especially with young people.
“Ten per cent of young people create 30 per cent of crime, but so often they are the victims.”
Asked about drugs, which are fuelling the rise in acquisitive crime, Mr Hogg said: “We have got to look at reducing the inflow of drugs into the country, and then look at prevention.
“And we need to break the cycle of reoffending.”
One of the first tasks facing Mr Hogg is to appoint a new police chief.
Devon and Cornwall has been without a permanent Chief Constable since Stephen Otter announced he was leaving in January.
Mr Hogg said yesterday that he would aim to make the appointment by the end of January.
The job has been advertised, but Mr Hogg said that it could go to acting Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer.
The new Chief Constable will be in charge of police operations, answering to Mr Hogg as the force’s political boss.
The Home Office banned police authorities from appointing new chief constables earlier this year because of the imminent elections.
Mr Hogg has taken on the task of fighting for vital Government funding for the force, while at the same time shaving £50million from its budget by 2015.
COST OF POLICING IN DEVON AND CORNWALL SET TO RISE
THE public in Devon and Cornwall are likely to have to pay two per cent more to finance the police force.
Commissioner Tony Hogg has not finished drawing up his Policing Plan or budget.
But he said he was minded to increase the police precept – the amount taken from council tax payers – by two per cent.
“That two per cent is £3 a year on the council tax. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
“It would mean an extra 50 to 70 police.”
TONY HOGG DOESN'T LIKE 101 SERVICE
THE police non-emergency number 101 is not fit for purpose, says the new force boss.
“I am very disappointed in the 101 number,” Commissioner Tony Hogg said yesterday. “It has been well promoted but the user experience is very poor. I found very few people who have had a satisfactory answer. A caller might get an initial answer but then you can wait for up to half a hour to be dealt with. We have to get rid of that corrosive feeling of: Why bother?”