THE Labour candidate for the brand new Police Commissioner role says that he will fight police privatisation and coalition funding cuts tooth and nail if he wins a public poll in November.
High Town resident Olly Martins, 42, won his party’s hustings last week to stand for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) role which will see one person oversee policing across Bedfordshire.
Mr Martins, who worked with victims of crime in his role for Victim Support for eight years, told the Luton News that his career has left him in good stead for the brand new role which will replace the existing Beds Police Authority.
And protecting things like Victim Support is one of his key priorities.
He said: “My work has given me a great insight into what it’s like to be a victim of crime. Victim Support is centrally funded as a national organisation and gets a certain amount of funding from the Home Office but that funding will be invoked to police commissioners and there’s no obligation to channel that funding back to Victim Support.
“Funding is ringfenced for the first year but with cuts to police finances there’s going to be a lot of pressure on budgets and a police commissioner could decide that the funding is more important elsewhere, it could destroy Victim Support as a viable organisation.
“When you’re grappling with a problem like 20 per cent police cuts you’ve got to know what your priorities are and be aware that you’ve got to make difficult decisions. But you’re not going to please all of the people all of the time.”
Other priorities for Mr Martins, who was a Labour Councillor in Liverpool for eight years and is a member of the Army Reserve, are safeguarding police presence on our streets and limiting proposed privatisation of certain arms of the force.
“One of the things we’re prioritising is visable policing. When Labour were in government we cut crime by 43 per cent and one of the ways we did that was getting police officer numbers up,” he said.
“We’re also seeing a lot of forces looking to privatise to cut costs, I don’t think that’s a good thing, the reality is I couldn’t rule out having to do some things like that but I don’t think that wholesale privatisation is the right way forward. I’m opposed to making a profit out of delivering a public service.”
And while canvassing an area the size of Bedfordshire to make his policies known may be a huge challenge in itself, Mr Martins says that ensuring that people know there is an election and turn out to vote is half the battle.
He said: “It’s important that people vote. It’s a very powerful role, effectively a mini Home Secretary. The trouble is people know when there is a parliamentary election coming up but at the moment people don’t seem to know a lot about this. Raising awareness is the first battle and high profile candidates help, I was pleased to see John Prescott put himself forward.
And, should he be elected, Mr Martins’ staunch Labour background won’t get in the way of working towards what’s best for the county.
“I’m a very political animal but I’m capable of building working relationships with people in other parties and I realise that that is the only effective way to perform the role. It’s a political process in terms of voting, but once that’s over it’s important that all parties work together,” he said.