Police and Crimes Commissioner

Here is the message which I sent to each candidate for the position of Police and Crimes Commissioner in my area (Devon and Cornwall Police Authority):-

Dear "Candidate",
In respect to your canvassing for votes for the PCC position, where do you stand on the following issues:-
1.  Hate crimes (especially transphobic and gay hate crime).

2.  What priority will you give to crimes of this type.
3.  How do you plan to work with the IAG's which operate in the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority area.

So far I have had just 2 replies, one from the only female candidate and she showed a good understanding of the problem, the other was from an independent candidate who simply avoided answering any of the points and insisted on talking about alcohol related crime.

Response from Nicky Williams:-
Dear Carol,
Thank you for your questions.
There should be no place for hate crime in our communities. We need to work together to tackle this problem, since hate crimes not only affect individuals, but families, communities and our wider society. In 2011 Devon and Cornwall recorded 715 hate crimes, but we all know that this figure bears no relation to the actual number of crimes and incidents which occur - the majority go unreported. Worryingly, this number is less than that reported in two previous years. Usually where crime is concerned this is good news, but in hate crime such a reduction means that more incidents are going unreported.
Talking about and tackling hate crime is never easy. Often the underlying problems that lead to it are based on deeply held personal, political, cultural or religious beliefs. This can never be a reason to shy away from the issues, however. When people are abused, attacked or even killed because they are seen as "different", whether that's through race, disability, sexuality, gender or gender identity, or nationality, that is simply wrong. Most challenging can be when people use cultural or religious values as a reason to attack or abuse others, or as a reason to not get involved. But violence isn't cultural - it's criminal.
Neither the PCC nor Devon and Cornwall Constabulary can achieve real change in this area if they just act alone. The fear created by hate crimes means that we can't rely solely on victims reporting incidents to the police, either. It must be made easier for both victims and witnesses of hate crime to report incidents of abuse and violence. On-line and anonymous reporting mechanisms in Devon and Cornwall have helped, but we now need to do more. People need to be able to report occurrences in the way, and to the people, they feel most comfortable with and sure of. This might be a church or mosque, a doctor or hospital, their local council or housing association or a whole range of voluntary and community groups. To make this happen, I will support the creation of a network of Third Party Reporting Centres through the sorts of groups and organisations mentioned, alongside supported advocacy for victims. I think this approach is especially important in transphobic hate crime.
2. What priority will you give to crimes of this type?
I recognise the impact that hate crimes have on individuals, families, communities and wider society, and have made it clear in my manifesto that the issue of hate crime will form part of the Police and Crime Plan for Devon, Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly. I will expect the police to make more than token efforts in identifying which crimes should be classified as hate crimes, so that the real extent of any problem can be seen and addressed.
3. How do you plan to work with the IAG's which operate in the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority area?
Devon and Cornwall Constabulary’s Independent Advisory Groups provide critical and valuable information advice and guidance to the police around the impact of strategic decision making, policing service delivery and service changes on members of diverse communities. At present members and staff from the Police Authority attend these meetings and I will continue this practice from the Police and Crime Commissioner office, personally attending meetings and events wherever possible.
I will take on board feedback from the members of the IAGs when I draw up the Police and Crime Plan, as well as using their expertise and scrutiny to inform the duty I will have to hold the Chief Constable to account. It goes without saying that I will have an open-door policy to the IAGs if they want to discuss specific issues with me.

Response from Will Morris (Independent):-
The response from Mr. Morris did not address the questions I had asked and he came back with a lot of waffle about alcohol related crime - from this I can only assume he is actually completely ignorant about this type of crime and would hence give it a very low priority - or that he is trans/homophobic himself and hence decided to give an answer which was totally unrelated to the questions.
Later:  Mr Morris wrote back to me after I told him that he had completely evaded the question and said that he would work to abolish hate crime - but then went on to say that the IAG's (Independent Advisory Groups) were "
dysfunctional and  not fit for purpose. It only meets in Plymouth (and occasionally Exeter) and  produces policies that are virtually worthless.  It is a talking shop and in my view a waste of time. The point is that it identifies problems such as the lack of  Black and Ethnic minority recruitment - and then does nothing - fails even to  speak out and condemn - and nothing is done. It is ineffective and  pointless".  Obviously he is not really on the ball

01-11-2012 No further responses have been forthcoming 3 days after I sent out that email to all prospective candidates.

Response from Tony Hogg (Conservative)
"I have dealt with hundreds of emails relating to my policies before this election. We face grave issues in domestic and sexual violence but hate crime seems so inexcusable. I have pledged support for disability and other hate crimes. I have to admit to not knowing what transphobic means below - perhaps you would help me out. Hate crimes will get high priority of I am elected. I would look to IAGs to be the experts and, as with other specialist advisers, I will meet on a regular basis."
I have written back to him with a short reply explaining what transphobia is, and encouraging him to read up on the topic.  At least he was upfront about his lack of knowledge on the subject, but nevertheless, I did find it worrying that somebody who was running for this position did not even know the meaning of the word - it is quite easy to check what it is by Googling the term.

10-11-2012 What is extremely depressing is that of the ten candidates who are standing for this position, only three have actually bothered to respond - and two of those showed little understanding of hate crime and transphobic hate crime in particular.  It is now 2 weeks since I wrote to each candidate and with the elections being just five days away now, I doubt if any of the other candidates will be bothered to respond.  With this in mind, I will be voting for Nicky Williams as she has an understanding of the situation and is willing to work with minority groups to help stamp out hate crime in the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority area and I would urge other people to cast their vote for her as well.  All reports suggest that there will be a low turnout for these elections, so your vote of Nicky Williams could make a huge difference in who gets elected - if you don't vote and get a Commissioner who has no interest in hate crime and will make it a very low priority on their agenda, then you only have yourselves to blame if somebody less understanding gets elected to this position.

14-11-2012 Last day before the election and no further responses to my email

14-11-2012 (9:30pm)  I have finally heard back from one of the other candidates (Brian Greenslade) virtually begging for my vote - but didn't even have the decency to answer any of the questions I had raised with him.  I replied back, telling him that his pleas for my vote were too little and far too late.


  1. Carol. Thank you for your efforts in researching the candidates knowledge and opinions where they relate to transphobia and hate crime.
    It is a shocking revelation to find that all but one of the current 'senior officers' and potential candidates appear to be unaware of the crime, and apparently uninterested despite it's relatively high profile.
    It has certainly influenced my vote and I hope others will follow your lead.
    Sue James

  2. It is something that I am passionate about Sue and by reporting it in my blog I hoped to bring forth the candidates knowledge and ideas that they might have in combating this particular form of hate crime.
    It would seem that only one particular candidate was knowledgeable and determined to help stamp out transphobia and that is why she will be getting my vote and why I would recommend that anybody else casts their vote for her as well.


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Thank you for your patience -- Carol