On Thursday in the House of Commons a “Business of the House” session took place in which MPs are able to direct questions at Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the House regarding future matters for discussion. The MP for Crawley Henry Smith asked a ‘question’ which is shown here and displays his own uncomplicated political allegiance but also a terrible lack of understanding of what has gone on in his constituency over the last five years and fifty weeks since Katy Bourne was elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex. The truth is that had any one of the other four candidates got elected, Henry would have been asking Andrea Leadsom to raise the question regarding the loss of Police Officers in Sussex since the PCC was elected, not the gain of a few hundred which will partly address these huge cuts. Whichever PCC was elected on 15th November 2012 and assuming they like Katy were re-elected in May 2016, they would have been forced due to the decisions taken by Theresa May and George Osborne between 2010 and 2016 to oversee massive cuts over Sussex Police and the loss of frontline Police Officers. There would however have been two very significant differences between the other candidates and Katy when it comes to police numbers.
The first is that the other four candidates committed themselves to increasing the police precept by 2% in April 2013 and would have continued to do so, ensuring that the accumulative impact of this funding source would have been far more effective than this late to the party approach from Katy. This is because she claimed at the outset that due to her business experience she would freeze the precept and instead improve the efficiency of the police force. Something she has never since achieved because she was simply using rhetoric without any credibility. However in freezing the precept she was faithfully obeying the hard line approach from Eric Pickles MP who was head of Communities and Local Government at the time because Katy has an ambition to end up in the Government. Since then the Tories have realised their mistake and so Katy has been a good Tory and has reversed her own promises and now is pushing for the maximum increase in our precept which is why there will be a modest but significant increase in police numbers, albeit 6 years after she started.
The second is a matter that she and Henry have ignored which is that it is their political party which is the cause of the funding cuts as mentioned above. Now had any of the other candidates been elected they would have regularly and consistently called for increases to the funding for Sussex Police from central Government which may well have irritated Henry and Andrea. Of course Katy didn’t do this because she is a member of the same party and she wants to win favours and gain influence amongst people like Henry and Andrea, let alone with people like Theresa and Sajid Javid and indeed any other potential Prime Minister. So this is a reason why electing a PCC with any party allegiance is bound to cause problems in the end or at the beginning or indeed throughout their tenure!