Nick O'Shea

Former Lib Dem councillor for Capel and Newdigate Learn more

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Here are answers to a selection of questions I have been asked during the campaign. If you have a question you wanted answered and it is not here, please email or write to me at the address on the right of the screen.

You mentioned the creation of a consultant council, but beyond this are there any specific ways for Surrey residents to give you feedback if you’re elected? I’m thinking some kind of regular community session or something just so regular people can drop in and bring up issues and discuss proposals etc? Even an online forum or something.

If I am elected, as well as having the consultative council to which representatives of residents’ and other organisations would be invited, everyone would be able to contact me through my website where I would have an on-line forum for people to raise questions or make suggestions, writing to or phoning my office.

I would also arrange regular meetings in all boroughs and districts to which all members of the public would be invited and could attend and where they would be able to ask me questions.

I would try to ensure that these consultation and public participation events and arrangements were publicised as widely as possible, and that local radio stations and newspapers had details of them which they published regularly.

I would not intend to publish and post to all households any ‘council newspaper’ type brochures as I see these as a waste of money, but simple leaflets giving details of the policing plan, complaints procedures, forthcoming police and law-enforcement events such as NWH and meeting your Neighbourhood police would be available locally, and would liaise with the local councils, doctors’ surgeries and possibly village shops for copies to be available as widely and readily as possible.

PCCs will have a statutory duty to obtain the views of victims of crime – how do you feel this can be best achieved?

Feed-back on their experience with Surrey police will be sought from all victims of crime, and from everyone referred to Victims support.
I would encourage any who wished to discuss their case with me or my staff to do so.
I will also be developing a consultative council which would help me develop the policing plan. Representative of victims groups would be invited to join this. This would have a number of panels similar to the panels used by the Police Authority, and one of which would be tasked with representing the views of victims.
I also welcome the Coalition Government’s announcement about creating a Victims’ Commissioner, and look forward to working with them.

What are your views on heritage crime and wildlife crime?

I am concerned about criminal damage to heritage sites and wildlife, and would expect Surrey Police to be pro-active is seeking to protect both from damage, working with organisation such as the National Trust, English Heritage and other private and public owners and tenants of sites with important heritage or wildlife to ensure they are adequately protected.

However, in terms of priorities there are a number of crimes which are of far greater concern to most residents, such as anti-social behaviour, drug and alcohol related disorder and abuse, drug and people trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and assaults against people from minority or vulnerable groups. Particularly where these involve violence or injury to people, I would expect Surrey Police to give these with higher priority than crimes which do not.

Do you agree that gun laws and gun licencing arrangements are too strict?

The ownership, availability and use of all forms of fire-arms should be strictly controlled and their lawful use should be limited as much as possible.

I would expect all Surrey residents to comply with and Surrey Police to enforce the law, although the relaxation in monitoring and issuing of gun licences that has happened over the past few years is regrettable. I would do my best to ensure that given their other responsibilities and priorities, Surrey Police enforce these regulations as actively as possible so as to ensure all legally held fire arms are kept as safely and securely as possible and used only as permitted by law.

I expect that as responsible members of the community, owners and users of fire arms would assist them in monitoring and if necessary enforcing fire arms control regulations so that their use is lawful and that they are kept out of the reach of criminals as much as possible.

Why are you standing as a “Liberal Democrat” – this is a non-political role?

I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats since the party was founded 25 years ago, and served as an elected councillor for 8 years. Consequently, many people, certainly in the Mole Valley area, know me as a Liberal Democrat, and would find it rather odd were I to stand for election to public office as a so-called ‘independent’ or without a party affiliation. Also, there are important aspects of this job – the setting of council tax and priorities for the police – which are inherently political, so it is helpful for people to have a short-hand way to see what my likely general political and ethical principles are when deciding who to vote for.

There is no such thing as an ‘independent’ politician or person whose involvement in public life requires political decisions such as this one does. Even where there are groups or individuals who stand as such, they work together in election campaigns and form legally constituted political groups on councils where they are elected, such as Mole Valley, Epsom & Ewell and Surrey CC, just like the other political parties. Indeed, I can assure you from my experience as group leader on Mole Valley 15 years ago that individual Liberal Democrats are at least as independent minded and free to act on their own views and beliefs as members of such groups.

I developed and wrote the policies in my manifesto myself, with input and advice but not instructions from not only party members (including several MPs – one of whom is now a minister – and Peers), but also from a number of a-political friends including several retired senior Surrey police officers. I see the ability to have and use contacts at the highest level of government and parliament a distinct advantage in a role such as this. So-called ‘independents’ are very unlikely to have these connections. If elected, I would have no ‘party line’ to follow and I would be free (‘unfettered’) to make my own decisions and adopt such policies as I felt appropriate to the particular circumstances and needs of the residents of Surrey.

What is your vision for policing in Surrey?

I want Surrey Police to be able to work with other forces across Europe – which is why I am worried about the Tories’ intention to opt-out of the European Arrest Warrant and 130 pan-European law enforcement arrangement which many ex-police officesr and ACPO think are fundamental to working with European collegues to fight international drug gangs and terrorists.

> I want Surrey’s residents to have the most effective, reliable and trustworthy police and justice services in the country;
> I want criminals to realise that they are very likely to be brought to justice, to recognise and rectify the damage they do to all their victims, to themselves and their own families;
> I want everyone who is the victim of crime in Surrey to have the confidence to report it, in the certain knowledge that they will get the help, protection and support they need.
This is a big ask. It will not be achieved just through tough words and simplistic ideas. It will take assertive leadership, hard work and decisive action to make these objectives happen. Anyone who just gives you a shopping list of aspirations or tells you that delivering a quality and effective police and justice system is simple and can be done through rousing words and demanding targets alone neither understands nor realises the task before them.
All my initiatives have been costed to ensure value for money and a cost-neutral impact on existing budgets, and evaluated by former Surrey police officers to ensure they are appropriate, viable and will work.

What inspired you to stand as a Police & Crime Commissioner?

My father and grandfather both served as police officers in Surrey, and a member of my family is one currently. So a commitment to providing the people of Surrey with a safe community runs deep in the family genes. My career took me into business management, but also to serve as a local councillor for eight years, so it seemed quite natural for me to want to be the county’s first elected Police & Crime Commissioner.

Why are you qualified to be the Police & Crime Commissioner?

I have the extensive range of experience and qualifications necessary:
> understanding policing: through my family’s involvement over nearly a century;
> former councillor: experience in seeking, representing and acting on peoples’ views and concerns;
> successful businessman: developed and managed objectives and held top management accountable ;
> both public and private sector experience: councillor and later consultant to the NHS and director in industry;
> ability to improve cost effectiveness: by running an organisation efficiently, without compromising effectiveness;
> a fresh start: not a JP, Police officer or Police Authority member, professional politician or would-be MP.

What one thing would you like to change about local policing if you were elected?

Make solutions to both crime and the fear of it more effective and more local.

To be truly effective at a local level, policing needs to be focused on delivering solutions to crime and the fear of crime specific for each local community. To deliver a seamless service tailored to local needs, expectations and circumstances, neighbourhood police teams need to work increasingly closely with ordinary people as well as local councils, agencies such housing associations, the county council’s trading standards, youth , education and social services, victims’ groups, community organisations and residents’ representatives.

As Surrey’s Police & Crime Commissioner, I will have three priorities:

> delivering effective neighbourhood and front-line policing;
> significantly improve detection to reduce crime and repeat offending;
> giving quality support to the victims and witnesses of crime.

There priorities will be used to deliver goals which reflect the priority given by the public to dealing with the more serious and most unacceptable crimes such as violence, sexual abuse and drug dealing, and to those which cause residents the most personal concern such as anti-social behaviour, burglary and vehicle speeding.

How do you view your role in the criminal justice system beyond policing?

“No man is an island,” neither can the Police alone ensure a community is safe from crime. I have talked a lot above about working with other members of the community, other agencies and charities involved in victim support, criminal justice and detecting crime.

I see the Commissioner’s job as being a facilitator – someone who not only gets things done but also motivates others to make things happen. Only by working with all the other organisations and individuals involved in these processes can the Commissioner achieve the improvements which need to be made.

Are you concerned about Police Morale and what would you do about it?

Yes, I am concerned. Police morale is low as a result of a number of things – particularly the impact of Winsor 1 & 2 on terms of service including revisions to pay scales and increases in pension contribution, and the potentially confrontational message his subsequent appointment by the Tory Home Secretary as Chief Inspector at HMIC gives.

There is also uncertainty over the impact of the PCC elections, and the future of both national and international cooperation and collaboration with the renewed talk about force mergers, the creation of the National Crime Agency and the Tories’ proposals to opt-out of European Arrest Warrants. In Surrey, these have been compounded by the pressure on performance consequent to the need to improve the force’s historically poor detection rate and the massive changes which have occurred as a result of moving out of police stations and organisational changes with going to a single division and the roll-out of Neighbourhood policing.

Given that the police pension scheme is unfunded, it was inevitable that contributions from both employees and employers would need to rise as retirees live longer.

I am disappointed that Tim Winsor has thought fit to challenge so significantly the pay and conditions of police officers, particularly at the lower grades. Police pay, conditions and practices must be brought into the 21st century, there are right and wrong ways to go about this, and I am unhappy that the Home Secretary has taken such an uncompromising approach to this. While some of the proposals in Winsor 2 such as pay by performance and recognition of professional development are worth considering, those like direct entry at Superintendent level and requirements for increased educational qualifications for all entrants are questionable.

I would wish to see further detailed discussions and negotiations on the implementation of these reviews, and if elected would wish to work through the national negotiation arrangements with the Home Office and police representatives bodies such as the Police Federation, Superintendents’ Association and ACPO to find a more acceptable path forward.

I would also work with the Chief Constable to ensure Surrey’s performance, particularly its detection rate, improves. There is nothing that works more to raise morale than success – and that would be a success they could all share in.