The emergency services belong to all of us – and we need to be kept in the know
It’s been a busy few days for the campaign, meeting people in places all over the county: Huntingdon, Wisbech, Reach, St Ives, Bar Hill, Cambridge, St Neots, Fulbourne, Waterbeach, Dogsthorpe, Paston, Great Shelford, Romsey, Ramsey, Orton, Woodston, Cambridge City, Abbotts Ripley, East Chesterton, Cambourne, Sawston, Histon, Warboys, Flitten, Littleport, Sutton, Ely and Peterborough. Some places I have visited several times and these visits can be seen here
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but police visibility is clearly a defining issue for many local communities. People consistently raise their desire to see more officers out on the beat.
With Tory politicians’ unwise and damaging cuts to policing, this is a problem that will only get worse unless we make real change. There is a real thirst for a community police service which is visible, accountable and makes connections with the public – and this support comes from both within the police itself, and from outside.
This brings me on to the subject of the Dotty Cloud radio show I took part in last Thursday morning – I went on the show to discuss the need for serious discussion provoked by the Trumpington Park and Ride busway derailment in February, and specifically the controversy over emergency services’ response times to the incident.
For those who missed it, a report into the accident appears to indicate that 50 minutes had elapsed before two seriously injured passengers on the bus were given proper attention.
However, other passengers and emergency services who witnessed the event dispute this, arguing that the response time was in fact considerably faster. From conversations I have had with firefighters, I understand that they arrived at the site of the incident within seven minutes, but the call they responded to didn’t come from the county council. I also understand that the ambulance service is deeply frustrated about this.
There is no doubt that the questions raised by this report must be answered. The public must be told what really happened here. Did it really take 90 minutes for an ambulance to come and take more seriously injured passengers away, 40 minutes for the fire service and 31 minutes for the police, or is the council report just wrong? Did the protocols fail in this case – or were there none in place?
Transparency on these issues is very important, and one of the reasons I feel I can serve the people of Cambridgeshire well as Police and Crime Commissioner, is that I have spent so much of my working life in the emergency services as a firefighter. I know the questions to ask, I understand the processes involved, and now as a Councillor and a researcher in Public Services, I know how to listen to and act upon the concerns of those who work in the emergency services and those who simply want them to be the best they can be.
I want to ensure we all enjoy the benefits of a visible, accountable community police service, and I know that I have the experience and skills to help make that possible.