Adam Simmonds Interview

To coincide with the third anniversary of being voted in to Office, Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds sat down and spoke to about his three years in the job, and what’s to come from his final six months in position.

To view the PCC’s Delivery Report 2015 – released today – click here.

Q: Why did you decide to stand for the position?

AS: “Because I saw the job as being a massive opportunity to make a difference in my local community, a community that I had been part of for 15 years, and I could see that we could make lives better.”

Q: Have you achieved those aims to make peoples live better?

AS: “I think we have gone a long way down the track of making a difference, in terms of the new victims and witness service (Voice), in terms of the Institute for Public Safety Crime and Justice, in terms of the emerging police and fire collaborations, keeping frontline police numbers as they were, seeing crime fall and victims being more and more confident in reporting crimes.”

“But the justice system is still broken, and there is still a lot of work to be done. I think the system is too separated and that doesn’t work for people of the community. The police still work separately to the courts service, the court service work separately to the Crown Prosecution Service, people fall down the cracks, agencies pass people off between one another and it is not as integrated as it should be. There is masses of duplication, and I don’t think the public always get good value across the whole system. But I know the police do work incredibly hard. However I think the whole system needs rebooting.”

Q: If you still believe there is work to be done, why have you decided to stand down in May?

AS: “I’ve crammed in to this term more work and activity than I thought possible, activity that I thought would be spread across two or three terms. I think I’ve laid a firm foundation but we have so many challenges and decisions to take, I think the public hearing a different voice and seeing a difference face over the next four years will be more helpful. I think the public need someone who has got the energy for the next four years, to take this to the next level. And I don’t believe I am that person.”

Q: Has the role been tougher than you imagined it would be?

AS: “I think the job is bigger than I thought it would be. It has required more of me than I thought. It has not been harder than I thought or more controversial than I thought. You have to accept you are in a public role, there are expectations for you to deliver for lots of people. I think I’ve done well with that but for another four years it needs a new lease of life and new energy.”

Q: If you were to go back to day one and anticipate where you’d be in terms of progress at this point, are you in front or behind what you anticipated?

AS: “I think I’m ahead by quite some way. We’ve done more than I thought possible. When you list everything out that’s been achieved, it’s quite a list and it’s all been people focused. All our work has been about more investment, creating new and better services and organisations.

“We’ve protected the number of frontline police officers, all council tax precept increases have been ring-fenced to supporting victims of crime. We’ve appointed a new chief constable and team, created Voice to support victims, created the Institute for Public Safety Crime and Justice to focus on building evidence of what works in order to be more effective. We’ve brought police and fire services closer together to increase efficiency, created a drugs squad to reduce crime, created a partnership with councils that keeps victims of domestic violence in their own home and the perpetrators on the outside, progressed alcohol tagging, reformed police Stop and Search powers, created the Office for Faith Based and Community Initiatives which has supported 20+ projects…the list can go on. I never believed so much could be done in this term and it’s not over yet.”

Q: What has been the highlight of the past three years?

AS: “That’s a tough question! I think it’s been the people I’ve met while doing the job – I’ve heard some amazing stories of people overcoming serious troubles in their lives, from violent partners to addictions to children managing to save their families from breakdown.

“But I think the highlight has come very recently in the form of Jacquie Ward. She lives in Daventry on the Grange Estate, and she has through her own force of personality and commitment to her community changed people and the place. Beginning with simply deciding to pick up litter in her nearby streets she has, over two years, created a community that picks up litter and puts litter in the bin. She has rejuvenated the community centre, pub, held community events, cleaned graffiti off walls and much more.

“When I walked with her around her community, watching her saying hello to her neighbours, picking up litter with her ‘picker’ and bin bag, walking at quite a pace she suddenly gets out a can of orange spray paint and sprays dog poo bright orange. At that point if it wasn’t clear to me already, I knew this determined, passionate woman was someone special and I wished I could bottle her spirit and replicate what she has right across our county. She’s become my highlight.”

Q: Any lowlights?

AS: “Meeting people who have been failed by the justice system. Meeting a woman who was the victim of a serious sexual assault who was still waiting for a date for a court trial 18 months on from being a victim.

“That, and my failure to find the appropriate strategy to see a dramatic reduction in violence. Northamptonshire is too violent and we need more people and organisations playing their part in what is a battle for people’s very lives. It’s a real concern to me and my ambition to see at least a 40% reduction in violent crime remains and to ever lower that target would be a betrayal of what we should be doing.”

Q: What’s to come in the final part of your term?

AS: “The final six months will see a lot of activity. This week I’m publishing a document called Policing our Future, and also a discussion document on a new strategy for taking a generation out of crime called ‘Safest Generation’.

“We will soon be publishing our report, TEENS, which is looking at teenagers and their intimate relationships. Next year we’ll be publishing the results of Duwayne Brooks’ review of our Stop and Search reforms. A new organisation will be launched in March through the Institute of Public Safety Crime and Justice. We’re launch of a further service through Voice called Voice:RoadHarm which will care and support the victims of road traffic collisions and their families. I am also excited about the current search for an organisation to provide specific services to children and young people who are victims of crime. Voice for Children and Young People is coming soon! And of course I’m excited to see if we can get to our target of 900 Special Constables by May.

“There’s more too! I’ll be giving everything to the job until the minute someone else is voted in.”