Paul Stainton: Crime chief must be effective

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

I was taught that in order to earn respect you had to lead by example, empowering and inspiring others along the way.

You cannot demand it, you cannot impose it and you certainly cannot buy it; respect is something that appears organically when your deeds have won the trust and admiration of others.

The office of Police and Crime Commissioner was imposed upon us so whoever had won the race to be the first one in Cambridgeshire was batting on a tricky wicket from the start.

But Sir Graham Bright didn’t help himself and frequently walked into the odd bouncer after taking his eye off the ball (to continue the cricket analogy).

Despite much good work behind the scenes he completely failed to connect with the public who saw him as something of a joke figure; a buffoon from an age gone by, shuffling around the county, spending taxpayer’s money and refusing to answer any difficult questions.

This view of an out of touch, comedy character, was one that was even shared by some in his own party; they backed him publicly but in private lampooned his every move. He was labelled, Sir Graham “Not so” Bright by some of his harshest critics.

Whether he was better value for money than what had gone before is still a matter for conjecture but in the court of public opinion he was found guilty of being a huge waste of public cash long before he left office.

The new incumbent, Jason Ablewhite (pictured), the former leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, now faces the mammoth task of resurrecting the image of 
the post in the eyes of the public.

He has to prove that he is more than just a puppet of the Conservative government and that every decision he makes is in the best interests of Cambridgeshire police and the people they are paid to serve.

Things have not started well though for Jason who has already fallen foul of the travelling community due to his “light hearted” comments from a few years ago and his former business dealings have also come under intense scrutiny.

He has apologised for his “banter” but he will need to keep it in check if he is to win over an already sceptical audience, particularly those in Peterborough, who felt almost abandoned by his predecessor.

His decision then to nominate popular Peterborough councillor, Andy Coles (pictured), as his deputy must be applauded.

Andy knows the city inside and out and his thirty years of experience, working with the Metropolitan Police, will certainly come in handy.

Together they have promised to be more visible than the last regime and have already targeted drug dealing in the city as a major issue.

Although the next time they are stood together in Cathedral Square, attempting to be visible, they may want to avoid standing next to a policeman who looked like he couldn’t catch a one-legged sloth, carrying a tray of coffees from Starbucks.

I don’t know about you but I like my police men and women to look like they can walk 500 yards, never mind arrest somebody; maybe police fitness should be looked at too?

Undoubtedly there is much work to do to rebuild the credibility of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office and having interviewed Jason Ablewhite many times, I am sure he will give it his best shot; at least I know he will answer my questions!

To succeed however he will have to be transparent, accountable and above all else, effective. Respect might then be forthcoming.