New Peterborough crime chief to prioritise violent crime and fly-tipping crackdown
The new police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has promised to make a crackdown on violent crime and fly-tipping his immediate priorities.
Conservative Darryl Preston begins his first day in office on Thursday, and he told the Peterborough Telegraph he will begin by tackling issues which had come up on the doorsteps during the election campaign.
He said: “My campaign was based around one key priority, and the reason for that is it is the priority of the good residents of Peterborough, and indeed the rest of the county.
“I knocked on a lot of doors in Peterborough during the campaign and the same issues came up time and time again. What the residents of Peterborough wanted to see was more visible policing, cutting crime and keeping them safe.
“The things I heard more often were around drugs, knife crime, serious violence, burglary and anti-social behaviour. They are government priorities as well as my priorities locally.
“I will be supporting police to cut all crime, but those crimes in particular.
“I take up office on Thursday. The very first thing I’ll be doing is sitting down with the team looking at my priorities and how we can deliver those, then onto the chief constable and how we can deliver against those priorities, making sure I’m the voice for the people of Peterborough and police are acting on those concerns.”
Mr Preston’s two-pronged approach will focus on prevention and “robust enforcement”, combining tools such as stop and search, early intervention programmes and more police officers on the ground, bolstered by new recruits.
“We’ve got the national uplift in police officers,” he said. “Locally, we’ve seen a significant increase in police numbers - I think the last count was 120 extra police officers. That’s on top of those retiring and leaving the force.
“There’s been a commitment already from the chief constable that the frontline and neighbouring policing teams will be bolstered significantly. I will be holding the chief constable to account to ensure that’s delivered.
“Clearly it will take a little time to get these officers onto the streets, but I will be pushing as hard as I can to get them out there and visible in the communities cutting crime.”
Mr Preston said recent increases in serious violence and knife crime were being seen across the country and were being fuelled by county lines drug gangs.
He is due to lead a multi-agency team which will produce a strategy to reduce violent crime going forward.
“The police cannot arrest their way out of this scourge. It needs a two-pronged approach of prevention and robust law enforcement,” he explained.
“We need a whole system, multi-agency approach.
“The prevention side is absolutely key, particularly early intervention.
“I will certainly be investing in proven programmes and projects that deal with early intervention, getting people out of a life of crime in the first place.”
As for fly-tipping, the former detective in London and Cambridgeshire said it will be “top of his agenda” with a pledge to see what more police can do to assist local authorities with investigations.
He also praised the recent announcement from the Conservatives in Peterborough that they will re-introduce free bulky waste collections.
Mr Preston added: “Fly-tipping is a scourge across the county. There’s too much of this which has been going on in Peterborough.
“This is a concern of local residents.
“It is a crime, and at the most serious end it carries a sentence of a £50,000 fine and lengthy custodial sentences, but more to the point it’s anti-social.
“There is evidence that if you have fly-tipping and litter and rubbish in communities, people start to feel unsafe.
“We do need to tackle this. I’m really pleased about the announcement of free bulky waste collections - hopefully that will have a significant impact - and more enforcement officers.
“I will be working with partners including the council, the Environment Agency, fire and rescue, waste disposal operators, MPs and residents to produce a strategy for prevention and enforcement.
“I’ve already said I will provide funds for covert cameras for local councils. Also, I will be setting aside funds from assets seized from criminals which will support private landowners.
“Quite often we receive large fly-tips on private land. It then becomes the responsibility of the landowner to remove it at their own cost. That doesn’t seem right to me, so we will use money seized from criminals to assist them in that.
“I support a legislative change for stiffer fines (from councils) as that’s currently £400 and clearly that’s not doing the trick. People need to know there are consequences.”