New Peterborough police chief on protests, traveller encampments, road safety and domestic abuse

The new police and crime commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has pledged to tackle road safety, support domestic abuse survivors and make sure police tackle unauthorised encampments.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 4:55 am

Conservative Darryl Preston has also lent his support behind the controversial new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will give police powers to impose a start and finish time on protests and to set noise limits.

The new chief, who took up his post on Thursday, said: “I’m fully supportive of this legislation - the police have asked for it, many members of the public have asked for it, and there is a lot of good stuff in there which protects the good people of our country.

“Let me be clear, I fully support the right for lawful and peaceful protest. I also support the right for free speech. What I don’t support is when we have significant disruption and law-breaking under the cause of a good banner. That’s not right, because it disrupts our communities.

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Darryl Preston
Darryl Preston

“The legislation is not about stopping protest, it’s about stopping protest where there is serious disruption to our communities.”

Mr Preston has made tackling violent crime and fly-tipping two of his most pressing priorities, but he also highlighted the need to reduce casualties from road collisions as another urgent issue.

“This came up (on the doorsteps) in Peterborough,” he told the Peterborough Telegraph.

“More people die, or are seriously injured, on our roads than any other crime, including knife crime.

“We need to be doing all we can to tackle road safety.

“I will be working really hard with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership working towards a Vision Zero campaign on reducing serious and fatal accidents on our roads. I will also be discussing with the chief constable what enforcement we can do for speeding, as speeding causes the most fatalities and serious injuries and is something I hear time and time again from residents.”

On the issue of traveller encampments, which has been a recurring issue in Peterborough, Mr Preston said: “I’m there to represent all of our communities. If some communities choose to operate outside the law I won’t be supporting that.

“We have new legislation which will make it a criminal offence to put a caravan onto private or public land where it will cause disruption. There are fairly firm provisions in there for police to be able to use to ask people to move on.

“I will expect the police to robustly enforce those laws.”

Another recent piece of legislation is the new Domestic Abuse Bill which contains a number of measures to support survivors.

Mr Preston said he supports the bill and wants to see use of protection notices and more work done to raise awareness among “harder to reach” communities who might not know where to get help.

He added: “I am passionately committed to tackling domestic abuse and supporting survivors.

“I’ve worked in this area, I’ve dealt with many victims, and it’s abhorrent. People should feel safe in their homes.

“Fortunately, there is a lot of very good work underway.

“Firstly for me, we need more police officers to investigate domestic abuse cases. I will be investing significant sums of money into domestic abuse survivor services, including domestic violence advisers who do a great job in supporting survivors and victims getting out of abusive relationships.

“I will introduce electronic tags with GPS tracking devices for perpetrators of domestic abuse and related offences and awareness campaigns and support work with children and young people to change attitudes towards domestic abuse - that’s really important.

“Most importantly for me is listening to victims of domestic abuse. I don’t know all the answers and I don’t think anybody does. But by working together I’m willing to try new ways to reduce this crime.”