Security expert focused on crime prevention if elected as Peterborough’s new chief

For all the talk of police numbers over the past few years, getting more bobbies on the beat is not the focus for the man hoping to become the first Liberal Democrat police and crime commissioner in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

By Joel Lamy
Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 4:53 am

Instead, the attention of Rupert Moss-Eccardt is towards mental health and restorative justice which he believes are more effective in bringing crime rates down than putting more officers on the streets.

“If I win - when I win - there will be a clear focus on crime prevention, because from that all else flows,” the security expert for BT told the Peterborough Telegraph.

“It’s very well for people to focus on arrest waits and victim support, which is incredibly important, but until you reduce the crime rates all the rest of it is just a sticking plaster.”

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Rupert Moss-Eccardt

Formerly a councillor in Cambridge who has stood for Parliament on several occasions, the dad of two provides cyber security advice and guidance for public services and has previously visited police cells to make sure people are being held correctly, giving him insight from both a crime and political perspective.

And when it comes to bringing crime rates down, Mr Moss-Eccardt is adamant that being “tough” is more about schemes which lack a strong soundbite than promising a large presence of uniformed officers.

“Some things for crime reduction, to the untrained eye, don’t look very tough,” he said.

“There are schemes that work really well that divert people away from crime, but they look to some people as being a bit soft on crime, which is not what we mean. We mean tough on crime, but also giving people a choice to not commit the crime in the first place.

“PCCs in the UK are doing these sorts of things, but Cambridgeshire hasn’t quite caught up. A good example is mental health - the previous PCC has done some work on this, but not enough.

“Many people who are arrested have a mental health issue, either long term or there and then, and it’s better to treat them in the whole of their person, rather than just the criminal aspects.

“And if you fix their problems they tend to stop becoming criminals - so (you need) better mental health care, better public health support to reduce re-offending.”

He added: “Research shows having a very visible police presence in the public realm does have an impact on crime, but not a lot compared to using some of that resource to investigate crime, bring criminals to justice and also, where appropriate, help with offender management in its broader sense.

“The force in Cambridgeshire have an offender management scheme, but it’s poorly resourced, and with a bit of effort and a bit more resource into that we could probably reduce crime.”

One of Mr Moss-Eccardt’s themes during the interview is “policing by the people for the people”.

He said: “We need to get to the point where people don’t see the police as other to the public. Them and us doesn’t help anyone.”

To make that a reality he wants to understand why crime rates are much higher in Peterborough than neighbouring areas, while also allowing local areas to decide what their policing priorities are outside of major crime.

“There’s not an unusually high volume giving the size and shape of Peterborough, but it is a remarkable step up from even Fenland into Peterborough with the crime rate,” Mr Moss-Eccardt, who lives just outside Ely, said.

“Understanding why that is and dealing with it is the best thing for Peterborough.

“We have some ideas, but I need to get more detailed data which I don’t have access to.

“What we need to do, and to be frank I’ve not done that yet, is tie the policing data with the British Crime Survey data and do some further analysis to work out if it’s just a reporting anomaly - (but) I don’t think that’s the case.”

Major policing priorities will always be violent crime and domestic abuse, but “for the local stuff I want to have local representatives making those priority decisions.

“There is no reason at all we shouldn’t let those local representatives - councillors - tell their local neighbourhood policing team what they would like them to do.

“In Cambridge city I imagine cycle theft they’d be very keen on, but that wouldn’t be something that people in East Cambridgeshire want to be a priority.

“Setting priority areas across the whole force area would be counter-productive, so let the local people see their priorities be set in public by the people who represent them.”

Mr Moss-Eccardt is an avid Formula 1 fan, but there is no going around in circles when it comes to why he thinks people should vote for him in May.

“I know how to reduce crime and I know how to do it in a way which is liberal and effective,” he summarised.