Police commissioner quizzed

Tivyside Advertiser: Police and crime commissioner Christopher Salmon at the Tivy-Side offices with Cardigan mayor Cllr Graham Evans, county councillors Haydn Lewis, Catrin Miles and John Adams-Lewis plus Jamie Subbiani of Red Kite Solicitors. Police and crime commissioner Christopher Salmon at the Tivy-Side offices with Cardigan mayor Cllr Graham Evans, county councillors Haydn Lewis, Catrin Miles and John Adams-Lewis plus Jamie Subbiani of Red Kite Solicitors.

'Bobbies not bricks' - that was the message from Dyfed Powys police commissioner Christopher Salmon when he was put on the spot with a question and answer session at the Tivy-Side offices this week.

Calls from local residents to see more police officers on the beat were backed by the commissioner - but he was less in favour of a police office being re-opened in Cardigan town centre.

"I don't want to spend money on buildings, I want to spend money on police officers," he said. "We want bobbies not bricks."

He also questioned the need for expensive CCTV cameras but backed police officers cracking down on speeding motorists in a wide ranging discussion on policing needs and methods in Dyfed Powys.

"We are a low crime area but saying that a third of crime is not reported," he said. He listed drugs, anti-social behaviour and theft and burglaries as the most pressing crime concerns in the area. He also said more effort was being made to combat domestic violence.

Questions included:

Q: Many years ago a scheme was introduced called walk and talk where an officer would park the car and walk through areas and chat to locals. The scheme has been withdrawn. Only when there is a problem do we see the police. Can a policy for visiting outlying areas be made more permanent?

A: I agree. The best way to find out what the public needs is to get out there meeting them. Of course it goes both ways, if you see a police officer on the beat introduce yourself and let them know what's going on.

Q: I see the Commissioner spent a day in St David's recently talking to local people. When is he coming to Caridgan?

A. We are scheduled to come on November 25. I shall be talking to local groups plus the town council. If any local groups would like to meet up with me then get in touch with my office.

Q: Will your re-open a town centre presence for the police in Cardigan? The new station is three quarters of a mile outside of town and difficult for elderly people to get to.

A: I don't want to spend money on buildings I want to spend money on police officers, bobbies not bricks. It is up to local officers how they make themselves available to local people - perhaps by meeting in a local cafe, a cuppa with a copper, or the town library.

Q: I was amazed to see that of the 37 crimes reported in Cardigan in March almost half of them were for anti-social behaviour. When are you going to get a handle on this?

A: We are getting a grip on anti social behaviour. I have funded 30 more police officers in Dyfed Powys and there is increased spending to deal with anti social behaviour. PCSOs especially do a good job in dealing with it at a grassroots level.

Q: Do police target motorists to make money?

A: If motorists are breaking the law by speeding or other offences I will back officers who stop them. However I have stressed to officers that motorist fines are not an income generation scheme. Fines go towards road safety schemes but I am considering asking the public whether they think the money should go back into the general tax pot.

Q: Cardigan court closed several years ago and now cases are held in Aberystwyth and sometimesgo unreported. Shouldn't justice be seen to be done?

A: I absolutely agree. I would have been very much against Cardigan courthouse closing. Justice needs to be swift, sure and transparent. There is a growing distance in rural areas with the justice process and I know that my PCC colleagues are asking what we can do. We've got quite good at local policing but local justice doesn't seem to be happening.

Q: Will you fund CCTV cameras in our local towns?

A: The police have never funded CCTV cameras but what I have said is that there is a potential to support CCTV cameras. What we need is an impartial review and then make sensible decisions. How many officers do I have to forgo simply to have cameras?

Q: Do you think there will be more interest in the next police commissioner elections in 2016?

A: Yes I do. I think the role of a PCC has made a difference and it is an unusual position in that you are a directly elected executive and can make quick decisions. If you don't do what the public want they have an opportunity to get rid of you.

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