Nick Alston, Conservative Candidate for Police Commissioner says its officers on the street not buildings that count
Nick Alston the Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner has promised to prioritise keeping police on the streets in the community and protecting their capability to respond to any emergency when tackling budget savings if elected in November.
Commenting on the possible sale of some of the smaller police stations in Essex Nick said:
“Everyone is feeling the pinch of dealing with the national budget deficit and whether we like it or not the new Police Commissioner will have to make some tough choices to achieve the necessary savings and ensure a balanced policing budget for the future.
I know that some police officers are concerned about the closure of some of the smaller stations across our county to help meet these savings. But as an Essex resident born and bred I know that what reassures residents the most is having officers out on the streets being a visible presence in local neighbourhoods, who are able respond to incidents quickly. I think it is right to consider closing some of the smaller stations if it means saving money that can be spent keeping more police on the streets and keeping them properly equipped to fight crime.”
Commenting on the future of the Essex Police Mounted Unit Nick said:
"I think the Chief Constable would be making a brave decision to disband the Police Mounted Section and redeploy the officers. Mounted policedefinitely have their uses and it would be a shame to see them go, but the Chief Constable would have my full support if he chose to do so in the face of mandatory savings requirements. I have had it said to me that more than seeing an officer in a police car, seeing an officer mounted on a police horse makes people feel safe. For some people I have no doubt that might be true. But when it comes to prioritising resources we need to strike the right balance between what makes people feel safe, and what actually keeps them safe. Officers in police cars can still perform high visibility work and they are able to respond to more situations and emergencies, often cover more ground on patrol, and arrest and detain suspects more easily than officers on horseback."
Commenting on the debate on the policing budget in the election so far Nick said:
"I think it is irresponsible to call the debate about the budget future of our police force, or indeed any aspect of it “a political football”. When elected the police commissioner is going to have to make decisions on the budget that will affect everyone in Essex. I think the people of Essex want someone who will consider every possible option if there is a chance it would prevent losing officers in their neighbourhood and ensure that our police force can respond effectively to any emergency.
The debate about how savings can be made on the police budget should quite rightly be one of the central issues in this election and it has to be taken seriously. Declaring issues ‘political footballs’ and arguing about who to blame for the necessary budget reductions might look good in newspapers, but it doesn’t add to a constructive debate on how to ensure a balanced budget and how best to keep the residents of Essex as safe as possible."