We asked the prospective Police and Crime Commissioner candidates to answer a few probing questions.
This response from Kevin Hurley
Kevin Hurley (Independent) is the current Police & Crime commissioner
1. What are your views of the previous Chief Constable Lynne Owen? Were you justified in the criticism you levied against her? If you disagreed with the Chief Constable would you again demand his/ her resignation if you considered that appropriate? In your opinion is a clash between Chief Constable and PCC inevitable and perhaps even healthy? If you were re-elected how would you ensure a positive, effective and efficient relationship with our Chief Constable?
When I took up this post I became the first PCC in the country to extend a Chief Constable contract. I did this for three years to give her a sense of security and to demonstrate that she had my full confidence.
Over the next two years I gave her excellent annual appraisals and attempted to get the pay scales for the Surrey Chief Constable changed to reflect the additional responsibilities that came from taking over policing of Spelthorne, Epsom, Banstead and Esher and Cobham from the Met Police in 2000.
No one had hitherto seen the post was not paid at the correct national rate for the size of the new force.
About 18 months ago I was becoming increasingly concerned about the poor service being provided to our most vulnerable: Children, Abused and Raped women as well as children being sexually exploited.
By June I was becoming very concerned and decided to probe in detail these areas. In early September I held a formal scrutiny of this performance and many documents and reports.
What I found shocked me, I was appalled. I was particularly dismayed that during this scrutiny the Chief blamed virtually every rank and detective specialism in the force as well as junior civilians for many failings e.g. 96% of unsolved rapes had been graded as poor to abysmal in standards of investigation, only a quarter of children coming to the notice of police had been adequately safeguarded. It was the same story with domestic violence victims.
I found the failings to prevent child sexual exploitation emotionally disturbing to read. I have seen much in my former career as a senior detective. At no time did the Chief accept any personal responsibility for allowing this to happen.
I immediately sought the outside assistance of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and wrote a very firm letter of censure to the Chief Constable. I held her responsible for a catalogue of failings and for creating a blame culture leading to paralysis and poor decision-making.
Over the next few months the force received six reports from HMIC critical of many operational areas of policing. In some Surrey were the worst in the country.
Operational policing is the statutory role of the Chief Constable; a PCC cannot interfere.
I began the process of preparing to require her to resign. My oversight panel who hold me to account are fully aware of all of the circumstances and do not disagree with my approach. However, the Home Secretary in the midst of this appointed the Chief Constable to the post of Director General of the National Crime Agency responsible for serious crime and child exploitation.
I was not asked for a reference and wrote to inform the Home Secretary that the force had got poor reports for managing serious crime and child exploitation.
In doing so I expressed my concerns at the lack of due diligence by the Home Secretary in this appointment.
These matters became public knowledge after Freedom of Information requests by the BBC. It would be improper for me to have made them public and indeed it would have compromised the legal process involved in removing a chief constable.
There was no clash between the Chief and I, on behalf of the Surrey people I was her employer and I held her to account.
There was a very positive relationship with the Chief until I uncovered serious failings, I did not shirk when required to act. I would do so again if I found the next chief culpable of such failings.
At the current time there is an excellent relationship with the Temporary Chief. Things are now already much improved in all these areas of concern. Victims are getting a better service.
If the new chief does their job properly and delivers an efficient and effective police service there will be no problem, if not I will take action.
2. Effingham Residents Association held a Gypsy Traveller seminar earlier this year. This collective ethnic minority group is subject to prejudice from the wider community. Do you consider that some of the police are prejudice against them? And if the answer is yes or maybe, what should the PCC do about it?
I have no evidence that this group is subject to prejudice from Police.
Police are required to act against any offending behaviour.
There are cases of known Travellers involved in serious offending.
That of course does not mean that all Travellers are offenders, but the conduct of some will result in police action, which may have collateral damage to perceptions of those within the Traveller community. I have funded projects designed to improve the education of children and women from a travelling background.
As the PCC I keep a close eye on the relationships with all of the different communities in Surrey. I regularly monitor complaints, but at the same time on behalf of the people of Surrey I expect the police to take action against whoever an offender or group of offenders are.
3. This ethnic minority group fear pedophiles in the non-gypsy community. Statistically what justifications have they for fearing this? And what, through the police, should the PCC be doing to bring about an end to child exploitation? How should the PCC, through Surrey Police, warn kids and parents about the growing risks of grooming and the use of the Internet?
There is no evidence that Surrey is any worse affected by Paedophiles that elsewhere.
We have recently invested nearly £5 million pounds into improving the capability to protect children. i.e. the new Temporary Chief has spent money I had previously allocated to the force that had hitherto not been used.
With regard to online grooming we have already done much. We have set up a knowledge base with what is called Cybersafe, this is an online resource for teachers, parents and those caring for vulnerable adults. Anyone can join it. Regular updates are provided on fraud and grooming techniques used by criminals.
Together with Eagle radio we have surveyed tens of thousands of Surrey youngsters to scope the scale of the threat.
I am personally now working in partnership to support Ms Lorin LaFave , the mother of Breck Bednar who was murdered after being groomed on line. I have ensured that the Breck Bednar foundation has funding and support to work with us to deliver training to every child in the county about the risk of being online.
We want them to enjoy using the Internet safely and broaden their learning.
Surrey Police are also carrying out an awareness campaign and of course my office funds and pushes “junior citizens ” training with any school or council that will deliver it with our help.
4. Now that there has been an increase in Council Tax to fund Surrey Police are you confident that you will not require more funding over the next term of office?On the other hand, if you do intend to seek further funding – how much do you consider Surrey Police need and why?
The slight increase of 2% was precisely what the Chancellor asked all PCCs to introduce to mitigate against the scale of policing cuts so far and the impact of inflation with increasing policing demands. I led the national campaign to stop further cuts on Sky, BBC and ITV; the cuts have been all but stopped.
Surrey Police remain inadequately funded to meet demand, train staff adequately and recruit and retain them. I have also led the campaign to change how Surrey Police is funded. We get the worst deal in the country from Government. I will not remain silent; I will continue to fight for more from Govt in keeping with the tax we all pay, its quite wrong and unfair to the Surrey people. I will use my media profile to pressurise the Govt and some of our MPs to get on with it.
There has been a huge increase in people willing to report rape, historic abuse and domestic violence. Cyber fraud and online grooming is accelerating and is also a big new demand. Terrorism has never been more threatening, we need to pay for another 30 firearms officers for this alone. That costs more than our 2% alone just for better firearms cover. Never mind the rest.
We are often close to overwhelmed in the North of the County when our officers are forced to find and detain large numbers of illegal migrants jumping out of lorries. It denudes half the county patrol and custody assets on occasion. I will continue to expose the failing by the Home Secretary to implement a properly resourced Border Force.
With regard to what I have done, this attachment covers some of it in 200 words.
5. Reviewing your past term of office, what are you happiest about and what were you least happy about?
I should have found out the failings to protect vulnerable victims earlier and removed the Chief Constable for failing to deliver an operationally effective and efficient force.
However, I am content that we are now well set for the future. Surrey Police are getting their heads up
We are now able to fund slightly more police officers than when I started. This has been achieved by collaboration with both surrounding forces and the Fire Service to deliver back office support and purchase equipment. Moreover, our introduction of handheld computers to all our officers keeps them on the street by slashing the time spent on bureaucratic form filling.
6. Why should we elect you to do this – what have you got to offer?
There have been a host of improvements across the force and in partnership working to keep us safer, as in the attached document.
The public has a very visible and available representative for their safety. I attend public meetings almost everyday across the county and am easily contactable on line, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram etc. if you are young you will know about these! Otherwise just phone my office.
We can now fund more officers than before I started, despite the cuts we are more efficient and effective.
I don’t “walk into the corridors of Whitehall and get a fair hearing” and get ignored like our County Council has been in terms of grant settlement from Government. BUT because I am not in the big party I go on the TV, Radio, write in the national press and make the Government feel uncomfortable; that’s why they listened last time and stopped Police cuts. I know what is said to me to shut me up.
If I am elected Government will either pay attention to our unfair Police grant here in Surrey or they will see me on the national media every week talking about it. I intend to be even more vociferous than before.
Surrey will be safer I will not give up.
Years of working in the most challenging areas of Policing and as a reservist Paratrooper Officer make me pretty resilient and tenacious.