Andy Dunbobbin – Welsh Labour – North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Election 2021
North.Wales / Wrexham.com and Deeside.com have invited all candidates to take part in a Q&A – below you can read the answers from this candidate unedited:
1 Who are you and what relevant skills do you have for this role?
I am Andy Dunbobbin. I’ve lived, studied and worked in North Wales my whole life. It’s my home as well as it yours. I have family and friends across the breadth of North Wales. I have family as far west as Penisa’r Waun right over to Wrexham – and places in between. I am related to the former coroner for North Wales – my Uncle John (Hughes). He was one of my many influencers in getting involved in public life. I am extremely proud of my North Walian roots.
I am a proactive County Councillor and have held the non-political role of Armed Forces Champion since 2015. I have used my vast experience to lead and achieve the Gold award of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS). An achievement coincidentally made before North Wales Police (by around 12 months approx.). I have solid knowledge and experience within Local Government, third sector and other public services – vital attributes needed as a Police Crime Commissioner.
I have a strong network across many public and third sector services. I work constructively with others across the six Local Authorities of North Wales, along with other voluntary/community groups. I have helped deliver in making our Armed Forces community of North Wales as an inspiration for others to follow. I am immensely proud of being elected as North Wales Armed Forces Strategic Group Vice-chair by my cross-party and other peers.
I have also worked as a Social Innovation Outreach Worker and a Senior Technical Team Leader. My strongest strengths are engagement, listening, strategizing and being innovative. This has played a huge part in my successes to date.
My deeply embedded partnership approach has always paid dividends for all parts of our community so that we all benefit. I am also an ambassador for the White Ribbon campaign.
2 Candidates stand giving their plan for policing, but where, and with which communities across North Wales have you consulted with to find out their needs and opinions to form up your plans?
I have had several conversations and interactions from those who have engaged with me since declaring my candidacy last year – which I am grateful for. They have told me, and I have listened to what their concerns are. I am very enthusiast about engagement. I enjoy listening to people, hearing their views and taking positive action. I am confident that I have been able to cover all topics but always happy to discuss anything else that people would like answers to.
3 What will you do to improve transparency of the PCC’s role and work, and inform and update the public on your performance?
Transparency and engagement are vital in earning peoples’ trust. I always engage positively and want to improve our communities and peoples’ lives. I would want to champion and celebrate the great work of our police officers and staff that keep the people of North Wales safe; to hold regular public meetings with the Chief Constable to account for the performance of the police, scrutinise strategic decisions being made and discuss key issues affecting police response. I would engage fully with all elected members, regardless of political persuasions. I am highly active on social media platforms and engage positively.
4 What is the main thing you would change in the current police and crime plan, and why?
I already sit on North Wales Police and Crime Panel and I am content, at this moment, with what has been agreed.
5 What is your plan to prevent young people becoming involved in crime?
Prevention is always better than cure. I am very much aware of the impact of adverse childhood experiences have on our young people. Having been a kinship carer and a former member of the North Wales Adoption Service panel, I have that personal and professional knowledge of what works. We know that young people can be increasingly vulnerable to crime and that putting young people on the right path is vital to ensuring they live safe and productive lives.
I would want to work with local authorities and police; maximise resources to safeguard young people and deter them from criminal activity, whether that be through youth engagement, counselling or skills development. I would also like to see the return of school police officers who work closely with staff, parents and pupils to address areas of concern and identify vulnerable children and young people.
I want to work with other third sector and community groups that are engaged with our young people. Providing as much support as I possibly can to all these brilliant groups is a real positive step.
6 Other than drugs, what are the most problematic crimes in North Wales, what are you planning on doing about it, and how will you work with law enforcement to tackle it?
What immediately comes to my mind is modern day slavery and rural crime. Hidden crime.
Every year, thousands of men, women and children are forced into slavery. This crime very often goes hidden behind closed doors and we don’t even realise it’s happening on our doorstep. But it is.
The Welsh Labour Government have developed the Code of Practice on Ethical Employment in Supply Chains to clamp down on this exploitation of people. I will work with communities in North Wales to highlight the prevalence of modern slavery and engage all agencies to make it a priority.
I would want to develop a training programme for private and public sector organisations to better monitor and improve their response to modern slavery. I would ensure a joined-up approach via the North Wales Safeguarding Board – looking at how we identify victims of slavery quickly and build up the intelligence to prosecute those responsible. We must also have to work with other PCCs and the Anti -Slavery
Commissioner to introduce legislation that will improve access to support for victims and target traffickers.
I would also want to prioritise rural crime as a strategic objective; work together with the National Farmers Union and others to ensure effective policing. I want to explore, with partners, the potential of funding further research into farm and rural crime, and how this may be linked to organised criminal networks.
7 How will you hold law enforcement accountable, and how will you measure it?
I would measure this by having bench marking figures, targets to achieve and what is achieved. I would want to produce an annual report that is publicly available. This should be easy for everybody to understand.
8 Do you have a view on the current police precept level, and what you would intend to do?
With reference to the Police Commissioner – the Council Tax element is to deliver the North Wales Police regional operational plan and as a direct result of U.K. Government providing around 50% of the funding required to deliver policing across North Wales. There is an increase this year of 0.25% in Council Tax when compared to last year. This increase is as a direct result of U.K. Government top slicing of the block grant to pay for their National programme of ESN (the emergency services new communications platform), which is already £1.2bn over budget, as of February 2021, and rising at cost of over a £1m per day as the current Airwave system is out of contract.
North Wales Police and Crime Panel, of which I am a member, have written to the Home Office regarding this ESN programme that is not fit for purpose and have raised numerous governance, financial risk and conflict of interest concerns. The NW Police and Crime Panel are also leading on this nationally and have the full support of the National Bodies, with the ESN Programme now going before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.
I fully support what the panel have actioned. I acknowledge the need to improve communications etc. and investment needed but the amount over budget concerns me. How future proof is this and will it be good value for money?
We are also unsure of the costs the coronavirus has brought. We must give serious consideration to this potential increase or decrease of spend. If it impacts more positively on the budget, I will want to speak to the Chief and Section 151 Officer. I would like to see what provision can be made to all officers and staff in recognition of their efforts during this most difficult of times.
9 What scope do you think the “and crime” element of the role provides? What influence do you expect to exert on justice policy beyond policing, with prisons, probation and the courts for example.
The criminal justice system is failing the very people it is supposed to help. Criminal justice cuts, coupled with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, has meant victims are waiting years to unlock justice. Victims are denied the support they need as they navigate a complicated justice process and defendants are left in limbo spending years waiting for trial. If we want to reduce re-offending, we need to better understand offenders and their motivations, address the underlying causes and stop repeat offences. While PCCs do not currently have oversight of the criminal justice agencies, I am committed to working with them to improve the criminal justice system in North Wales so it works fairly and effectively. I would want to work with the North Wales Criminal Justice Board to improve local arrangements so that we prioritise victims and effectively reduce reoffending. I believe we need to expand access to restorative justice programmes that will encourage offenders to think about the impact of their actions and encourage rehabilitation.
Ensuring victims of crime get the support they need to recover from the trauma of the crime committed against them is vital. I am committed to securing sustainable funding for victims’ services, so no-one is left without support. The pandemic has shown us just how important well-funded domestic and sexual abuse services are to our communities. We saw just how important these services are during the Coronavirus crisis, with some services seeing more than double the numbers of victims contacting them; but they have long been vital in providing support for victims.
For example, I would want to expand access to restorative justice programmes to empower victims and survivors and support their recovery.
10 You say anyone who drives in North Wales will know dangerous or careless driving will not be tolerated. Do you think police ‘tolerate’ it now, and in a practical sense, what will you do to meet that pledge?
Just to be clear, I don’t think the police tolerate it now. What concerns me and many others are that too many people are dying or being seriously injured on our streets. Tackling road safety needs enforcement, education and awareness raising for all road users, as well as proper road design that encourages safety on the roads.
The Welsh Labour Government is making a record £75m investment in Active Travel next year.
I will work with Welsh Government and local authorities to ensure that funding is used effectively in North Wales. I would want to support enforcement for dangerous driving and regional awareness campaigns. We must ensure that road safety remains a priority across the region, and that any regeneration projects consider the need to keep all road users safe. This could include the further development of cycle routes across North Wales.
I am also proud to be the only North Wales PCC candidate who has agreed to fulfil Action Vision Zero’s PCC manifesto asks. Please visit their website here https://actionvisionzero.org/police-crime-commissioner-elections-may-2021/
11 Your website talks about a “community oriented police service” approach with the acronym “COPS”. Is there any detail to that, or is it a pun?
It is not a pun. It is there so people can remember it easier. I have made it clear on my video, I’ve used Community Oriented Police Service (COPS) to form part of my pledges. Some pledges have been mentioned in these questions. I am incredibly grateful that I’ve had this platform for people to dive in a bit further. If people are wanting more information, I will be launching my manifesto this week. This will also be available for download.
How I see COPS is that we should be making as much use out of facilities and services that are already in place. E.g. publicly accessible buildings. Best example I can give is how North Wales Police use Flintshire County Councils Connects building in Flint. I believe similar things like this can be delivered across North Wales. Improving in positive engagement and bringing the Police further into our communities together is a vital part of the PCC role. If elected, I would want to accessible so if people did have any questions or concerns, I would be there on their doorstep to help.
12 Labour has had a PCC in South Wales, what achievement has been delivered that would not have been delivered by another party or independent candidate?
Alun Michael’s achievement of delivering £500 million of social and economic benefit by working with partners to innovate, intervene early, prevent crime and address demand from mental health and well-being is very inspiring. A truly remarkable achievement, no matter what your politics are.
13 Have you ever committed a crime? What happened?
14 Do we currently have any laws you disagree with that you do, or would be prepared to, break?
I am a law-abiding citizen. I would never break the law. I am against the recent Police Bill because I believe that everybody has the right to peacefully protest – it forms part of our democracy. I am prepared to stand up and do everything within my power to tackle any social injustices, but always within the bounds of the law.
15 Have you ever taken recreational drugs, and do you think we should treat recreational drug addiction as a criminal or a health problem?
The only recreational drugs I’ve taken is alcohol and nicotine! I’ve quit smoking and I’m not much of a drinker either.
Joking aside, I don’t want drugs on our streets. I don’t want people in our communities to feel intimidated, fearful of what might be round the corner. I don’t want us worrying about going to the park as a family, just in case there’s evidence of drug use visible to our children, or a deal taking place. I don’t want people to feel apprehensive about walking the dog, going for a run, out on their bike, getting their shopping. I don’t want the elderly to feel scared in their own homes as they see dozens of strangers flitting in and out of neighbouring houses, or increased police patrols. And they know it’s drug related. We know. Something has got to change.
The scenarios I’ve outlined tend to be displayed from those who have a hard drug addiction and not from those who use drugs recreationally. I am generally supportive of the recommendations that came from the Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform. The evidence suggests that this would also reduce crime, reduce the number of victims of crime, save lives and keep us all more safe and secure.
I want us all to be safe – no matter your background or where you live.
16 The previous PCC appeared unique in the UK to outsource PR, paying a large five figure contract a year. Will you continue that, and are there any other areas of expenditure in the Office of the PCC that you will review?
I have been publicly critical of the outsourcing of PR. The role of PCC is not one of self-promotion. It is a role where the PCC is accountable to the public and one which I take very seriously. I would review the costs incurred by the outsourced PR and – if I am in position to end the contract without increasing any costs – I will. I would treat all media outlets the same and not disadvantage anybody. I am very aware of the democratic deficit that exists in our society and unnecessary costs met by public money.
17 At the time of writing where has the top three sources of funding for your campaign come from, and are there any funding sources you feel would be relevant to voters to know about?
This information will be published by my agent shortly after the election.
18 In a few lines to wrap this up, why are you the best candidate compared to your competitors?
As a well experienced local Councillor, an Armed Forces Champion and a Social Innovation Outreach Worker, I have an innovative approach in how to deliver Local Government services. I have led and delivered for our Armed Forces communities which is recognised nationally I believe that I am the best equipped candidate to deliver a better police and crime service for you, your families and our communities.
I have experienced more things than most in my life, both personally and professionally. That makes me the ideal candidate for the role of PCC. I am approachable, assertive and responsible. I am determined in tackling inequality head on so that we all benefit. I pride myself on being innovative and never shy away from challenge; I embrace it. I would be honoured if was elected to be your Police and Crime Commissioner.