Liverpool Councillor Kris Brown has been chosen by Liberal Democrat members in Merseyside to be their candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner on 7th May.
Launching his campaign at the Royal Clifton Hotel in Southport, Kris said that this election is a chance to show that the Liberal Democrats have the most radical approach to crime and justice.
Speaking to party members at the North West Liberal Democrat conference, Kris said:
"I’m very pleased to be officially launching my campaign here today to be the next Police and Crime Commissioner for this region.
Merseyside is a region steeped in Police history.
It’s the birthplace of Edith Smith, Britain’s first female police officer, born in Oxton in Birkenhead.
In my own ward of Woolton, in Liverpool, where I represent as a councillor, I was pleased to attend the unveiling of a blue plaque recognising Edgar Menzies, who created the first police two-way radio.
Merseyside is a region steeped in history and culture. It’s a collection of lots of different towns and communities, each with their own identity but also with their own social and economic challenges.
Last year, in Liverpool alone, there were over 2,000 knife related incidents.
That included five deaths and sixteen counts of rape involving knives.
Knife crime is often something portrayed as an issue that only affects London, but here in the North West, we are approaching breaking point.
So what’s the solution?
Well, the government has announced recruitment of 20,000 new police officers. Something I think should be welcomed – especially as it was in our manifesto.
But to tackle the knife and violent crime problem, particularly amongst young people, it can’t just be about what makes headlines.
It must be based on the evidence of what works.
We’ve got to accept that to really get to the grips of criminal behaviour we’ve got to be tough on the causes of crime far more than being reactive.
The simple approach is just to link serious crime with drugs and poverty.
There are clear linkages here and these are undeniable.
However, most people who live in poverty are not criminals at all.
The life that too many people in our communities’ face is a grim hand to mouth existence in which there is very little sunshine and very little opportunity.
Such conditions provide the breeding ground in which people can move from despair to crime and from minor crime to major crime.
Youth violence breeds on this but there are many more factors in play than money.
Chief of these appear to be a lack of self esteem linked with a lack of clear family identity.
For many of these people there is now little hope.
Most of them are too old to change and have been caught up in a spiral of violence which can only be addressed by appropriate action by the Police and within the judicial system.
That leaves us needing practical solutions to stop the movement of young people through the system into a criminal lifestyle.
This must be done by concentrating on all those who are disadvantaged but with a special emphasis on those who are most likely, because of their background, to move up the escalator into big crime.
We need to make sure that the homes and neighbourhoods they live in are clean, safe and well managed.
We need to expand youth services for children and young people.
We need to be much more supportive of the work of teachers.
Both of which have suffered under the brutality of a Tory government.
And we need to invest in children’s mental health services so that problems can be identified and dealt with early in a child’s life before they become ingrained.
As well as a public health approach we can enhance preventive work in Merseyside through joined up working with other public services. Police commissioners should be taking a key role in leading on this and it’s something I’ll do if elected.
As commissioner I’ll promote a community restorative justice programme to target those at risk of offending.
And I’ll expand the use of peer group influence on those at risk of offending.
I’ll boost community confidence in police by ensuring officers stay rooted in their local area, rather than moving out of it as their career advances.
I’ll facilitate an evidence based conversation around drugs reform and reform how police resources are used in this area – in particular relation to the use of cannabis.
I will work with organisations such as the National Black Police Association to increase ethnic diversity and BAME participation in the police to help reach out and relate to minority communities.
And let me be absolutely clear…
Our fight against crime must not come at the expense of our civil liberties, which is why, as Police Commissioner, I won’t allow the use of facial recognition cameras like that in London. There’s no real evidence of its effectiveness or value for money.
Conference, underlying all of this is a lack of confidence and accountability in the system.
The role of Police Commissioner has failed to grip the imagination and confidence of those it seeks to represent. Often looking removed from local communities.
Let’s be honest, with no disrespect to the incumbent, if I stepped outside this hotel and asked people who their Police Commissioner is they probably wouldn’t know or may not even know we had an elected PCC.
So, from day one of being elected, til the day I leave office I’ll lobby government to abolish the role of elected Police Commissioner. Doing so could save at least £800,000 a year to be spent on front line policing.
So to conclude, this might not be as exciting or engaging as a general election but it’s important that the Liberal Democrats are in the debate.
It’s a chance to show that the Liberal Democrats have the most radical approach to crime and justice.
Thank you, now lets get out there and win some votes."