Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner candidate John Howson

Herald Series: John Howson John Howson

THIS week we profile the candidates for the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner post ahead of this month’s election.

Today we question Liberal Democrat John Howson, 65, from Oxford.

Relevant Experience: I have 22 years as a magistrate in Oxfordshire.

I was also a senior university manager looking after budgets for nine years and have run my own business.

I have served on Oxfordshire County Council’s education committee and lectured at Oxford Brookes University.

I was a teacher in Tottenham where I was the victim of a serious knife attack in 1977.

Why Oxfordshire should vote for me: I would improve detection rates, ensure support for victims is funded properly, protect frontline policing, consult the public about priorities, and listen to young people.

I would also ensure value for money but protect services to the public, ensure the best use of modern technology, and stress the need for police staff to understand they serve the public.

Which crimes in Oxfordshire and Oxford city will you prioritise?

Those crimes where there are victims, and especially vulnerable victims, demand a high priority along with matters of local or national security.

How will you prevent more crime?

An active and engaged citizenship prepared to work with the police is the best prevention mechanism.

How will you solve more crime?

By making detection a strategic priority and charging the Chief Constable to achieve this.

Where in Oxfordshire and Oxford city would you spend more money? The location of public-facing counters is an issue for discussion since the majority of the public use emails or phone calls to contact the police. However, those who don’t use IT and dislike phones need to be able to contact the police easily too.

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Where do you see opportunities for the force to save money in Oxford and Oxfordshire?

Better integration of some services may bring further opportunities to divert funds to frontline services.

How would you ensure budget cuts do not lead to crime rising?

It would be easy to say, by effective deployment of resources.

In practice, some crimes are falling at the present time but others such as cybercrime and domestic abuse are on the increase, in some cases because the public are more willing to report them. So I would say, ensuring resources are spent on deterring crime.

How important is the police’s relationship with the public and how will you develop this?

The PCC will be the point of accountability for the police and anti-crime agenda and will develop a visibility similar to elected mayors.

A PCC who does not listen to concerns of the public will not be re-elected.

Thames Valley is a large area, how will you make sure Oxford is represented? I will hold regular meetings with council groups, neighbourhood action groups and organisations.

I will take space in publications to communicate with the electorate and there will be a website. For those not able to use IT I will investigate a freephone number.

How will we be able to measure your success after your first 100 days?

Through the negotiation of a successful budget.

I will ask the Chief Constable if more can be achieved to improve detection rates and working to prevent young people from setting out on a life of crime.

  • A POLICE and Crime Commissioner will be elected in the Thames Valley for the first time on Thursday, November 15. The £85,000-a-year post’s responsibilities include setting the police force’s budget and priorities. They will also have the power to appoint and dismiss the chief constable.

The winner will start work on November 22. Elections will be held every four years.

Comments (5)

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4:16pm Wed 7 Nov 12

Lord Palmerstone says...

Not voting on this one I'm afraid. First time since I had the franchise, at age 21. Would only make sense if all other officers were elected, as in the US. The police can't serve 2 masters. Mr. Howson is a decent man and I wish him well but only in that I hope he'll be the first and last PCC for TV.

PS-if elected I cannot see how he can remain on the Bench.
Not voting on this one I'm afraid. First time since I had the franchise, at age 21. Would only make sense if all other officers were elected, as in the US. The police can't serve 2 masters. Mr. Howson is a decent man and I wish him well but only in that I hope he'll be the first and last PCC for TV. PS-if elected I cannot see how he can remain on the Bench. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: 2

6:50am Thu 8 Nov 12

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

Personally I wish I could have afforded to stand. I would have done the only sensible thing, hand full control to the Chief Constable, she is the one with the policing experience she knows the ins and outs of how to run the force, not nearly dead magistrates or wanna be politicians.

But then this was always about more jobs for the boys.
Personally I wish I could have afforded to stand. I would have done the only sensible thing, hand full control to the Chief Constable, she is the one with the policing experience she knows the ins and outs of how to run the force, not nearly dead magistrates or wanna be politicians. But then this was always about more jobs for the boys. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: -1

9:32pm Sun 11 Nov 12

mickey-bear says...

Prof Howson will already - like all other judicial office holders standing for election as PCC - have taken leave of absence from the bench, and will (quite properly) under rules he himself reportedly helped redraft (to avoid a threatened judicial review by other candidates after the first version produced by the senior presider came in for very serious criticism), resign as a magistrate if (I'd like to say 'when') elected.
Prof Howson will already - like all other judicial office holders standing for election as PCC - have taken leave of absence from the bench, and will (quite properly) under rules he himself reportedly helped redraft (to avoid a threatened judicial review by other candidates after the first version produced by the senior presider came in for very serious criticism), resign as a magistrate if (I'd like to say 'when') elected. mickey-bear
  • Score: 1

11:05am Mon 12 Nov 12

mike4753 says...

How can we vote on this without information on all candidates.
To date I have had no information through my door and this is the only article that has had any information.
To me this seems to be too big a job for one person and I object to candidates being linked to a political party.
Retain the police authority I say!!! or let the police commissioner run it-after all they are the people with the experience.
How can we vote on this without information on all candidates. To date I have had no information through my door and this is the only article that has had any information. To me this seems to be too big a job for one person and I object to candidates being linked to a political party. Retain the police authority I say!!! or let the police commissioner run it-after all they are the people with the experience. mike4753
  • Score: 0

7:10pm Mon 12 Nov 12

Man on the Green says...

mike4753, did you know that the former police authorities were just as political, if not more so? They were appointed on political lines. The important thing to know is that, like MPs, once elected the PCC will have the rôle of representing the entire public in the Thames Valley force area, and is barred from any political interference with policing and especially from operational policing matters.

Having been a magistrate for many years (in which capacity he rose to be Deputy Chairman of the Magistrates' Association) Prof Howson understands probably better than most the importance of treating everyone "without fear or favour" having sworn an oath to the Queen to that effect. I'd say his national recognition (he was exceptionally made a Vice President of the organisation at the end of his term of office as Deputy Chairman) is pretty good proof that he has lived up to that promise!
mike4753, did you know that the former police authorities were just as political, if not more so? They were appointed on political lines. The important thing to know is that, like MPs, once elected the PCC will have the rôle of representing the entire public in the Thames Valley force area, and is barred from any political interference with policing and especially from operational policing matters. Having been a magistrate for many years (in which capacity he rose to be Deputy Chairman of the Magistrates' Association) Prof Howson understands probably better than most the importance of treating everyone "without fear or favour" having sworn an oath to the Queen to that effect. I'd say his national recognition (he was exceptionally made a Vice President of the organisation at the end of his term of office as Deputy Chairman) is pretty good proof that he has lived up to that promise! Man on the Green
  • Score: 0

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