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Lack of money labelled ‘just an excuse’ by Sir Robin Wales, Labour candidate for police leader role





The Labour Party’s candidate for the police leader role has labelled lack of money for policing as ‘just an excuse’.

Sir Robin Wales, the former directly-elected Mayor of Newham of 16 years, is standing as the Labour Party’s candidate at the upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections on Thursday, May 2.

He said police work in Suffolk needed a thorough reform.

Sir Robin Wales, the Labour Party’s candidate for the police leader role, has labelled lack of money for policing as ‘just an excuse’. Picture: Ipswich Labour
Sir Robin Wales, the Labour Party’s candidate for the police leader role, has labelled lack of money for policing as ‘just an excuse’. Picture: Ipswich Labour

Sir Robin added: “The whole idea is that we can’t do things for people but we can help them do things for themselves — I think we can transform policing in Suffolk.”

The role was first introduced in 2012 and was meant to be the voice of residents within the police as well as ensure the force is both effective and efficient.

In Suffolk, Tim Passmore, who represents the Conservatives, is one of few to have retained the role since its inception, coming out on top in three election cycles.

But Sir Robin thinks the incumbent’s past 11 and a half years in the role have not resulted in crime being properly dealt with.

He doesn’t recognise, for instance, although Suffolk is the fourth lowest funded force in the country that the county has a resources problem.

Sir Robin said: “That’s just an excuse — what happens is people who don’t know how to drive and improve performance and get more for their money use that as an excuse.

“The lazy way we do public service in this country is to say we need more money.”

He also criticised staff retention rates which he believes are leading to Suffolk losing out on experienced officers despite the force currently employing the highest number of officers in its history.

Sir Robin added: “If you have people leave the force, you lose experience and you end up with people who aren’t experienced.”

A report released yesterday by the Suffolk Police Federation showed 14 per cent of the 175 Suffolk Constabulary officers surveyed over 2023 were considering leaving the force within the next two years — this is a decrease from the 15 per cent in 2022 and below the overall proportion for England and Wales.

The vast majority of those surveyed in Suffolk cite low morale and the job’s impact on their mental health as the main reasons for wanting to leave, at 92 and 88 per cent respectively.

If he were to be elected, Sir Robin promised to tackle outdated bureaucracies and take a look at how to better manage officer’s workload, suggesting he would look to use volunteers to look at certain evidence such as CCTV, use artificial intelligence to help make judgements, and make better use of the county council’s powers in planning enforcement.

He also suggested raising capital to build police houses in villages and towns across the county to make the job offer more attractive to officers as well as keep them within local communities.

Combined, he believes this would not only improve staff retention but also aid in crucial policing work, such as shoplifting and rural crime.

Sir Robin said: “If I don’t make a difference on the things I promise when I get in, I will not stand again, I’m absolutely clear about that.

“I will look at the numbers, make my promises and I will either deliver that or I’m gone.

“People have to trust me and if I can’t do it, then let somebody else have a go.”

Each district council will be responsible for counting the ballot papers for its area, with the results being announced at West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmunds on Friday, May 3.

The other candidates are Rachel Smith-Lyte (Green Party), James Sandbach (Liberal Democrats), and Tim Passmore (Conservative Party).