Fiona Scott Media Consultanccy

Almost 900 people have taken part in a survey by Wiltshire's only independent police and crime commissioner candidate, Mike Rees, to find out what they want from their local police over the next four years.

"I wanted to use the survey to hear what was important to the people of Swindon, Salisbury and Wiltshire. I expected to receive around 200 responses yet was overwhelmed to receive almost 900 responses which came from across the county," Mike said.

In the survey, Mike set out his four main priorities if he is elected as the new PPC:

  • Stronger presence
  • Wise and responsible spending
  • Supporting communities
  • Safer streets

Of those who took part in the survey, 46 per cent wanted a stronger police presence (409), while 24 per cent (213) wanted safer streets – as a priority.

"If a crime is reported the community needs to have confidence it will be taken seriously, and that evidential opportunities will be followed up, otherwise, what is the point reporting it?" Mike said.

Ninety per cent of respondents (797) surveyed were against the current PCC's estates' strategy of selling off police stations.

"I will investigate how these sales have been handled and what meaningful and easily accessible public consultation took place. The PCC may feel that he didn't need to have consulted those he represents about this issue, but it's clear from my survey responses many disagree with what has been happening. I hope it's not too late. It's also completely ludicrous that the county’s only city has no dedicated police station or custody suite," Mike said.

Survey participants were also asked how important visible policing was to them. For 67 per cent (595) it was extremely important and a further 26 per cent (227) it was somewhat important. Mike's response was:

"Visible policing provides reassurance and facilitates intelligence gathering which means police are on the front foot and prevent small problems, becoming bigger ones.

"Whether it be an officer on foot, cycle or a vehicle patrol or simply the presence of a police station provides comfort within a community. There are added complications around police numbers, training, staff retention and lack of experience.

"All these areas concern me and need looking at. If successful on 6 May, I'll urge the chief constable to increase police presence within communities and reverse the detachment which has occurred over the years. I will seek to manage budgets to provide the chief constable with necessary funds to increase front line resources."

The survey also asked about how safe people felt in their communities? Fifty-two per cent (466) felt somewhat safe. The number feeling extremely unsafe was low, this clearly shows that community safety remains a concern.

"Safety in communities is not just about policing. It is the responsibility of the whole community. Community support networks, businesses, crime reduction partnerships and a variety of agencies can all contribute to keeping their communities safe.

"I believe that this is a key feature of reducing crime and disorder and reducing demand on the Police which can, in turn, have a profound effect on visibility on the streets," said Mike.

Finally, the survey asked if the theft of a pet should be treated more seriously than the theft of property - 76 per cent (671) wanted pet theft to be considered as more than theft of property. Mike commented:

"As a pet owner I can agree. However, this is a legislative issue and needs to be addressed through the government, but as a minimum, I would expect Wiltshire police to be thoroughly investigating all such cases, and to heighten public awareness of the issue where necessary."

Mike served 30 years as a police officer, retiring as a detective inspector. Since then he has been running a business and charity, as well as being involved in his local community of Malmesbury.

* Mike Rees is the only independent candidate standing for the role of Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner, the other candidates are: Jonathan Seed - Conservative, Junab Ali - Labour, Liz Webster - Liberal Democrats, Julian Malins - Reform UK and Brig Oubridge - Green Party

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