Humberside PCC Matthew Grove aims to divert wasted cash into policing on frontline
"MY job is to get the best use of money for taxpayers and cut crime."
Those were two of the pledges made by the new Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Grove when he took part in the Grimsby Telegraph Editor's Online Debate at www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk yesterday.
The commissioner, who was elected in November and took up his post just over a month ago, said he had already saved millions in taxpayers' money.
Mr Grove said he also aimed to "rise above the political froth" which has surrounded his controversial appointment of deputy commissioner Paul Robinson.
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The appointment was criticised by members of the Police And Crime Panel and it has now also been revealed that Mr Robinson had been stopped by police while using his mobile phone at the wheel of his car as he drove towards the Humber Bridge in November, several weeks before his appointment.
Mr Grove said: "It was clearly the wrong thing to do, the matter has been dealt with but we should remember that even politicians are human and make mistakes, even silly ones."
More than 150 Grimsby Telegraph readers took part in the online debate.
Editor Michelle Lalor said: "It was a really good debate and one of the best we have had in view of the variety of questions and the serious issues that readers posed. We hope to repeat it with Matthew Grove in the near future and have a regular debate with the commissioner so he can keep up to pace with local policing issues."
Mr Grove said the debate had been "fantastic" and welcomed the opportunity to talk directly to many residents of North East Lincolnshire and listen to their concerns.
He said: "It has been a great benefit. We should do this again."
Mr Grove has a salary of £75,000 per year and Mr Robinson gets £45,000.
The commissioner heads a Force with a budget of £180 million after facing cuts of around £30 million over the next few years.
Mr Grove said: "My position has always been that there are not bucket loads of public funds. It is coming from the residents' pockets.
"My job is to get the best use of residents' money, cut crime and reduce the number of victims and make people feel safe in their communities."
As soon as he took up his office, Mr Grove was asked to sign for a new police fleet maintenance depot near Melton, on the North Bank.
The estimated cost was £8 million.
Mr Grove said he had heard the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service was also discussing plans for a new vehicle maintenance depot. He said his idea of building a facility which served both services instead had saved the taxpayer about £2 million.
Mr Grove said: "Where there is duplication and waste I will ensure it is diverted into frontline policing."
Mr Grove has twice visited Grimsby's East Marsh since his election.
In answer to a question from Andrew Deighton about what he was doing to rid the streets of Grimsby from violent crime and whether he can ban trophy dogs, Mr Grove said: "It is not me it is 'we'. The police alone will not solve the violent crime problem that exists in areas across Humberside, it is not just Grimsby. We need to challenge a sub-culture that accepts violence and this will involve many organisations and the community as a whole."
On curbing antisocial behaviour, Mr Grove said: "Much good work has been done over recent years but there is much more to do. I hope to encourage early intervention and zero tolerance.
"I am concerned that the systems that are there to protect and respond to antisocial behaviour do not work properly all of the time.
"I met a family in Grimsby just before Christmas who had been driven out of their own home. This cannot be acceptable and I am determined that victims are better protected."
The commissioner praised the role of specials in the Humberside Constabulary and he backed North East Lincolnshire Council in giving Specials a 50 per cent cut in their council tax.
He said: "Special constables in my experience are not motivated by money. The work they do is essential to the policing of this area and without their presence our communities and streets would not be as safe as they are. What Specials deserve is proper recognition, which is why I am seeking all local authorities to provide a 50 per cent council tax discount as a thank you. To date, only one local authority, East Riding, has not agreed to do this. North East Lincolnshire do agree."
Mr Grove said he would hold regular surgeries with the victims of crime to find out how to improve services towards the victims of crimes.
The commissioner said he backed the use of more traffic officers on the roads rather than speed cameras.
He said: "Nothing can be more important than preserving life, which is the primary responsibility of the police. I regard casualty reduction as essential but tactics like speed enforcement have to be balanced against the demands to deal with crime and disorder. I do believe we need to review our road safety and roads policing policies to ensure they are delivering what is needed. Have we gone too far towards relying on speed cameras and in the process removed too many officers from our roads?"
After a concern raised by a resident about six and seven-year-olds roaming the streets of North East Lincolnshire late at night, Mr Grove said he would take the matter up with the director of social services at North East Lincolnshire Council
He said: "It is an issue for police and social services and every case has to be dealt with on its merits. However, if you are telling me that six and seven-year-old children are on the streets late at night then this is an issue which requires positive action and powers are available to officers.
"I am due to meet the director of social services shortly and would be pleased to take this issue up with the director on your behalf."
Mr Grove invited readers with specific concerns to contact him on his website www.humberside-pcc.gov.uk
To replay the discussion, click on the player below: