Police and Crime Commissioner Candidates: Paul Davison (Independent)
He is the only former police officer in the race to become Humberside’s first police and crime commissioner. In the first of a series of interviews with all seven candidates, Jenna Thompson speaks to Paul Davison about why he wants the job.
AFTER retiring from 30 years of policing, Paul Davison was looking forward to relaxing on a beach.
During his progression from a PC on the beat in Hull to the man in charge of police in the East Riding, he has investigated some of the most serious and high-profile crimes in the region.
But instead of enjoying his retirement, the 59-year-old has been campaigning to become the first Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner.
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"I could have been sitting on a nice, hot beach right now, but this is a fantastic opportunity and I believe I could make a real change," he says.
"It would be an honour and a privilege to be the first commissioner. I would love the job and the anticipation is exhilarating."
As the only former police officer in the race for the job, Mr Davison believes he offers a unique perspective.
"I wouldn't be doing this if I hadn't had 30 years in the police force," he says.
"I struggle to understand how someone who hasn't could understand the nuances and subtleties of policing and come up with a plan for what they want to do."
He is sitting in the living room of his home in the East Riding, where photographs of his five children stand proudly above a roaring log fire.
Nearby, a cardboard box is overflowing with hundreds of copies of his newly-printed manifesto.
At the heart of Mr Davison's campaign is a desire to put the residents of the Humberside force area at the top of every officer's agenda.
"Every day, whatever decision is made, I want people to ask, 'will this make a positive difference to the public?',", he says.
"If the answer is no, they shouldn't do it.
"Everything I have learnt during my career has led me to that vision. It is about putting the public at the heart of policing."
One of his proudest achievements is investigating every crime and report of antisocial behaviour during his time as the divisional commander for the East Riding, where he ended his career.
It is a policy he would roll out across the force area if he is elected on November 15.
"There is an arrogance in not investigating every crime," he says.
"We used to do it years ago but have lost our way. I don't know why we stopped that. When did we stop wanting to catch criminals?"
He insists, despite the force battling against a budget cut of £30 million, it is possible to investigate every report that comes in.
"I did it in the East Riding by using PCSOs to investigate low-level offences. We know resources are going down and public expectations are going up," says Mr Davison.
"I want to exceed expectations and I want to take that vision of what I wanted to do in the East Riding to Hull, to North East Lincolnshire – across the whole of Humberside.
"If I was elected, we would have to raise the ambition of Humberside Police. We need to be better than we are at reducing crime, antisocial behaviour, and the quality of service we provide.
"I know how to reduce crime and stop criminals. It doesn't happen by accident; it comes through hard work, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
As an independent candidate, Mr Davison speaks of the difficulty of going up against the political party machines.
In an election that also includes Labour heavyweight Lord Prescott, he likens it to "fighting a boxing match with one of your hands tied behind your back".
"This has been one of the hardest and loneliest things I have ever done," he says.
"Running a campaign is completely foreign to me. Handing out manifestos on the street is just not me at all but I have quite enjoyed meeting and speaking to people. It is probably not something I would do again but I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
Despite the difficulties of being an independent candidate, he believes he might just pull off a surprise result come polling day.
"I wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't think I had a chance," says Mr Davison.
"I have the passion, the grit, the drive to stand up and fight. If it was an even playing field, I think I would have an excellent chance. If I was the two main parties, I would be looking at me knowing I have 30 years in policing and thinking I have a lot to offer."
If he succeeds, he has promised to be directly available to all residents who are unhappy with the police.
"At the minute, if the police let you down, there is nowhere to go," he says.
"But people could come to me. They can have my mobile number and call me and I will help."
Mr Davison was born into "quite a poor background" on Hull's Bilton Grange estate.
Although he admits he was not interested in lessons at Maybury Primary School, he went on to achieve a PHD in chemical engineering.
He later turned down a lucrative job at Proctor and Gamble to join the police in Hull.
After he retired from the force earlier this year, Mr Davison had planned to write a book on some of the cases he had investigated, including the murder of Rachel Moran.
But the chance to become the first commissioner, managing the force's £180m budget and setting its priorities, was one he could not resist.
"I knew I had to do it," he says.
"The last couple of months have been incredibly challenging but it is my vision that keeps me going.
"If I don't get it, I will know I did my best and have had the chance to put that vision across to a large amount of people.
"If I do get it, I know I will do a fantastic job and put the public back at the heart of policing.
"That is an altruistic dream I have got. People might scoff at that but I don't care. I know why I am doing it."
The election will be held on Thursday, November 15, and the results counted, verified and announced the day after. For more, see our Viewpoints crime commissioner letters round-up on pages 14-15.