On the 6th of May, elections will be held to determine who will be the next Police Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for North Yorkshire.
The NYE will therefore be running an Election Special consisting of a series of articles covering the election. This will include the background to the election, a review of the performance of the current incumbent, interviews with all the candidates and coverage of election issues as they arise.
If you are not eligible to vote, applications to vote can be made online: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
In this article, Tim Hicks interviews the Labour & Co-operative Party candidate Alison Hume
2021 PFCC Election Special 6: Alison Hume [Lab.]
by TIM HICKS
Approach to candidate coverage
The NYE is politically neutral, so to ensure impartial coverage each candidate was asked to provide:
- A photograph
- Biographical details.
- An outline of his or her manifesto.
Each candidate was also offered the opportunity of having a short interview with the author based on five standard questions put to each candidate, which they had sight of beforehand.
Nominations for candidates had to be in by Thursday the 8th of April 2021 and four candidates have been nominated:
- Philip Allott (Conservative)
- James Barker (Lib Dem)
- Alison Hume (Labour)
- Keith Tordoff MBE (Independent)
The candidate’s comments are in italics below.
- Why do you want to be PFCC and what sets you apart from the other candidates?
“I want to be a voice for the people and to stand up for them. I am a journalist and campaigner with a successful career in broadcasting and broadcast journalism, not a failed local politician looking for a political appointment for a few years. If elected I want to produce a strategy to dramatically reduce violence against women and girls in North Yorkshire.
I was privileged to attend the Labour Party’s Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme, which is a training programme for passionate and experienced women who are ready to lead in the Labour Party. I want to see more diversity with women in more roles demonstrating they can do the job.
I started campaigning when my son -who has a complex disability- was born and have achieved change and improvements for other children with disabilities.
I am a Trustee of a major charity Choice Support which provides support to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs. It has a £64m budget and 2,500 employees. I also have my own production company which has produced children’s drama for the BBC. I am experienced in reviewing spending and obtaining value for money. I have the skills from my experience as a broadcaster and journalist to scrutinise, look at the facts and get to the truth. I have honed my influencing skills as a campaigner for the disadvantaged, vulnerable and awkward, who tend to be overlooked and forgotten.
I will be giving up my employment to focus full time on the role if elected.”
- What specific experience do you have in the areas of policing and/or fire and rescue services that suit you to the role?
“I have not served in the police or the fire service. This is an advantage, because I am independent of existing relationships, allegiances and ways of doing things.
I want to speak up for victims on their journey through the justice system and ensure that it is as efficient and painless as possible.
A critical part of the role is holding the Chief Constable and the Chief Fire Officer to Account. This is very important and hasn’t happened enough. I am not frightened of being unpopular.
I therefore feel I am qualified and experienced to be successful in role.”
- What areas do you believe North Yorkshire Police, the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner and the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner’s Office have not performed well since 2016. If elected, how will you improve them?
North Yorkshire Police
It is difficult to know where to start.
- Violent crime up 103% since 2014/2015.
- Three in every ten people in North Yorkshire are experiencing or witnessing anti-social behaviour. Prevention is key. Our police service need to use intelligence led policing in the community more, and reactive “respond and record” less in my view.
A 23% increase in rural crime since 2019.
- The police have failed to crack down on wildlife crime, which is the Cinderella service of the service.
- North Yorkshire Police has a poor record on domestic violence. It has completely failed women and girls; too many cases are pushed to one side with “no further action”. The charge rate for domestic abuse in 2019 – 2020 was 4%, compared to 9% nationally. I think the public have been failed with the lack of effective police response.
- Residents’ lives are being endangered and made a misery by speeding drivers because the speed camera vans used by North Yorkshire Police are inadequate. If elected I will support the introduction of fixed speed cameras in Yorkshire
I am very concerned about County lines drug dealers. Many families across North Yorkshire have had their lives utterly blighted by ruthless drug dealers. These organised crime gangs are ripping our families and communities apart. Young people aged 14-17 are most likely to be targeted by criminal groups but there are reports of seven-year-olds being groomed.
We must stop the exploitation of vulnerable people and children to transport, store and sell Class A drugs across North Yorkshire in its tracks.
I will prioritise supporting the police to cut county lines through the creation of a Specialist Enforcement Unit to track and catch criminals on the roads and an expansion of Project Shield on the railways.
I am worried about the increased vulnerability of young people as we come out of the pandemic. As the mother of a vulnerable young adult I know that these gangs target those who are the least able to resist them. Preventative services like youth clubs play an important role in stopping criminal activity and drugs use, but Tory budget cuts of 73% – nearly £1 billion – have decimated youth services.
I will work with partners to maximise resources to safeguard young people and support drug diversion schemes to reduce both harm and demand for drugs.
The children and young people recruited by county lines criminals are victims: they are not the problem. It is vital that we develop a compassionate whole system approach to ensure vulnerable people are identified, safeguarded and helped to make a positive change.
North Yorkshire Police, the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner
I think Julia Mulligan should have stepped down in 2018 when the bullying allegations emerged. If she had been a LibDem or Labour PFCC, she would almost certainly have gone but the Tories formed a square around her and she limped on for three more years.
Julia Mulligan has failed as a communicator; I have not seen her out and about in the community. Compare her performance to Andy Burnham (Mayor of Manchester) who has been an effective voice that has connected with the public and proactively made changes.
She did a good job with the Supporting Victims suite of services, which I think is one of the better services for victims in the country. If elected I want to improve on this and have a cohesive single strategy to drastically reduce violence against women and girls, with victims at the heart of it.
Office of the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire
The bullying investigation has not reflected well on the OPFCC. It confirmed there were serious deficiencies in the office culture, which allowed bullying.
The OPFCC is not transparent and the website is opaque. It is impossible to identify the staff numbers. There are only two statutory roles required by law. It is unclear from the website how many staff there are, whether it is twenty seven, or twenty nine.
Introduction of the Police and Crime Commissioners in 2012 was supposed to have reduced costs compared to the old Police Authority system. Costs and numbers seem to have shot up in the last twelve months, but this may be because of the merger with the Fire Service. The OPFCC appears to be bloated. I want to review numbers on Day 1.
I am very concerned about the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, which is the second worst funded fire service in the country and has a £500,000 deficit.
Fire coverage in rural areas has declined as fire stations are closed or merged with police stations. There has been a smokescreen of information presenting the closures as a choice because not enough members of the public use them, although everyone wants adequate police and fire coverage. Closing a police station opens up a vacuum for criminality, particularly in rural areas where they mourn the loss of this community service.
I will campaign for a national overhaul of the system of Retained Fire Fighters and to increase their numbers in North Yorkshire. I am concerned that we don’t have enough full time firefighters to cover the effects of climate change, particularly floods and wild fires.
I am also concerned that the back office merger of Police and Fire Service support functions has created yet another well paid role (Ray Ward, MD of Enable North Yorkshire circa £110,00) overseeing the cost cutting at the expense of the frontline. Article here.
I want to get to the bottom of all of these issues and set new priorities, with victims interests and the frontline prioritised.”
- Do you have any specific comments on the following three specific local issues that have been raised in the NYE and are of interest to our readers?:
4.1. The refusal of North Yorkshire Police to investigate the murder of a woman in 1979 thought to be from Scarborough and the response of PFCC Mulligan to this: http://nyenquirer.uk/toms-matter-1/
4.2. The Chief Constable’s policy of not prosecuting police officers for breaches of the Coronavirus Lockdown Regulations and being asleep on duty, and the response of PFCC Mulligan to this: http://nyenquirer.uk/sleeping-beauties/
4.3. The Chief Constable and PFCC Mulligan’s joint policy of not engaging with the NYE. NYE coverage: http://nyenquirer.uk/a-letter-from-the-chief/
“I won’t comment on the NYE campaign stories in detail, because I would want to fully understand the issues fully before going into any detail on them. However, I would offer the following general comments:
4.1. I thought that murder investigations remain open and the police do look at them in the light of the latest forensic evidence. I’d like to know why the police are refusing to investigate. Any murder victim is someone’s sister, mother, daughter. She will have family who have lost contact with her, but still need to know what happened to her. Every victim counts.
4.2. During the pandemic we have all had a hard time following all the new rules. North Yorkshire Police are no different and if police officers contravene the rules they should be fined, in line with other police forces.
4.3. I am completely supportive of citizen and community journalism and believe the public should be allowed to know what is going on. I am aware of the NYE’s work and would congratulate you on your campaigning style of journalism. You are turning over stones that other people want to be left untouched, which is healthy for the community. The police should have nothing to hide and I don’t understand why they don’t want to engage.”
Alison’s website is here.
Biographical information provided by the candidate
My mum was born into poverty in Hull. My father came from a family of glassblowers and teachers in York. They both instilled in me the values of education, hard work and community. I feel fortunate to have been able to raise and educate my own three children in this region, where every day I see people manifesting our core values of mutual care and support. I consider bringing up my wonderful family, for the last eleven years as a sole parent, to be my greatest achievement.
Professionally, I am an award winning screenwriter and lecturer at Leeds University. I began as a journalist on local stories and progressed to working as a news editor at ITV Calendar before writing BAFTA and RTS Yorkshire award-winning dramas which highlight important social issues. Running my own television production company, I collaborate with people at all levels, empowering teams to work effectively and managing the finances to enable this. Over my 20 year writing career I’ve tackled many issues in my scripts, including the Royal Television Society 2005 nominated drama “Beaten” starring Robson Green which explored male domestic violence and the lack of support for male victims.
A lifelong Labour party member, a dedicated trade unionist and disability campaigner for over twenty years, I am committed to speaking up for the vulnerable, overlooked and marginalised. As the parent of a child with complex disabilities, I’ve spent decades successfully fighting to improve opportunities and services for people like my son. Locally, this includes leading the current campaign to improve access to York city centre for disabled citizens and visitors. Nationally, in my role as Trustee of Choice Support, I help oversee the multi-million pound budgets through which this charity supports those with autism and learning disabilities.
In my spare time I love taking walks with our rescue dog. These days we walk close to my home of course but in happier times our favourite walks include the Whitby to Sandsend beach walk. Tarka is also a trusty companion on the campaign trail!
Manifesto provided by the candidate
When we emerge from the pandemic we all know in our hearts we cannot go back to how things used to.
- Run an effective campaign powered by traditional values and pledging to build back safer communities after the ravages of the pandemic.
- Offer a strong and passionate voice to speak up for the vulnerable, marginalised and forgotten.
- Fight for improved funding at a national level for our frontline heroes.
As a working mother of three, I understand how ordinary families are feeling at this terribly difficult time. I am not a career politician but I have the professional and life experience to take on the job and make a difference to our communities.
I have been a Labour Party member and committed activist for 35 years. I am never happier than when I am door knocking and getting out and about. As a Candidate in last year’s European elections, I campaigned across our glorious county.
I have campaigned on disability issues for twenty years after my second child was born with complex disabilities. I am a committed activist holding regional, constituency and branch officer positions including Women’s Officer for York CLP. I am a graduate of the 2019 Labour Women’s Network Jo Cox Women in Leadership.
More than thirty years’ experience as a former News Editor (ITV Calendar), BAFTA & RTS Yorkshire winning screenwriter and university lecturer makes me a skilled and confident communicator. I am proud to be a trustee for Choice Support, the national charity providing supported living to people with autism across Yorkshire.
We all want to live in better, safer and more connected communities. My manifesto will pledge initiatives to reduce violence towards women and girls including better scrutiny and victim support. Hate crime, cybercrime and fraud against the elderly, county lines and visible rural community policing are my other priority areas.
Ten years of savage cuts have devastated police numbers. Our fire and rescue service has suffered from chronic long-term underinvestment and a brutal reorganisation under the current Tory PFCC. Our police, fire and rescue heroes will be celebrated in my Rainbow Frontline project, putting them at the heart of the communities they serve. I would engage in an extensive consultation with the combined services, public and all stakeholders to deliver a visionary PFCC Plan which targets community cohesion.
I am ready to be the voice of North Yorkshire residents and a champion for our frontline heroes and those who work and volunteer alongside them. We can build back our communities after Covid.