My mother, straight-talking Yorkshire woman that she is, has always been blunt about the need for expertise – “if the boiler needs fixing, call a plumber, not the odd-job -man”. Fearing the politicisation of operational policing in the hands of non-experts, I was extremely sceptical when Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were first introduced by the coalition government in 2012, as were Labour at the time.
But on Humberside, those fears have been firmly put to bed under Keith Hunter, who took the PCC post from a Conservative incumbent in 2016. Inheriting the worst performing force in the country, suffering under the brunt of Tory/Lib-Dem cuts to services and officer numbers, Hunter wasted no time in starting to sort the force out and the incumbent chief constable stepped down. Hunter quickly promoted the temporary deputy Chief Constable Lee Freeman as Chief.
Together with the new Chief and all the women and men that serve, Hunter has since completely transformed a basket case into one of the country’s best.
They might say it more quietly, but many Tory politicians on Humberside also respect and admire Hunter’s background and record, thanks to his genuine natural ability to work for the good of all residents and stay above the partisan battles.
His criticisms of Government policy are firmly grounded in the perspective of a former senior frontline officer who knows in his bones what is required to deliver safer communities.
Bucking the national trend, Humberside now has falling crime rates, an additional 600 officers, (separate from any recent promises from central government) and a renewed focus on community policing.
Hunter has made the PCC role what it should be, combining accountability to and an instinct for local priorities with over 30 years’ in policing, and that approach will appeal to voters across Humberside.
He has the track record and kind of expertise that my mother can get behind, and I believe voters here will give Hunter the second term he has earnt when the polls open on Thursday.