April 20 2014 Latest news:
By Marijke Cox
Thursday, May 3, 2012
55-year-old is up against Iraq war hero Colonel Tim Collins and Medway councillor Mike O’Brien
A senior member of Kent County Council is the third person to enter the race for the Conservative nomination to be the county’s first Police and Crime Commissioner.
Cabinet member for transport and environment Cllr Bryan Sweetland threw his hat in the ring, saying he would provide a fresh approach to the challenges and opportunities faced by Kent Police. He also vowed to cut the PCC’s expected salary of £85,000.
“It is far too excessive in the current period of austerity and out of proportion with other elected positions in Kent,” said Cllr Sweetland.
The 55-year-old, who joined KCC’s cabinet around 18 months ago and has been a county councillor for three years, will go up against Iraq war hero Colonel Tim Collins and Medway councillor and chair of the area’s Community Safety Partnership Mike O’Brien in the race to become the Tory candidate for November’s PCC election.
He hinted that if elected it was likely he would stand down from his cabinet position.
“The PCC role is a full time job. It will take a lot of work,” he said.
He would not be drawn into commenting on his Tory competitors, but said there was likely be even more candidates in the coming months.
“I’m sure the Conservatives will have good people coming forward hoping to get the job and I’d like to think I’m one of them.”
Potential other competitors for the PCC role include Fergus Wilson, who owns hundreds of properties in Kent; Kenneth Little, an independent candidate who lives near Whitstable; and Harriet Yeo, from Ashford, a councillor seeking the Labour Party nomination.
Cllr Sweetland – who describes himself as the “most senior” of Kent’s politicians to enter the race – said while he is not a member of the existing Police Authority or a retired officer, his background would enable him to bring a business-like approach to Kent Police.
He also vowed to cut red tape.
“Under the last government the police were micro-managed from Whitehall, spending more time on paperwork than on patrol,” he said.
“In fact, when the previous government left office, just 11 per cent of police officers were visible and available to the public at any one time.
“The Labour government even appointed a Tsar to cut out policing ‘red tape’ but that just created even more lengthy reports and little action. Cutting out red tape and the huge associated costs will be a key priority area during my first year as the PCC.”
Cllr Sweetland said if elected there would be no compulsory redundancies of frontline police officers - although it is illegal for the force to make officers redundant. They must choose to voluntarily leave or finish their service.
“There were suggestions made in the document by Tom Winsor of bringing in compulsory redundancies for officers, but I would not let this happen. This is not what the public would want.”
He stressed the need for partnership working with private and public sector organisations.
“It is possible to save millions of pounds by having a sensible ‘joined up’ public sector approach to tackle crime in problem areas,” he said.
“However, for the partnerships to work, every partner must be held to account. There will be ‘no acting without thinking’ or ‘thinking without acting’.”
“I believe a lot more money must be recovered from the people who commit serious crime. The increase from the proceeds from crime could be used in our fight against crime. I will champion this with other PCC’s and will expect support from central government in achieving this objective.
“Also on a national level, I will work with others in the criminal justice system to ensure that the scales of justice are weighted in favour of the victims of crime and not the perpetrators of crime.
“However, most of my time will be spent listening to local people and translating their concerns and aspirations about policing into action.”
Cllr Sweetland spent thirty years in the telecommunications industry, working in America, Europe, Bermuda and the UK.
He has been a company director and non executive director of large international companies and public sector organisations. He has managed multi million pound budgets and constructively challenged others about their budgets. He retired from a business career five years ago at the age of 50.
The PCC will take over from Kent Police Authority in November. They will have the power to hold the force to account, determine policing strategy, set the budget and issue a five-year policing plan.
The salary is £85,000 and will be paid “irrespective of the number of days worked”.