Cleo Lake, Green Party Councillor for Cotham and former Green Party Lord Mayor of Bristol, is running for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election on 6 May. Lake has said that in the PCC role for Avon and Somerset, her vision would be to ‘build a modern police force that works with communities, for communities’.
Lake recently unveiled one of her key election pledges as looking to end the overuse of police Stop and Search if elected as PCC, pointing to the fact that in Avon and Somerset, disproportionate numbers of Stop and Search affect members of the local African and Asian communities, with young black men six and half times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts.
Lake said: “A major part of my campaign manifesto is institutional reform. The disproportionate use of stop and search against members of our Afrikan and Asian communities and particularly amongst a young demographic must be reduced.
“It also gets worse if you go outside of Bristol, and in some cases clearly wastes police time which could be better spent elsewhere. Many lead to no further action.
“We need to empower communities, hear them and build trust. I believe in active democracy so part of my plans are to also launch an area-wide youth panel and ensure regular community meetings are held to monitor progress.”
Her election pledge was met with support from Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley, who added: “The evidence is very clear that excessive and disproportionate stop and search does more harm than good. It breeds mistrust among communities, and it racially profiles people - something we must not accept. For justice to truly be served, we’ve got to dismantle systemic racism everywhere.”
“The Green Party will always stand against discrimination and inequality, and I know that Cleo would do an excellent job if voters make her their first choice in the PCC election. She would bring the healthy, positive scrutiny that good policing needs.”
Bristol’s Green mayoral candidate Sandy Hore-Ruthven, who recently wrote in Green World about his plans to build Bristol back better, also voiced his support for Cleo’s candidacy.
Hore-Ruthven added: “Cleo is a unique candidate – there is nobody who is better placed to bring communities and police together and build trust on all sides. Having been Lord Mayor of Bristol, chairing the Avon Fire Authority inclusion board along with a long history of community development work, she’s the ideal person to lead the institutional change that’s needed.”
Kahina Bouhassane is the Green Party candidate for the PCC elections in Sussex and has said she is committed to making Sussex police a ‘police force for the people’.
Bouhassane has also added her voice to those raising concerns over ongoing Home Office pressure to place fire services under the control of Police and Crime Commissioners.
The Home Office is increasing pressure up and down the country for local fire and rescue services to come under the control of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC). Critics of the move are concerned this would take oversight away from local councillors, and give the PCCs the ability to hire and sack staff.
Fire services – currently steered by Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) made up of elected councillors – are responsible for almost 700,000 annual home safety visits to vulnerable older people living on their own. This preventative measure is partly praised for helping reduce pressure on the NHS.
Under proposals being pushed by the Home Office, these fire and rescue services would be transferred to bodies set up to oversee the police.
Speaking out against the Home Office’s plans, Bouhassane has said she believes the work the fire services and the police do to ensure public safety is different and trying to merge them threatens their independence and risks eroding the trust the public has in the services.
Bouhassane added: “This is a transparent case of the Home Office trying to seize back control of local fire services.
“At the moment local elected councillors work closely with firefighters in supporting their work in the community, which has been incredibly effective in promoting fire prevention. Giving in to Home Office pressure would not only undermine this vital work, but would also undermine ongoing collaborations between fire services and local NHS services.”
“Despite the Tory cuts to fire services up and down the country, our firefighters remain dedicated to their courageous and essential work. When fire services are already achieving so much, and already collaborate so closely with the police and ambulance services, it seems astonishing that the government would choose this moment for unnecessary meddling and reorganisation.
“It is simply another example of the Home Office prioritising their budgets over concerns of public safety,” Bouhassane concluded.