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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 15:21 GMT
Blunkett's local policing plans welcomed
Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom
Richard Brunstrom has been criticised for his stance on speeding
North Wales Police has hit the headlines more than any other force over the past few months, incurring the wrath of countless drivers over its tough stance on speeding motorists.

On Tuesday, Home Secretary David Blunkett announced plans to make forces more accountable and change police authorities so they are wholly or partially directly elected by the public.

The proposals could give the public greater input on issues such as speeding and more bobbies on the beat.

The news has been greeted with enthusiasm by people around Wrexham and some of their politicians.

They feel it might help quell discontent after the force's Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom was accused of being "obsessed" with catching speeding motorists at the expense of fighting crime.

Valerie Hurford
Valerie Hurford wants more bobbies on the beat

One way this might help is through Mr Blunkett's suggestion of creating "community advocates" to help people deal with crime and the police, and argue for the policing they want.

Former AM Alison Halford - former assistant chief constable with Merseyside Police - went on to serve on the North Wales Police Authority for four years.

She said local people should be listened to.

"Enormous changes need to be made," she said.

"The public doesn't really have a clue what's going on in the police force.

Disconnected

"[The Police Authority] is a cosy chief constable's club that allows the chief constable to do what he or she wants."

Malcolm King, chairman of North Wales Police Authority, also said he was in favour of Mr Blunkett's plans.

"I'm very keen to support the proposals....people want more community policing, they want to feel more in touch with the things that keep them safe," he said.

"I'm afraid over the years we've become completely disconnected from local communities and we have to change that so people do feel that they own their own public services."

The proposals, contained in a consultation paper, come after government research showed people had a lack of knowledge about what police authorities do.

Wilfred Jones
Wilfred Jones wants more of a say on local policing

People shopping in Wrexham on Tuesday said they wanted more input on policing issues but felt that the Police Authority was already partially elected with local councillors sitting on the body.

"We vote our councillors on so we've got to trust them," said Valerie Hurford from Wrexham.

Wilfred Jones, 81, said North Wales Police need to engage with locals needs but he was also against community advocates.

"You don't see many people on the beat in rural areas....I think the police need to introduce more police on the beat.

"I think you need to know about people before you can vote them onto anything," he added.




SEE ALSO:
Brunstrom - MPs' mixed reaction
10 Sep 03  |  Wales
Brunstrom told to 'get a grip'
08 Aug 03  |  North West Wales


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