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Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC, comment on the 2016 Queen’s Speech

19th May 2016

“The Government has announced plans to legislate the reform of prisons, an announcement we have heard year after year yet have seen no evidence of these pledges being delivered. Mr Cameron is right in saying that for too long we have left our prisons to fester – here he is condemning his own failures. We need a programme of change to provide early intervention, support and community alternatives to custody, and the public needs to see this change happen.

“Better mental health provisions for individuals in the criminal justice system have been announced – something fully underway here in Northumbria through our police response and local partnerships which have formed a successful street triage. Keeping such valued initiatives in place and strengthening the capability of the police service, as the Government also pledges, rests on one thing – funding – and that is an area in which our police forces remain kept in the dark.

“Furthermore, I urge the Government yet again to rethink plans detailed in the Police and Crime Bill to give volunteers similar powers to the police despite them having no disciplinary link over them. This isn’t about adding value, which is what volunteers are usually for – it is about substituting volunteers for people who have historically been contracted to do the job.

“I also welcome news that other PCCs will be following in Northumbria’s footsteps to make positive change to police complaints system at local level by adapting our systems and processes in order to improve efficiencies and service.”