13. POLICE AND CRIME

13. POLICE AND CRIME

Labour recognises that communities need to feel safe, and need access to local police stations which are actually open to the public.

Labour also recognises that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat governments since 2010 have cut police numbers. We will reverse this trend, halting the proposed closures and sales of several police stations throughout Cornwall.

Labour will seek to recruit at least 500 police constables, and 200 Police Community Support Officers, to restore Devon & Cornwall constabulary to its 2010 operating levels.

Labour wants to see more local policing by consent, and believes this is best achieved by the police and local communities working together. The effects of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat austerity programme must be recognised as one of the causes of crime.

Much of our police force’s time is taken up with dealing with drug-taking and its consequential petty crime.

One proposal is to recognise that current laws relating to the possession of cannabis are hopelessly inadequate and bring our criminal justice system into disrepute.

We suggest that cannabis cultivation should be licensed and taxed in Cornwall, as it is in California and an increasing number of countries and US states. The tax revenues for Cornwall could be substantial along with a major saving on policing bills.

Labour would champion the case for Cornwall being a pilot area to test the decriminalisation of cannabis production. At the time of writing, the Royal College of Psychiatrists is about to announce a review of its opposition to decriminalisation. The Royal College of Physicians, British Medical Journal, British Medical Association and Royal Society for Public Health have already called for reform of the current laws, up to and including legalisation.

Labour is not afraid of a rational debate about drugs policy, noting that support for reform comes from a wide spectrum of opinion – from the government’s former drugs advisor, professor David Knutt, to the former Conservative Party leader William Hague. Several senior police officers also support decriminalisation.

Labour would commission an inquiry to study how Cornwall could construct a tightly-controlled and time-limited pilot scheme to test the effectiveness of cannabis decriminalisation, regulation and taxation.

Prisons and Custody Suites

Cornwall’s geographic isolation means that too many potential offenders are locked up on remand in the disgraceful, dangerous Exeter prison. This Victorian jail should be closed and demolished. Its existence is a stain on our criminal justice system, and it poses a particular threat to young men from Cornwall – isolated from their families, and particularly vulnerable to suicide.

Labour will ensure that a remand centre is built in Cornwall to house potential offenders to whom bail has been denied, pending their trials.

Labour wants to see Cornwall policing based in Cornwall with a democratically-elected Cornwall police committee, replacing Police & Crime Commissioners based in Devon.

Labour will listen to the experts, including the police, about road traffic management. The accident rate on the A38 in South East Cornwall is terrifying. There have been a number of fatal accidents on the A39 Falmouth to Truro road. Speeding is the norm inside and outside urban areas – improvement in traffic management – reinstating cameras, improved policing.