Sultan Alam is an independent candidate in the forthcoming election for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) of Cleveland Police. The problem is very few people are aware of the election and this has raised many questions for a Police Service labelled as the worst in England and Wales.
‘Something is rotten in the force’ was the phrase used to describe Cleveland Police in February 2016, by Government Minister James Wharton MP for Stockton South.
Sultan Alam believes it will be difficult to improve Cleveland Police without increased public knowledge of the election on May 5th.
The vast majority of people on Teesside are not aware of an election for a new PCC in less than five weeks, despite reports of corruption within Cleveland Police continuously making the headlines.
On Friday 1st April 2016, The Northern Echo featured a six-page special report, which raised questions around current PCC Barry Coppinger’s connection with former members of the Police Authority and allegations of corruption and failure to investigate an allegation of historic sex abuse.
Sultan said: “Cleveland Police has lost the confidence of the public it serves and while this is down to a minority, direction from the current PCC and accountability are non-existent.
“The vast majority of officers within Cleveland Police are hard working public servants and many of those I speak to, are just as disillusioned, as the public.
“We need a change in leadership, a PCC independent of party politics and someone not connected with the previous regime, to ensure a clean bill of health.
“My concern is that if people are not aware of the election, we cannot have an open debate, nor a proper democratic process in which members of the public, who would wish to vote, are able to do so.”
The allusion by Mr Alam is supported by an element of logic. If less people are aware of the election and therefore less people vote, Barry Coppinger, the current PCC, and Labour’s candidate could rely on re-election via its party faithful.
Cleveland Police has spent millions of pounds of public funding on payouts and investigations. Operation Sacristy cost the taxpayer £4.7m alone and involved the arrest of nine high profile figures within Cleveland Police, including former Chief Constable Sean Price and former Chairman of Cleveland Police Authority Dave McLuckie, who was also a close colleague of current PCC Barry Coppinger.
At the time of Mr McLuckie’s resignation, in 2011, as Chairman of Cleveland Police Authority and despite the strong allegations of corruption and alleged cover up of a sex abuse allegation against Mr McLuckie, Barry Coppinger, who at the time was a Police Authority member, reacted angrily to his long-time colleague’s fall from grace.
Barry Coppinger is quoted at the time as saying “I’m absolutely furious that Dave McLuckie, Cleveland Police Authority’s most successful chairman has tendered his resignation.”
It has also been reported that while in the position of Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr Coppinger received private letters from disgraced former Chief Constable Sean Price who was subject of a legal bid by Mr Coppinger to recover £464,000.
Court papers show an extensive amount of work was done in preparing this legal approach, but a year on from the letter sent in December 2013 and only days after senior officers and the PCC held a meeting to discuss Mr Prices alleged failure to investigate an allegation of sexual abuse against the former chairman of Cleveland Police Authority, Mr Coppinger agreed to settle out of court, in December 2014 for just £23,000.
Under Mr Coppinger, Cleveland Police is one of the worst performing police service in England and Wales, which was identified by a report carried out by HM Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC).
Sultan Alam believes the role should not be party political and that not even Mr Coppinger’s Labour Party supporters can find justification in voting for him to serve a second term in office.
Mr Alam added: “I am surprised to see Barry Coppinger standing for a second term in office, especially with the force in such turmoil. I urge his Labour supporters to put aside party politics, as the public deserve better and Mr Coppinger has failed us all.
“The vote should not be about Labour, Conservative or any other party. It should be a vote for ‘who’ is best to bring about positive change to Cleveland Police.
“I know I can turn our police service around into one we can all begin to have confidence in and I hope to persuade the great people of Teesside to turn up and vote on May 5 to help bring about positive change. With their support at the ballot box we will deliver “better policing for a safer Cleveland””
HMIC concluded in a report, released in February 2016, that Cleveland Police is a “ cause for concern” at safeguarding vulnerable victims and “requires improvement” at preventing crime. It branded the force as ‘requiring improvement’ overall.
HMIC also found that in Cleveland, reported crime, victim-based crime, sexual offences, assaults and violent crime is on the rise.
The election for Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Police will take place on May 5th and involves residents of Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton on Tees.
Further information on Sultan Alam and his policies can be found at www.sultanalam.co.uk or by visiting his facebook page: Sultan Alam For PCC