‘I’ll take on government over cuts if I think we need cash’

From left, Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane with chief constable Olivia Pinkney, and Kate Brown, the chief crown prosecutor for the CPS in Wessex

Picture: Malcolm Wells (160611-5423)
From left, Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane with chief constable Olivia Pinkney, and Kate Brown, the chief crown prosecutor for the CPS in Wessex Picture: Malcolm Wells (160611-5423)
Picture: Highways England/Twitter

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THE new police and crime commissioner has said he will stand up for the area – even if that means taking on his own political party over cuts.

Michael Lane, the victorious Conservative candidate in last week’s election, spoke to The News yesterday ahead of taking office today.

The former naval commodore, from Gosport, praised the ‘excellent officers and staff’ in the force.

He suggested he could fight for more cash from the government – but also warned more cuts could be made too. And he said he would be looking into the current plan for a police hub that could replace Fratton and Portsmouth Central police stations.

He will be responsible for drawing up a police and crime plan and setting Hampshire Constabulary’s budget – which has been cut by £80m by April 2017.

Asked if he would be prepared to fight the Conservative government despite belonging to the same party, he said he would be ‘robust’ over any disagreements.

Mr Lane said: ‘My role and my oath is to serve all the people of Hampshire, to make them safer as police and crime commissioner, so that will be my focus.

‘The Home Secretary’s role is a national role, mine is this police area. We will have much in common and work together as anybody occupying two roles would have.

‘If at some point we need to disagree, I’ll have a robust conversation.’

He added: ‘I’m inheriting what’s here. My task is to make sure that the chief constable is empowered to be as effective and as efficient as possible within the resources that we have.

‘In due time if the resources are sufficient and we can make economies, I will.

‘And if the resources are insufficient and we need to fight for more resource, I will do that – but in the context of understanding exactly what it is that we can’t deliver effectively and why we need any increase in money.

‘My start point is to make sure we’re as effective and efficient as possible and I’ve empowered the chief constable to deliver operational policing to realise the true potential of our excellent officers and staff.’

Mr Lane’s stance on serving the public rather than his party won backing from John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman.

Mr Apter had clashed with Simon Hayes, Mr Lane’s predecessor who stood as an Independent in 2012 and 2016.

Mr Apter said: ‘Certainly in conversations I’ve had with Michael Lane he’s been very clear on that and it’s been consistent, which is reassuring.

‘He’s been consistent in saying his priority is not his political affiliation but the people of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

‘The role is a big role, it can’t be underestimated. The Police Federation have made it clear we want to have a constructive relationship.’

Mr Apter added Mr Hayes should be congratulated for his work on rehabilitation and preventing offending while in office and wished him well for the future.

Mr Lane said he would be listening to people soon and ‘updating and re-crafting’ the police and crime plan, setting out his strategic vision.

It is a formal document required to be drawn up by police and crime commissioners.

Under Mr Hayes, a major review of the force’s buildings was carried out. But a question mark was left over the future of Fratton and Portsmouth Central stations.

A new hub, called a police investigation centre, was due to take their place and a site has been found. They could still both be retained and refurbished – but it will be Mr Lane’s decision as to what happens.

He said: ‘We need to ensure that a footprint is effective, there’s a great deal of input that comes from the chief constable in presenting that and the arguments for where we should be. I know there’s a current and urgent issue to deal with in Portsmouth and that’s fairly near the top of my inbox. It’s certainly not on hold, there’s some good things in the estates plan.

‘There are occasions where you need to review unintentional consequences or to understand what is most effective.

‘My aim is not to stop everybody in their tracks.’

Yesterday at police training headquarters in Netley Mr Lane co-signed a memorandum of understanding aiming to stop children in care offending.

Chief constable Olivia Pinkney and Kate Brown, chief crown prosecutor for CPS Wessex, also signed up.

Mr Lane said: ‘This is a really good opportunity for the police and crime commissioner and the constabulary to be in partnership with others that have a key input to making these young people’s lives better, removing them from risk and giving them the opportunity of a fruitful life.

‘I’m really delighted to say: here’s something as a concentration, for our future young people here is a protection for removing people from a vulnerable environment, something that looks to a better future and also something very importantly that gives an indication I want to be in partnership with others and their roles, to complement the role.’

MR LANE’S BACKGROUND

A FORMER commodore in the Royal Navy, Michael Lane has held a number of public roles.

The father-of-two was a councillor on Gosport Borough Council for Rowner and Holbrook ward between 2010 and 2014, when he stepped down. He served as chairman of the Economic Development board at the council.

Mr Lane was a regeneration officer at Hampshire County Council, where he oversaw the £145m revamp of Rowner in Gosport, between 2005 to 2007. And as a commodore he won praise from the former First Sear Lord, Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh, who said Mr Lane had given ‘exceptional service’ and that he should be ‘justifiably proud’ of ‘many fine achievements’. He served between 1972 and 2002.

He has been a coach on the Commissioner’s Leadership Programme of the Metropolitan Police Service and briefly served on the Hampshire Police Strategic Independent Advisory Group. Mr Lane also worked in the Cabinet Office.

Countering extremism is ‘key issue’ for commissioner

ON DAY one in the job Michael Lane was not giving much away about his future strategy.

The new police and crime commissioner for Hampshire gave an interview to The News but said for areas such tackling extremism and the legal highs ban he would be speaking to the chief constable to find out what is needed.

Asked about extremism, he said: ‘It’s a key issue and it will be a priority for me to understand the national highest risk elements that we need to counter.’

He added: ‘There are national standards and we need to be as effective as we can.’

But he said officers worked behind the scenes without the ‘honour they deserved’ and he was determined to give them the right kit and motivation. He also refused to be drawn on whether or not he will continue to ring-fence the 334 PCSO posts across the county.

Mr Lane said: ‘I will take the advice from the chief constable about what delivers the most effective operational policing, and that’s the conversation that we’ll have.’

On enforcement of the legal highs ban, coming in on May 26, he said it was a ‘complex issue’ and could not answer on the subject.