SCORES of volunteers from Neighbourhood Watch groups across Portsmouth packed Buckland Community Centre to meet the new Police and Crime Commissioner.
Simon Hayes addressed the Portsmouth Neighbourhood Watch AGM last night and came in for some criticism from one disgruntled member who asked the commissioner to justify his £80,000 salary.
Mr Hayes said his job replaced that of 17 members of the Police Authority – which cost taxpayers £260,000 a year.
He added: ‘In my role I have to work with police, local authorities, education authorities and social services and deliver the policing plan in order to reduce offending and re-offending.
‘There was no one individual on the Police Authority who would do all that, who was the point of contact. You have to judge whether I’m successful or not, and I hope I will be.’
It prompted a round of applause from volunteers.
They gave Mr Hayes a clear idea of what they believe his top priorities should be.
That included tackling anti-social behaviour, trying to stop cyclists riding on pavements and making sure police take seriously all complaints.
Councillor Luke Stubbs, who represents Craneswater and Eastney, asked the commissioner why, when calling the 101 non-emergency number, callers were asked their racial group.
He added: ‘I get quite offended by that. Why do they ask?’
Mr Hayes replied: ‘People have objected to that.
‘We’re looking into whether that is absolutely necessary.
‘We’re asked by the Home Office to return those statistics and I don’t know what will happen if we don’t do that.
‘It may appear as if we are being non co-operative.’
There was a lot of anger around cyclists riding on pavements in the city but Mr Hayes said it was not a top priority.
Cllr Stubbs said: ‘I get more complaints about cycling than any other issue.
‘I appreciate it’s not up there with murder but something needs to be done.’
Mr Hayes said if officers were to focus on cyclists it would take them away from something else but he would take it up with the chief inspector.
Of the meeting, he said: ‘Neighbourhood Watch is a very important community scheme which illustrates the community helping themselves and supporting themselves to prevent crime.’