Gloucestershire Police commissioner candidate: Jeanne Berry
In November Gloucestershire will elect its first police and crime commissioner. Reporter Laura Churchill interviews Jeanne Berry of the Badger Party:
SHE is standing for public office behind the mask of a badger.
But Jeanne Berry believes she has the skills to become the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire.
The Stroud cat lover said the police's attitude to the dangers of the badger cull was her motivation for standing. Spurred on to join the election race by police failing to reveal where and when badgers will be shot, Mrs Berry said her campaign was more about public safety and openness – and not just a publicity stunt.
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She said: "I want the police to be more involved and listen to people's concerns. I want everyone to know where the safe places in Gloucestershire are. From my current experience of the Police Authority I have no confidence in them and that is part of their mission.
"Members of the authority are currently gagged and I want that to change. We used to have police ring up and tell us about the crimes which happened in the area and that doesn't cost much, but does not happen anymore.
"My irritation with the police is that they are totally inaccessible and when you ask a question you get a long pleasant response, but it does not actually say anything. You try and talk to someone and there isn't even a number for the chief constable. We live in a call centre world and this needs to change."
Mrs Berry has no background in the criminal justice system or politics and believes this is an advantage for November's elections.
She said: "I don't believe you need to be well informed, but I have been a victim of crime and I have a grasp of what people want.
"As it stands it is going to be someone political that gets in, but I just want to be fair minded. I can work with most people and I want to give everyone a voice." The retired human resources professional isn't phased by the cuts which are being imposed on forces throughout the country.
She said: "I think we need to look at the efficiency of the force and there must be wastage along the way. You can always make savings through restructuring. I, like everyone else, cannot rule out redundancies, but I do not want to see cuts to frontline policing and PCSOs."
She described the badger mask she would only be photographed with as a symbol.
She said: "At the moment, I cannot see the police or what is going on in the police so the mask is a symbol.
"I think people are quite broad minded and will understand that my campaign is about public safety and what is currently policing ignorance – it is not about the shooting, but protecting us during it."
Name: Jeanne Berry
Age: No comment on the grounds of age discrimination
Occupation: Retired human resources professional
Political party: Badger
How long have you lived in Gloucestershire? 24 years
What are your three policing priorities?
1: To make the public's right to know a priority for the police.
2: To give those without a voice, both people and animals, support and protection.
3: To take only half the £65,000 salary and put the rest back into front line policing.
How will you save the force money? Taking half the salary for the post and by reviewing and revising the current force- wide efficiency programme. I will also invite ideas from staff across the force and from the public.
Will you make cuts to front line policing? No.
Will you consider putting the council tax precept up to avoid cuts? Not beyond inflation (CPI).
Will you shut down any more police stations? When did you last say "I'm just off to my local police station?" Operationally my focus will be on response times and improving clear-up rates.
Will you fund PCSOs in the future if government don't? They have a very useful role to play and this must be a potential option but decisions would need to be based on police intelligence I'm not currently party to.