Jas Parmar is the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Bedfordshire police and crime commissioner election taking place in May next year.
The former Metropolitan Police Officer and Bedford Borough councillor has lived in rural Bedfordshire for over 33 years. He has run several businesses and currently runs a Post Office in Kempston.
Although he is the Liberal Democrat candidate, Jas doesn’t think that the role of a police and crime commissioner (PCC) has anything to do with which party they represent. He said:
“I don’t think we should put too much emphasis on which party the candidate represents.
“What we should be thinking about is what exactly is a new PCC going to do and what qualities will that person bring to the role.”
He added that unfortunately, many people do not know what the role of a PCC is.
“The fault for this probably lies with the system and maybe with the politicians. We have not gone out to the public to explain what PCCs are.”
“What I’m going to bring to the role of Bedfordshire’s PCC is that I’m going to engage with the public, I’m going to bring the public closer to the police.
“A PCC should be the voice of the people, my experience of running public facing businesses, such as my post office, means that I have the skills to understand the needs of all the communities that make up Bedfordshire.
“PCCs are the voice of the public and they can only be this voice if they engage with the public.”
One of the qualities Jas thinks that he will bring if elected as the PCC is his experience in community policing. He worked in community policing while with the Met Police, and for the last four years he has been a volunteer for the Independent Advisory Group to Bedfordshire Police. He said:
“We [the advisory group] are not there just to criticise, we are there to support the police to make sure that they are supporting the community as well as they should.”
As well as engaging with Bedfordshire’s residents to make the communities safer, Jas plans to adopt a multi-agency approach to prevent and reduce crime.
Jas was a non-executive director of East London Foundation Trust (ELFT). This Trust covers mental health issues in Luton and Bedfordshire. He said:
“This role made me aware of the mental health issues we face here in Bedfordshire. Mental health and policing are interlinked in many ways. Twenty percent of all the work the police does involves some element of mental health.
“So, the last thing I want is a police officer to come across somebody with mental health issues but without the training to deal with the situation.”
“I want to see more street triage nurses working with the police 24/7. I also want to see people with mental health training in the call centre who can deal with issues that are deemed to be mental health related.”
With the COVID pandemic costing the UK billions of pounds, it could mean that there could be spending cuts next year. So how will Jas find the funding for mental health programmes? Jas said:
“Would you rather spend money to make sure that we are preventing crime or would you rather spend money, three or four times more to mop up the issues that you could have dealt with cheaper first time around?
“Bedfordshire Police has been working in collaboration with East London Foundation Trust for the last 4 or 5 years. I want to see that cooperation extended and expanded because it not only helps the police it also helps the ELFT as well.
“It’s their job to ensure that they look after people who have mental health issues and the police’s role here is to support those organisations like ELFT.
“It is in the Trust’s interest, and that of Bedfordshire, that we make the money available and use it wisely within the remit of both organisations.
“Working together in collaboration that is the way forward and money does become available if the projects are right.
“It’s not how much money you spend, it’s how wisely you spend it is what matters.”
Jas admitted that a PCC is not going to change many things that the police does day to day as these are operational decisions.
“But PCCs will want to fight crime, they will want to reduce crime and they will want to protect victims. PCCs will want to do everything that the police force is supposed to be doing.”
More information about Jas’s campaign can be found on his Facebook page Jas Parmar 4 PCC.