Meet the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall Tony Hogg

PUBLISHED: 16:46 27 February 2013 | UPDATED: 19:51 05 April 2013

Tony on the hustings

Tony on the hustings

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg has now set his sights on making Cornwall and Devon the safest place in the UK, as he tells Carol Burns

Meet the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall Tony Hogg

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg has now set his sights on making Cornwall and Devon the safest place in the UK, as he tells Carol Burns

At first glance at the CV of Devon and Cornwalls first Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg, it is easy to see how he came to succeed to the role. A Falklands War veteran with more than three decades in the Royal Navy serving his country, time spent working with a charity committed to young people excluded from school and a seven-year flirtation with the private sector as their point man with the MOD makes him ideal for public service.

Brought up in a military family, Commodore Hogg lived all over the world including the US and Malta in what he describes as a relatively privileged background. After failing to get enough A Levels for university, he decided he wanted to get on with life and began his naval career in 1967.

I have an instinctive love of the sea that was part of my psyche and I needed to be close to the water, says the father-of-two. I had a magical naval career that is difficult to repeat these days. I wanted to command a naval ship and fly helicopters and the navy allowed me to do a lot of both. I flew helicopters in the cold war and from HMS Hermes in the Falklands.

He also flew search and rescue missions, earning an Air Force Cross for his role in rescuing the crew of the Ben Asdale trawler off Falmouth in the late 1970s and was commanding officer of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose near Helston, Cornwall. He retired in 2000.

Although he received almost twice as many votes as his nearest rival in the elections for Police Commissioner in November last year, turnout was just 14.9 per cent. During his self-funded (almost) year of campaigning, Tony clocked up more than 10,000 miles.

There were two key issues as I approached the election, he says. One was the lack of information and I dont think the government did very well on that element and could have done better. Secondly, that people were wary about bringing politics into the role.

I have spent a lot of my life taking on different challenges. People ask me if I am enjoying the job and I say I am enjoying the challenge of it. The job is demanding, I am not trained as a police officer. The job has entailed a lot of briefing and a lot of listening and standing up in front of audiences and being accountable it is tough at times. But I am used to that. There is a certain sense of achievement and even exhilaration in trying to get that right.

Tony hopes to silence the critics by results. Within a few weeks of taking on the role he was reporting 1 million savings from suppliers by working with four other forces and he believes there is more to be saved.

This cash saving will help him arrest the dwindling numbers of police officers Devon and Cornwall Police numbers are set to reduce from 3,500 to around 2,800 by 2015. I feel 2,800 is a step too far, he says. If we can keep it to 3,000 we have a reasonable chance of being able to place the area effectively.

More special constables are also part of his plans, along with closer relationships with community bodies which can do their part in helping to reduce crime and fear of crime by investing in diversion activities, such as skate parks. It needs to be a community approach thats not a closet Big Society political line, thats what I believe.

A strong interest in young people comes in part from his first-hand experience with Falmouth-based BF Adventure a charity working with young offenders and children excluded from school. I had a really delightful five years working with young people often from very troubled backgrounds and I was privileged to work with the team at BF who everyday impact and turnaround the lives of young people who would otherwise or who had already fallen into a life of crime. The talent and commitment I saw there of youth workers made a huge impact on me.

Young people face many challenges from bulling, materialism to very chaotic family and intergenerational backgrounds. We are seeing only the tip of domestic violence. Nationally 750,000 children witness domestic violence every year and that then breeds the same behaviour in them. We need to recognise where we need to take a different approach. These young people are at a really difficult stage of transforming into adults and throwing them into prison should be a last resort.

If a young person stabs someone else they will be arrested and have to face the criminal justice system but there are many cases where young people really need to be treated in different ways that prevents re-offending and ultimately saves resources in police time.

Alongside developing his priorities, an important early task was also to appoint the new chief constable. He chose Acting Chief Constable Sean Sawyer. It was a clear choice, he says. He performed at interview extremely well right across the capabilities. Devon and Cornwall Police face some very significant challenges and it was important to establish leadership as soon as possible. We have already developed a very good working relationship and I respect the skills that he brings to the job. I understand the issues that he faces and I am ready to hold him to account.

I am not going to defend the police all of the time. The police are very hot down here on integrity and we are very lucky one of my top priorities is to maintain that name.

So how will he measure his success? The simple answer is by results: cutting crime, reducing the fear of crime, upholding local views, supporting victims and communicating better with the public. New performance measurement methods are being developed to make sure we measure the things we want to measure.

At the end of the day the most important thing is to create an environment where lives can flourish and people are not afraid of crime in their area. The vision is to make Devon and Cornwall the safest place to live in the UK, he says. There is a job to be done here and I will do it to the best of my ability and people will have their say as to whether they are satisfied or not. Its a very big challenge and I am giving it my all.

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