INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE FOR TUNBRIDGE WELLS

GRAHAM NAISMITH

GRAHAM NAISMITH

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Crime and Policing

Education

Body Cameras

With continuing accusations of institutionalised racism and sexism being leveled at the police, we think it is more important than ever before to create a culture of police transparency. One of the methods by which we propose to achieve this by is ensuring that all front line officers, Specials and PCSOs wear body-cams as a matter of course.  Far from creating a “Big Brother” state this protects the people the police are being paid to protect whilst offering the police protection from false accusations.

People Police

Neighbourhood Watch started in our country as several groups of neighbours keeping their eyes open in the local area and then reporting  crime and suspicious occurrences to the police. We want to take this precedent and elevate it, creating a national online system, accessible by iPhones and android devices, for submitting details of anti-social behaviour, littering, poor driving and other less serious crimes. This will result in fixed penalty tickets and other fines being handed out and, where guilt is not admitted, people courts where these cases can be heard. A vast amount of crime goes unreported and an increasingly reduced police service have little resources to follow up on this level of crime and anti-social behaviour. This would be a significant step towards alleviating the burden on the police and the frustration of the public.

Reporting to the Public

The relationship between the police and the population needs to be one fostered on trust. Increasingly, when members of the public report cases to the police, they never receive a response from the police or are ever informed of the outcome. We propose a system whereby the police must inform, within a given period, the outcome of any report made to them by a member of the public. Currently there is a perception that contact with the police goes into a void and no action is taken. Although undoubtedly not the case, the perception is there and we would suggest it impacts heavily on the propensity of that member of the public to make contact again in the future.

 

Police Cutbacks

We totally oppose the extreme cutbacks that police forces around the country have been subjected to. Whilst advocating a more efficient use of resources and independent reviews of performance, the cuts have been down to the bare bones in many forces. The impact of these cuts may not be immediate but they will be dramatic. A fully resourced police service is at the cornerstone of any civilized society and cuts in the fashion that we’ve witnessed, is a false economy. There will be a price to pay unless we dramatically improve funding.

 

Police officers risk their lives for us and need the support of the people and the government. The rock bottom morale within the service is in no small part down to the lack of such support. We have the best police force in the world but, if the media is to be believed, it’s the worst.

Anti-Social Behaviour

 There is a large amount of actions that a minority of people take that affect others in a negative way but falls below what society appears willing to enforce. Middle and fast lane hogging, driving with fog lights on, taking up two parking spaces with one car, not letting people out of junctions and, worse still, blocking them are just a few. Spitting, swearing in front of children and putting shoes up on public seats fall squarely within this camp as well. These are acts undertaken by the ignorant, selfish or culturally unaware. As with anything, if there are no repercussions for failing to conform to socially acceptable behavior, there are those who will continue to act selfishly. But this behavior affects our lives and, in some cases, not insignificantly. These are the things that on a daily basis frustrate the majority and, if we aspire to be a fair society, need to be addressed.

With the “People Police” some of this will be tackled but there needs to be a focus on these areas by policing organisations. For example the deployment of speed cameras is something that should be as a last resort to a serious problem. And their presence needs to be reviewed in light of the risk they were deployed for. In many cases the resources used for police cameras could be focused instead on bad motorway driving habits that frustrate many and can result in death and serious injury.

Grammar Schools 

Being one of the few remaining constituencies that continue to have grammar schools, I am especially proud of our schooling system. I firmly stand behind selective grammar schools as a model and will fight for its expansion. I propose the creation of more grammar schools that successive Labour and Tory governments sought to abolish. Far from increasing the standards within the comprehensive system, it merely levelled it out whilst fueling the private educational system as those of wealthy stock flocked to private schools.

 

Eleven Plus 

The 11+ system that dictates entry to the few grammar schools that are left undoubtedly requires a complete over-haul. Three exams over two days to a large extent defines the future paths of many of the 10 year old children who take it. It’s as primitive a method of selection as it is unfair and it needs a wide reaching review. The current system of the wealthier being able to afford private tutoring is unfair and I would push for 11+ tutoring within state schools (in the same way it is permitted in independent schools) to make for a more level playing field. As it stands private tutoring for the 11+ is akin to drug taking in cycling during the Lance Armstrong era. Those that can, do it; those that can’t are severely disadvantaged.

Holidays 

I propose a system where the local education authority is granted considerable flexibility in fixing school calendar dates that will go some way to reducing the high demand and corresponding high prices that parents experience with the current rigid regime.  At the moment those in state schools are disadvantaged considerably with their narrower school holidays and, further, receive fiscal punishment when they do attempt to take term time holidays.

 

University Fees 

I believe that the current government’s £9,000 university fees are absurd. There should be no tax on aspiration especially not one that disproportionately discourages prospective students from lower socio-economic backgrounds from applying to university. One of the reasons for the increased number of applications for university places over the last 20 years is because it was seen as the only viable entry into the working world. The logical and fair response is not to financially burden students for years and years after graduation but to offer more apprenticeship schemes and paid work experience programs.

 

Private Education 

For parents who decide to place their children in private education, I believe there should be a system of tax relief. As the child in private education is not using state resources I think it is unnecessary for their parents to subsidise a sector they do not use.

Teachers 

When considering the hours that teachers put in and the increasing administrative overheads that they are burdened with, they surely rank as one of the most poorly paid professions in the public sector. They are responsible for our children, the foundation of our future, and their importance and contribution needs to be reflected in competitive salaries that attract top calibre graduate candidates.

Parenting 

Becoming a parent is arguably the most responsible thing a person ever has to do. Whilst driving a car, getting a job and even passing exams have a considerable level of scrutiny levelled at them, becoming a parent has none. Currently, prior to the birth, ad-hoc and differing levels of pre-birth support are provided that help with key elements of birth and the initial few weeks of babyhood but offer virtually nothing on parenting itself. For most their natural approach to parenting is a mirror of what they themselves received or, arguably, were subjected to. Where this hasn’t been good then it’s self perpetuating. Bad parents bring up children badly who then have children themselves  and so the cycle continues.

 

Good parenting is a skill that requires a vast amount of knowledge, ability and patience. I advocate a free system of parental classes that provide continuing post-birth advice and support around health, safety, discipline, nutrition, consideration and standards up to the age of 5.  In extreme cases, lack of attendance would be enforced by exclusion of child benefit.