A new police boss has pledged to serve all the people of North Wales without fear or favour – and to make tackling domestic violence a top priority.
Former police inspector Arfon Jones, the second ever North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, was speaking on his first official day in office (Thursday, May 12) after succeeding Winston Roddick in the job.
Standing as a Plaid Cymru candidate, he swept to victory with a massive majority of 25,364 votes.
According to Mr Jones, a member of Wrexham County Borough Council, it was one of the proudest days of his life to lead the force he served for 30 years, both in uniform and as a detective.
A native of Harlech in Gwynedd, he is married with two daughters and four grandchildren and lives in Gwersyllt, near Wrexham.
Mr Jones is now in charge of a budget of £147 million and is responsible for making sure the money is spent effectively to keep the people of North Wales safe and secure.
In doing so, he vowed to represent everybody in North Wales, regardless of their political affiliations.
He said: “It’s very important. I agreed 100 per cent with what Sadiq Khan said when he became Mayor of London, that he represented all the people of London. I think that is perfectly correct.
“I think all politicians should do that, no matter who has voted for you, you represent all your electorate without fear or favour. It’s part of being sworn in. I have promised to do this and I take my responsibilities seriously.
“I plan to consult widely about the policing priorities for North Wales to make sure we have a good idea of what it is that the people of North Wales want us to deliver over the next 12 months.
“Once I publish the plan I will then scrutinise the force and hold the chief officers to account to make sure that the plan is realised.”
One of the commissioner’s first priorities will be tackling the issue of domestic violence.
Mr Jones wants to extend the use of body worn video to all front line police officers in North Wales so that evidence of crimes can be captured as they happen.
A total of 128 video camera kits have already been deployed across North Wales and have proved a big success, particularly in relation to domestic violence.
Mr Jones said: “Domestic violence is a hideous crime and one I feel passionately about.
“The fact that seven victims of domestic violence are killed every month in England and Wales makes it an obvious priority.
“There’s an emotional cost, there’s a cost to society and there’s a financial cost and I think it’s a responsibility to us all to prioritise things of this nature.
“I would very much like to provide every front line officer in North Wales with a body worn video.
“I think that the evidence that is coming out from the use of body worn video is that the number of offenders who are arrested and charged and brought before the courts has increased.
“I would certainly encourage victims to come forward, either by reporting the matter directly to the police or by getting in touch with a partner agency.
“When people come forward to report such an offence, it’s often the case that it will have happened dozens of times previously.
“To be fair to my predecessor, Winston Roddick, he did a lot of work on this issue and I’m looking forward to carrying on this work and developing it further.”
Another priority for Mr Jones keeping children out of the criminal justice system to ensure they are not criminalised at a young age, blighting their future prospects.
One of the problems, he said, was the absence of a consistent approach in the way young justice services were delivered in different parts of North Wales.
I’ve been leading Children’s Services for Wrexham County Council with responsibility for Youth Justice which comes under the Ministry of Justice at Westminster.
“It is financed by the Welsh Government, the office of the Commissioner, North Wales Police, the probation service and the health board and it is all dealt with differently across the whole of North Wales.
“Responsibility for youth justice should be devolved to Wales because at the moment the way it works is that it’s like a postcode lottery and I think that children and young people deserve a better service.
“We should intervene earlier when the children are younger and break the cycle of crime before it happens.”
Chief Constable Mark Polin wished Mr Jones well in his new role.
He said “I would like to congratulate Mr Arfon Jones and welcome him as the new Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales.
“I look forward to working closely with him to deliver the Police and Crime Plan and ensuring North Wales remains a safe place to live, work and visit where vulnerable members of society are protected from harm.”