New Notts Crime Commissioner criticised for communications tactics and low attendance at public events

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry has faced criticism from a panel of councillors over her communications tactics and public engagement events which attracted low attendance.

Mrs Henry (Con) was questioned over the way she engages with the public at a Police and Crime Panel meeting on Monday, November 15.

Cllr Kevin Greaves (Lab), from Bassetlaw District Council, told the panel: “Our focus should be tackling crime, but the new police and crime commissioner seems to be followed around at public events by a camera crew to create glossy, self-promotional videos.

“In the interest of value for money I propose a specific report at the next meeting to consider how much of taxpayers money is spent on spin.”

Mrs Henry defended the attack saying: “I want to be very visible. I call it community engagement not publicity because that is what I am here to do.”

Cllr Richard MacRae (Independent), from Stapleford Town Council and Broxtowe Borough Council, also asked about the number of residents the commissioner had engaged with before launching her crime plan.

Public events held across Mansfield, Ashfield, Broxtowe, Bassetlaw and Nottingham, were used to guide her plan.

The plan determines where money will be spent over the next four years to tackle crime and to find out what issues are affecting communities.

She said around 12,500 people had viewed her online public consultation events, but added: “I have rejigged how I have done stuff since I started. I put on my own events, livestreamed it to, and not that many people came, whether that is Covid or rainy nights.

“I will continue to experiment, and do as many events as I can, and I will do it carefully to make sure we engage.”

Cllr MacRae then asked: “How many of those people have actively participated in the consultation, not just engaged through clicks, views, shares and likes?”

She said there were 1,400 responses to her public survey, but there had also been focus groups as well.

Mrs Henry said she is now attending pre-organised events such as a machine show in Newark in order to better engage with the public.

Cllr Helen Ann Smith (Ashfield Independents), mentioned how no residents  had attended a public event in Kirkby-in-Ashfield paid for by Mrs Henry’s office.

“It was extremely disappointing,” she said. “What lessons have been learned? Do you feel you have met your statutory obligation to consult in Ashfield or could you hold it again at some point?”

Mrs Henry said people had watched the event online and she had learned from organising it.

By Matt Jarram

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