• Cuts fears prompt retired chief police officer to bid for Devon and Cornwall Crime Commissioner

    8th February 2016 | News | Claire
  • A former police chief is announcing today (Monday) that he will run for the office of Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner, over fears that government austerity measures are putting at risk the most vulnerable members of area’s population.

    Bob Spencer, who served in Merseyside and Devon and Cornwall police forces for over 30 years, retired in 2009 as Acting Assistant Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall.

    Bob’s campaign for the post of Police and Crime Commissioner is motivated by his deep concern over massive government cuts to both policing and adult social care budgets.

    The announcement comes as he resigns from his positions as Independent Chair of Devon County Council and Torbay Council’s Adult Safeguarding Boards.

    In his resignation letter to the councils, Bob says:  “We will, I fear, be facing a situation when services are reduced so significantly those most vulnerable are at risk of abuse on many levels. 

    “Ultimately neglect, poor care and criminal actions may lead to a serious incident or death…. “

    Speaking in support of his candidacy, Bob explained: “I will run as an Independent candidate because I firmly believe that only an independent commissioner can provide the necessary healthy rigour and challenge to both the local police force – and the government.”

    Bob, who would also like to see the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s costs reduce, added:  “Political independence is so important, particularly during this time of huge financial challenge.  In five years the force lost £51 million from budgets, around 500 officers and 500 support staff, putting huge pressure on remaining officers and policing priorities.

    “If I am fortunate enough to be elected I will be the voice of the people, not the mouthpiece of a political party.”

    An election manifesto will be launched shortly and a key focus will be on the provision of more frontline policing and the opposition of further cuts. 

    During his high profile police career, Bob Spencer was awarded commendations for crime detection, command of major investigations, undercover operations and arresting offenders.


    30 January 2016

    Dear Colleagues

    The time has come to submit my resignation for the post of Independent Chair of Torbay and Devon Safeguarding Adult Boards. I have held these posts since 2009 and 2013 respectively and am proud of what both Boards have achieved in keeping adults safe in Torbay and Devon.

    Much of what we have achieved has been based on the ability of all our constituent agencies to work together for the benefit of adults at risk. Since 2010 I have seen cut upon cut inflicted on the budget of these agencies that have tried to work within the ever-reducing financial framework.

    The situation has deteriorated to such an extent that I have serious concerns about our ability to deliver vital safeguarding services while facing year on year funding cuts. We will, I fear, be facing a situation when services are reduced so significantly that those most vulnerable are at risk of abuse on many levels. Ultimately neglect, poor care and criminal actions may lead to a serious incident or death. What happens now will impact on all of us in the future.

    I am not in a position to change the overall financial settlement put in place by the current government however I am aiming to be in a position to help make improvements in partnership working.

    To this end I have decided to stand for election as an Independent Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. If elected I will make partnership working, safeguarding and community safety the heart of my campaign.

    With another 4 years of funding cuts, Devon and Torbay partners will struggle to provide a safe service to the public.

    Local authorities, the police and health providers are at the centre of community safety and the safeguarding of all vulnerable people.

    Having witnessed at first hand the outcome of Central Government’s relentless budget reductions to our services, it is clear the most vulnerable people in our communities are hardest hit.

    I would like to express my appreciation and acknowledgement to all the volunteers and staff from many professions dedicated to the safeguarding of people at risk. I have had the privilege to hear the experiences of people and their families receiving services and appreciate their tireless fight to get the care they need.

    We will all have need for our public services at some point in our lives, whatever our circumstances, we should not have to fear neglect and abuse either in our own home or anywhere else.

    While the individual tragedies make the news coverage, I have seen the reality of caring, professional people, giving of their best in challenging circumstances.

    I can give no higher acknowledgement to the work of partnership agencies, than to stand for election as a politically independent Police and Crime Commissioner. If elected to this role, I will drive and develop community safety for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

    Bob Spencer

    Photo:  Bob as Assistant Chief Constable with Devon and Cornwall Police