A new police boss has pledged to pull out all the stops to combat the growing tide of online crime.
Tech savvy Andy Dunbobbin, 46, was speaking this week (Thursday, May 13) on his first official day in office as North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner after succeeding Arfon Jones in the job.
Standing for Labour, father-of-two Mr Dunbobbin said that winning the election was one of the proudest moments of his life and he vowed to represent everyone in North Wales, regardless of their political affiliations.
A native of Connah’s Quay in Flintshire, he is the son and grandson of steelworkers whose family was hit hard when in 1980 British Steel axed 6,500 jobs at Shotton Steel.
It‘s still the biggest industrial redundancy on a single day in Western Europe and the cataclysmic economic and social blow and the decades of deprivation it caused in Deeside forged his values and his view of the world.
But it was another family crisis, he said, that inspired him to dedicate himself to the idea of public service.
He and his wife, Louise, took in four other children as kinship carers and overnight they became a family of eight.
The support they received at the time persuaded Mr Dunbobbin that he wanted to be in a position to do practical things to help other people and in 2013 he was elected to Flintshire County Council.
His greatest professional claim to fame so far is that he played a role in ensuring that the 2012 London Olympics was successfully beamed across the world to an audience measured in billions.
At the time he was working as a technical team leader for a local network company and was responsible for carrying out rigorous checks on the vast array of technology used by the outside broadcast units at the Olympic Games, the biggest sporting event in the world.
Fast forward to 2021 and he says the chance to stand for election as the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.
He said: “I am passionate about the idea of public service because a lot of things have happened in my life and I want to serve the people of North Wales.
“Where there’s a challenge, I will always step up to the plate. There have been things in my life – like being a kinship carer for and going from a family four to being a family of eight overnight – that have demonstrated my commitment to doing the right thing.
“When there’s a challenge, I will always step up to the plate. I am rooted in the community and I want to make a positive difference in people’s lives, learning from each other and working together so that we all benefit.
“The reason I wanted to stand to become the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner is because I know how important it is to keep families and communities safe. It really matters to people how safe and secure they are.
“There is so much influence this role can have in improving our can improve our communities.
“My manifesto is going to be like my blueprint for the next three years to provide the strategic direction of North Wales Police and that’s what I am going to be measured against.
“Crime does not just happen on the streets any more, it also happens online and that is a massive challenge for the police.
“Online crime manifests itself in so many different ways, ranging from fraud to sexual exploitation and hate crime.
“The criminals are becoming more sophisticated by the day and it is vital that the police also continue to be more tech savvy.
“Because of my background, I am used to using really sophisticated software packages and equipment.
“We have to invest to make sure that North Wales Police has the most up-to-date technology available to them to combat online criminals. We want to future proof the force’s technology and ensure greater value for money.
“I believe my knowledge and expertise in this area will be a real strength.
“On the ground, I want to improve the visibility of North Wales Police because we all know that prevention is better than cure – a police presence provides reassurance to people.
“The Welsh Government has committed to increasing the number of PCSOs in Wales from 500 to 600. I will be having conversations to make sure that North Wales gets its fair share.
“Something else I feel strongly about is investing in victim services, including setting up a victims’ panel. I want to give victims a voice to give an opportunity to victims and survivors to tell us what can be done better.
“North Wales Police is recognised throughout the UK for the significant improvements they have made in terms of rural policing and this is something I want to build on.
“Although I live in a largely urban area, I am committed to providing the best possible policing service for the whole of North Wales, including rural areas.”
Mr Dunbobbin also wanted to pay tribute to his predecessor, Arfon Jones, who has retired.
He said: “Arfon needs to be congratulated on the work he has achieved, particularly over the past year during the pandemic which has caused unprecedented challenges for the force.”
Stephen Hughes, the Chief Executive of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “On behalf of the team, I would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Andy on winning the election to become the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.
“We look forward to supporting him to draft a new Police and Crime Plan to outline the strategic priorities of North Wales Police and to scrutinise the force to ensure that these objectives are carried out to make North Wales an even safer place to live and work.”