New post will set priorities for police force
IT is a powerful but controversial new post. And this week eight candidates will stand in elections to become the first ever crime commissioner for Devon and Cornwall.
The role will replace the current police authority and it is up to voters across Devon and Cornwall to decide who takes on the new £85,000 a year job.
The new commissioner will set policing strategy and the budget for the force.
The chief constable will remain in charge of day-to-day policing.
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The creation of the post has been met with some criticism, with fears over a possible politicisation of the police service and the £75m cost of the elections nationwide.
There have also been concerns over the possibility of low voter turnout at the polls on Thursday.
The Electoral Reform Society has previously said the elections would be a "complete shambles" and warned fewer than one in five voters could turn out.
Ten candidates have announced they will fight for the post in Devon and Cornwall.
Candidates include a former military commander and two former chairmen of the authority (see below).
In all, there will be 1,375 polling stations across Devon and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly staffed by approximately 3,849 people.
The Home Office has overall responsibility for the elections, which are being held using the supplementary vote system.
If no candidate has 50 per cent of the first preference votes, the two highest ranked candidates go forward to a second round.
In the second round of counting, the ballots indicating a first preference for a candidate that lost the first round are then re-allocated according to the second preference indicated in the ballot paper. The ballot has been fully explained in an Electoral Commission booklet which was sent to every household.
For more information on the elections, which are taking place around the country, visit www.homeoffice.gov.uk/police/police-crime-commissioners/public.
Bob Smith, 60, UKIP: Mr Smith, who lives near Penzance, is a psychologist who is married with four children. He has described the new post as “an exciting opportunity to develop an effective and transparent partnership between the police and the community”. He supports “a strong, visible and responsive police force”. He said he was determined to reconnect the police with the people.
Graham Calderwood, 67, Independent: A duty solicitor for 40 years, Mr Calderwood, who lives near St Ives, decided to stand as an independent as “there should be no role for politics in this position”. Mr Calderwood said he was keen to “keep our bobbies on the beat rather than tie them up for long periods in the custody centres”. Tackling drug abuse would be one of his priorities.
Brian Blake, 65, Lib Dem. The former detective chief inspector, from South Devon, served with Devon & Cornwall Police for 31 years. Now retired, he also worked in personnel vetting for the Ministry of Defence. Mr Blake said he favoured a return to “bobbies on the beat”, and an emphasis on partnership working to reduce crime. He said the role was about representing “all people in Devon and Cornwall”.
Tam Macpherson, 41, Independent. The former Royal Marine and well-known Plymouth businessman has proposed a radical plan to give Devon and Cornwall separate police forces. He believes two separate forces would improve policing in an area with one of the biggest rural communities in the UK. Mr Macpherson said a balance of “transparency and scrutiny” would help improve the service.
He said: “I am a strong supporter of the police, but I have also been a victim and have been left with the perception that red tape can often stifle good policing.
“I will be the voice of the resident, business and visitor, the victim and the witness; not the political party.
“The future of our police service and justice system should not be decided on the crack of a partisan whip or the colour of a party rosette.”
William Morris, 62, Independent. A former farmer, Mr Morris, from Penzance, has worked in the mining industry and heads a charity which works towards conflict resolution in the Middle East. His interest in crime prevention developed during the ten years he lived and worked in South Wales and volunteered as a prison visitor at Swansea jail. Mr Morris said he was “acutely aware of the problems of the South West” and “social deprivation is a key cause of crime”. He would introduce zero-tolerance policing in areas where violence is an issue.
Brian Greenslade, 63, Independent. The Lib Dem leader of North Devon Council chose to stand as an independent after opposing Government legislation introducing the commissioner, mainly on the grounds of the politicisation of the police service. Councillor Greenslade is a former leader of Devon County Council and a former chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority.
He said he would look for “every affordable opportunity” to avoid further cuts to police officer numbers.
“I think my experience of policing and crime issues is really quite strong. My top priorities include making a clear commitment to continue funding our PCSOs, rebuilding the cuts in officer numbers once that is sustainable and working with partners in the voluntary sector.”
Tony Hogg, 63, Conservative. A former commanding officer of RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, the Falklands war veteran from Helston oversaw 3,000 personnel and an annual budget of £80m. He has also been the chief executive of BF Adventure, a Cornish charity which uses outdoor pursuits to help turn around the lives of young people. He said he could show strong leadership at a time of change.
John Smith, 70, Independent. A former Lib Dem, Mr Smith has served as deputy leader of Devon County Council and as chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority. He has also been a board member of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Service. Mr Smith, from Teignmouth, said he would campaign to have budgets increased, protect personnel and make efficiency savings.
He would also look for what “further efficiencies could be achieved with more regional, inter-force cooperation and local council partnerships”.
“I’m very keen that we stop people reoffending and that is all to do with how people perceive themselves,” he said.
“I also want to support the police – it doesn’t serve us well if we have a police force that feels demoralised.”
Ivan Jordan, 39, Independent. Architect and farmer Ivan Jordan, from Exeter, said he would “focus on prevention, prevention, prevention”. He said he wanted to use the police to attack the root causes of crime: addiction; poor mental health and low education. Mr Jordan has said driving down reoffending rates and addressing addiction and mental health issues would “stop a huge drain on resources”.
Nicky Williams, 41, Labour. Cabinet member for children and young people on Plymouth City Council, Nicky Williams has a degree in social policy and criminology, and has been closely involved with neighbourhood-led policing in the Honicknowle ward. She said she would “lobby Government and challenge some of the cuts which are going to be imposed” on the force, adding “it’s about prioritising and listening to people”. She said: “I have five key pledges: to oppose the police cuts and challenge the Government budget; keep police on the beat by opposing creeping privatisation; tackle antisocial behaviour and aim to have non emergency victims responded to within 24 hours; work in partnership with the voluntary sector and focus on early intervention and I’m committed to protecting the operational independence of the chief constable.”