SPECIAL REPORT: We meet the Police and Crime Commissioner candidates for Northamptonshire
It is now less than one month until people in Northamptonshire will be able to vote in the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election.
The first ever PCC election, held in November 2012, was won by Conservative candidate Adam Simmonds, who received just under 41,000 votes. The overall voter turnout in the county was 19.5 per cent.
Mr Simmonds has announced he is not standing again and there are currently three candidates to replace him; Stephen Mold (Conservative), Kevin McKeever (Labour) and Sam Watts (UKIP). Any other prospective candidates have until 4pm today (Thursday) to submit their nomination papers.
The election will be held on Thursday, May 5 and the successful candidate will serve a four-year term.
PCCs are elected to hold the police to account and aim to bring a public voice to policing.
Commissioners have the power to set police and crime plans, influence the spending of the police budget and appoint or dismiss the Chief Constable.
PCCs are required to swear an oath of impartiality when they are elected to Office, ensuring they work to serve the people, not a political party or any one section of their electorate.
Since taking office Mr Simmonds has made a number of changes to Northamptonshire Police including appointing a new Chief Constable.
Mr Simmonds has also set up a new service for victims of crime called Voice and accelerated the combined working between the police and the fire service.
In the past month, Mr Simmonds has also agreed the sale of the force’s Wootton Hall headquarters to the Education Funding Agency (EFA), to make room for a new ‘all-through’ school to be built on the site, opening this September.
UKIP man wants ‘feet on the beat’
The only former policeman in the pack, Sam Watts, for UKIP comes to the election battle armed with one main promise - to put more “feet on the beat.”
But the 36-year-old is keen to show that claim is more than just a soundbite, when almost every candidate across the country is chanting a similar mantra.
He says he will cut spending to his own PCC office “to the bone,” and claims he will take a reduced salary to pay for more Bobbies.
He also proposes a radical solution to offer paid-for training by police officers to the private security sector in order to generate revenue for the force.
He said: “The difference be ween me and the other candidates is that I believe I have a practical solution to putting feet on the beat - it’s not just a soundbite.”
Mr Watts, a current Burton Latimer town councillor, also has experience as an officer in the Metropolitan Police and as a security guard in Corby.
But he says his promise is to remove politics from policing - which he considers would be a move away from the reign of current commissioner Adam Simmonds.
A cornerstone of his candidacy is to hold public consultations on major decisions.
He said: “Of the many things Adam Simmonds has done and signed off on, I do not believe the people of Northamptonshire were put first.
“There was the merger of police and fire services and the decision to sell Wootton Hall, which in my view followed a political mandate.
“I will work for the people. If the people do not want a policy I am putting forward, it will not go ahead.”
Mr Watts has chosen a prominent campaigner against Adam Simmonds as his deputy running mate.
Justin Brown, a policeman of more than 20 years, had initially pledged to run as an independent candidate.
Tory hopeful says he wants ‘a return to common sense policing’ in the county
The Conservatives candidate for the upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections is local businessman Stephen Mold.
Mr Mold, a father-of-three who lives in Hartwell and runs an international mothering and baby business based in Northampton, has pledged to maintain police numbers with the ambition of increasing them.
His priorities include a zero tolerance approach to domestic violence, clamping down on burglary, increasing the safety of children, as well as pledging to tackle alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour and rural crime.
Mr Mold said: ‘I am looking forward to meeting many more people during the campaign. I have been listening to the views of local people and what they would like to see in a Commissioner and how they see the police force over the coming years.
“I look forward to working with our hard working and dedicated Police to serve the people of Northamptonshire. I want to reduce the burden on these officers and see a return to more common sense policing, I hope that people will support me in this.’
Mr Mold recently met with Theresa May to discuss his priorities for the county if he was elected to the police and crime commissioner job on May 5.
He said: “The Police and Crime Commissioner is a vital role with real power, and it is important the Northamptonshire has a commissioner who can work with Government, spend wisely and produce fresh ideas to beat crime.”
Mr Mold, who is a member of South Northants Council, is also a school Governor of Hartwell Primary School.
Labour candidate wants to stop sale of force HQ
Labour’s candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner is Kevin McKeever, who stood as a parliamentary candidate in the Northampton South constituency last May.
Mr McKeever, who is a qualified lawyer, said he would bring back the Hate Crime Unit and would do “everything in his power” to halt the sale of Wootton Hall.
He said: “Just as the old Police Authority allowed councillors to oversee the work of the police, the role of Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) is vital in working with the public to set our policing priorities and then allowing our Chief Constable to get on with the job.
“I’ll cut the cost of the office PCC here in Northants. Out will go the legions of spinners and advisers and in will come more uniforms on our streets. Those extra officers will help to stem the tide of violent crime which has soared over the past four years.
“I’ll prioritise the protection of our county’s young people from exploitation, ensuring no stone is left unturned in ensuring the grooming scandals of recent years are not repeated in our county’s towns and villages.
“I’ll be a PCC who focuses solely on policing, criminal justice, victims and witness services, bringing back the Hate Crimes Unit to help those communities marginalised in recent years. I’ll do everything in my power to halt the sale of Wootton Hall, part of a ridiculous free school vanity project, and stop the closure of Kettering and Corby police stations.”