New commissioner will hold police to account

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For the first time, people will be asked to vote for local police commissioners later this year who will represent the views of the public when it comes to crime and community safety.

They will replace the existing police authorities, which are made up of panel members and were established in 1964 to hold police forces to account.

They are responsible for areas such as setting budgets and creating policing plans, responsibilities that will be transferred to elected individuals standing as police and crime commissioners.

The elections are said to be the biggest shake-up of policing in England and Wales for almost 50 years.

The role of the police commissioner in Northamptonshire will carry a salary of £70,000 plus expenses and an optional pension.

Elections will take place on November 15 and the successful candidate will take their post a week later. The first elected commissioner will serve for three-and-a-half years and subsequent commissioners will be elected every four years.

So who might the new police commissioner for Northamptonshire be?

Anyone can stand for election if they are 18 or over, live in the force area they wish to serve and are not a current public servant, such as a police officer.

A number of political parties are looking for candidates to stand on their behalf and some people will stand as independent candidates.

One candidate who plans to stand is John Norrie, who has worked as a management consultant for Northamptonshire Police and has served as an independent member of the police authority.

He will stand as an independent and says one of his priorities will be to protect neighbourhood policing.

Also thought to be standing as a Labour candidate is Mike Caseman-Jones, a Territorial Army officer and former firearms officer in the police.

Voting will be by the supplementary vote system, which is the system used in the London mayoral elections.

Under the supplementary vote system, people are asked to give first and second preferences. If one candidate receives at least 50 per cent of the first preference votes, they are elected.

If no candidate has 50 per cent of the first preference votes, the two candidates with the highest number of first preference votes go forward to a second round.

In the second round, the second choice votes are also counted and the person with the most number of votes will win.

Whoever is elected will be working very closely with the Chief Constable Adrian Lee, who told the Evening Telegraph last week that one of the first issues he will be talking to the new commissioner about is an increase in the police’s council tax precept.

Mr Lee hopes this will enable the force to avoid cutting the 100 police officer and 25 police community support officer jobs that were at risk due to budget cuts totalling £12m over the next four years.

He said: “My personal view is it is very important that the commissioner is a success.

“If we work well together that is for the greater good of the county.

“They will have their own views about their priorities but I trust they will put into practice what they think is right for the public.”

The new police commissioner will have to prepare a police and crime plan, setting out their policing and community safety objectives and priorities for the following four years.

They will also be required to appoint a chief executive who will employ administrative staff and have a monitoring role to ensure standards are upheld, and a chief finance officer to advise them on financial matters and the impact of spending decisions.

The Northamptonshire Police Authority has established a transition board to ensure the handover to the new commissioner goes smoothly.

What do you think?

Will the introduction of police commissioners improve crime and community safety in Northamptonshire?

Who would you like to see elected as Northamptonshire’s first police and crime commissioner?

Post your comments below.