Next Thursday (15th), the country goes to the polls for the first elections to choose local Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs).
Information leaflets have been sent to every home; radio and TV adverts have been running for weeks; polling cards and postal votes have been sent out. Now all that’s left is for each one of us to vote for who we think is the best person to ensure that the policing needs of our communities are met.
PCCs won’t ‘run’ the police force – Chief Constables, who are, after all, the professionals, will continue to be responsible for operational policing. The big change will be that, rather than the current situation where Chief Constables look like they’re accountable only to Whitehall, they will instead be accountable, through PCCs, to local residents.
PCCs will be a voice for local residents. They’ll lead the fight against local crime; they’ll set the direction and the budget for policing and they’ll consult the public, including those who are vulnerable and those who are already the victims of crime. They’ll also work with councils and other organisations and will ensure that public priorities are acted upon – in a way that is value for money.
The candidates for Sussex have featured in the pages of the County Times over recent weeks. There are party political candidates, including the excellent Katy Bourne, but there are also several independents running.
Irrespective of who wins, the PCC will be totally impartial. They’ll be required to swear an oath, reinforcing the fact that they stand for all local people.
So, they’re accountable to us, local residents. Ultimately, we’ll be able to vote them out come the next elections. Police and Crime Panels will also be established to assess and check the performance of each PCC.
Panels will look at whether PCCs have achieved what they set out to do, whether they have considered the priorities of community safety partners, the public and victims of crime. They’ll be able to make reports and recommendations and will have certain powers of veto, including over the PCC’s choice of Chief Constable.
So, PCCs will be important figures in our communities and it’s so important that as many people as possible vote. I cheekily hinted at the candidate I’ll be supporting but I really want to take this opportunity to urge readers to find out about all the candidates and their priorities and then vote – for whoever you favour. PCCs will be the voice of local people and that process starts with their election. To find out more go to: choosemypc.org.uk. Printed information can be ordered online or by calling 0800 1 070708.