Time to decide who you want as Warwickshire’s first police commissioner

NOVEMBER 15 will mark one of the biggest changes in British policing since the early 1960s.

Police authorities - groups of councillors, a magistrate and independents who are responsible for overseeing every force - will be replaced by a single police and crime commissioner, voted for by the public.

Using the same system as in the London Mayoral elections, every voter will be able to shoose a first and second choice, with second choices counted if there is no clear majority after first are added up.

Whoever is elected will have the power to appoint and fire the chief constable and will have to implement a crime plan, set policing priorities, reporting annually on progress, and set the force budget and community safety grants.

Two of the candidates are from political parties, one is independent. Each has their own view of how to tackle crime and disorder over the next four years. Here, each one of them makes their pitch.

Ron Ball, Independent

I resigned three years early from my job flying 747s in order to stand in this election. I’ve been a magistrate, a school governor and a member of the National Executive for the British Airline Pilots Association. You will find my manifesto on my website www.ronball4pcc.co.uk together with generous endorsements from people from all of my previous activities. For those not on the web my phone number is 01789 491524.

I vowed from the outset of my campaign to resist the temptation to offer the earth, and to only promise what I know I can deliver and what is affordable. My programme is about your safety and security and freedom from crime and antisocial behaviour. Hence:-

1. A further reduction of officers is neither necessary nor acceptable. Increasing the strength by employing Special Constables is affordable and can make a significant contribution.

2. I will strengthen local policing so that you know your local officer and they know their patch (including local offenders).

3. I will set up formal direct communication links with the business, rural and ethnic minority communities. I would like to recruit more officers from the latter group.

4. I will be responsible with the budget, having fought hard for a fair settlement from central government. I do not require an increase in local taxation and we will not overspend.

This election is not about introducing party politics into policing according to David Cameron, Boris Johnson, and Ed Milliband, who said so when canvassing in support of their party candidates! Who are they trying to kid? If, like me, you think this should be about policing and not party politics please vote for me. Not voting on November 15 will enable the party faithful to get “their” man. Is that what you really want?

Fraser Pithie, Conservative

After 32 years in business, I would be a commissioner with a clear goal - to catch criminals and cut crime combining my policing experience with business knowledge to do so efficiently. That’s why I will freeze next year’s council tax charge for policing.

Sadly, the ex-MP Labour candidate is promising to put our council tax up and the Independent candidate admits he does not have a plan and wants to keep the unelected police authority on.

As a former Special Constable, I know that we all want to see more Bobbies on the beat. Who wouldn’t? Our police do a great job and they deserve our support. But sadly, because of the massive debt in the UK, we all have a choice to make.

To put it simply, governments and councils don’t have their own money. Every penny they spend comes out of our pockets, from national taxes or local council tax. So the choice is either council tax going up or a clear plan to do more with less - to cut crime and catch criminals. And Warwickshire Police are proving it can be done - crime has already fallen by 11 per cent since April.

I have set out a clear 11-point contract with you and you can see it at www.fraserpithie.org.uk

I will hold regular advice surgeries and open meetings across Warwickshire so I can listen and act on your concerns. I’ll monitor the response given from the police to victims of crime and on just getting a response or feedback - things could be better.

I‘ll also get bobbies out and about more.

If elected I will sign an oath of impartiality. That means everyone in Warwickshire can have confidence in me focusing on what we all want - catching criminals and cutting crime.

If I haven’t delivered on my top priority of cutting crime by the end of my term in office, I won’t ask you to vote for me again. How often do you hear a candidate say that?

James Plaskitt, Labour

I’m ready to get back to work for the people of Warwick and Leamington – and for the district as a whole. I won’t be standing again to be your MP. It was a great privilege to represent you in our national Parliament and I hope I was able to help.

There’s another job I can see that needs doing here, and, with your support, I’m ready to get on with it. The new Police Commissioner job is a challenging one, that I will relish taking on.

I worked closely with Warwickshire Police and our local inspectors for 13 years. Over that time, we built up police numbers, introduced the very successful Community Support Officers, and I successfully negotiated for us to have the new Criminal Justice Centre. And over those years, crime here fell by 40 per cent.

But it’s not looking so good now. Over the past two years in Warwickshire we have lost 200 officers. The neighbourhood teams have lost some PCSOs. Our local force is being asked to take the biggest cuts of any force in England. As a result, the job that our dedicated and professional officers are being asked to do is being made harder. I don’t think what’s going on now is fair on our police, or on us as residents.

So I want to recruit additional officers, strengthen the neighbourhood teams, have a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour, give better support to the victims of crime, and be your voice setting our local crime reduction priorities. My full programme can be seen at www.jamesforwarwickshire.co.uk

I’m not looking to get back into politics. I want to get back to working for the community and doing the best I can for all of us – through strengthened local police teams, and lower levels of crime.

I hope you will cast your vote on November 15.