Candidates for police commissioner line up, but Lib Dems give it a miss
The Liberal Democrats have decided not to run a candidate at the election for West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner on May 5, fearing that the party’s low standing in opinion polls would probably lead to the loss of a hefty £5,000 deposit.
It is the first time since PCCs were introduced in 2012 that the party has not stood, and is bound to raise questions over whether the Liberal Democrats will contest next year’s election for a West Midlands metro mayor.
Previously the Lib Dems have selected former Birmingham city councillor Ayoub Khan as their candidate to oversee the largest police force outside of the Met in London.
At the 2014 by-election following the death of Labour PCC Bob Jones, Mr Khan limped home with 6.5 per cent of the vote, narrowly saving his deposit. The£5,000 would have been lost had he polled less than five per cent of the vote.
David Jamieson won for Labour in 2014 and remains hot favourite to be re-elected this time for the £100,000-a-year post.
Mr Jamieson, a former MP for Plymouth Devonport, junior transport minister and Solihull council cabinet member, is one of four candidates nominated to contest the May 5 poll.
He is up against Conservative Les Jones, a former leader of Dudley Council; Pete Durnell, chairman of UKIP’s Sandwell branch; and Independent Andy Flynn.
In his manifesto Mr Jamieson promises to recruit 1,000 new police officers if he is re-elected.
He states that neighbourhood policing lies at the core of keeping communities safe and that “residents need to know officers in their area”.
Mr Jamieson adds:
The needs of victims will always be a top priority. I will continue my Victims Commission of experts which ensures victims get the help they need.
I want our police to have the latest technology to help them tackle crime in a rapidly changing world.
I will continue to recruit to our force by increasing new recruits from 450 to 1000. I will ensure we recruit the very best people and that they look more like the people of the West Midlands.
Mr Jones, the Conservative candidate, says his previous experience as a member of the police authority and a council leader makes him ideally suited to become police commissioner.
My 17 years in public service and the commitment to listen to the needs of the whole community mean I will bring a common sense approach and a lifetime of being a part of the community to bear in the role.
He promises to keep police stations open, review all spending, and prioritise “the frontline” if elected.
UKIP candidate Pete Durnell is promising more community policing and says he will “work tirelessly to provide the key link between the West Midlands public and its police force”.
Independent candidate Andy Flynn says he would reduce crime by ensuring 80 per cent of officers’ time is spent on duty, patrolling or actively policing the wider community.
Both the Government and the Labour party have conceded that elected police commissioners are here to stay and will not seek to reintroduce police authorities. However, leading politicians will look nervously to turnout figures at the PCC elections across England and Wales.
Fewer than 12 per cent of registered voters turned out for the 2012 West Midlands PCC election. The figure fell to 10.4 per cent in the 2014 by-election.
Home Secretary Theresa May said in a speech this week that police commissioners were doing a far better job than the “invisible” police authorities they replaced. Mrs May added:
Police authorities were theoretically responsible for holding forces to account. Yet in reality these bodies were nothing more than invisible committees of appointed councillors.
They were tasked with acting on behalf of the public and had a duty to engage local people and businesses in setting priorities and local taxes, but they did nothing of the sort.
Attendance at public meetings was often very poor, only one in every 15 people knew that police authorities even existed, and their decisions were far from easily available, often hidden among lengthy minutes posted on their websites.
The commissioners, she added, “are elected, visible, well-known in their communities and accountable for the decisions they take”.
Mrs May stressed that anyone unimpressed by their police commissioner could make their feelings clear by voting for someone else on May 5.
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