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Police candidates share their vision
SIX candidates are canvassing to be Wiltshire’s first police and crime commissioner as interest builds ahead of the county-wide poll on November 15.
The commissioners are being brought in by the Government to replace police authorities in England and Wales, and will have the power to hire and fire chief constables and set forces’ budgets and strategies.
The candidates are Labour’s Clare Moody, Conservative Angus Macpherson Lib Dem Paul Batchellor, John Short for UKIP and independents Liam Silocks and Colin Skelton. Ms Moody, a south west regional officer at the union Unite, said her priorities were to protect funding for neighbourhood policing and stamp out hidden crime such as domestic violence and hate crime. She also wants to boost the democratic face of policing by appearing in and listening to the public.
“One of the most commented-upon parts of people’s experiences of crime in Wiltshire is anti-social behaviour,” she said. “The most effective way to deal with this is protecting those front-line neighbourhood police teams because they deal with it.”
Mr Macpherson, an accountant who has been a Swindon magistrate for 20 years, said he aimed to boost volunteering, champion restorative justice and to commission Wiltshire’s drug and alcohol services together, rather than in isolation, to provide better value for money and tackle substance abuse more holistically.
“You’ve got drug and alcohol services that are paid for getting people off drugs but if they’re using alcohol to excess that doesn’t matter. It’s about joining things up,” he said.
Mr Batchellor, the chairman of the Warminster Police Neighbourhood Tasking Group, said his priorities were prioritising victim support, as well as tackling drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour.
He said: “Wiltshire’s first police commissioner should be out and meeting the public at every available opportunity and that’s what I will do.”
Mr Short, of Old Town, former deputy chief executive of Swindon Council, is promising to increase the number of warranted officers by 150 and double the number of special constables by finding savings in the existing budget and starting a recruitment drive.
“As far as I’m concerned, from police officers on the ground, the situation in Swindon is fraught because it lacks the manpower,“ he said.
Mr Skelton, of Salisbury, who has spent 20 years in counter terrorism research, policy and training within the Civil Service, pledges to put 300 more police officers on the streets of Wiltshire, ensure the top 100 worst offenders are targeted, cut crime by 20 per cent, and ensure fair treatment for officers and staff.
He said: “I will set up five enhanced integrated offender management teams across Wiltshire, each targeting the 20 most prolific offenders in their area. If offenders do not change their behaviour, they will be aggressively targeted for intensive supervision and disruption to their activities, while building a solid case against them prior to their prosecution.”
Some of the key policies of Mr Silcocks, an IT professional, of West Ashton, Trowbridge, is to establish an independent panel to review any alleged police wrongdoings and to ban the use of the Lti 2020 hand-held speed gun, which he believes is unreliable.
HOW THE VOTE WILL WORK
The election, run by Swindon Council’s electoral services team, will take place on Thursday, November 15 and will involve more than 500,000 potential voters, 85,000 postal votes and more than 450 polling stations.
For those not already on the electoral register, the deadline to be included is 5pm today. Postal vote applications must be in by 5pm today and proxy vote applications by 5pm on Wednesday, November 7.
There will be two columns on the ballot paper – one for voters to mark their first choice and one in which to mark a second choice. Voters mark one 'X' in each column, although they are not required to make a second choice.
All the first choices are then counted, and if a candidate has 50 per cent of the vote, plus at least one vote, they are elected.
If no candidate receives a majority, the top two continue to a second round and all other candidates are eliminated. The second-choice votes of everyone whose first choice has been eliminated are then counted. Any votes for the remaining candidates are then added to their first-round totals. Whichever candidate has the most votes after these second-preferences have been allocated is declared the winner.
The count will take place overnight from November 15 into November 16 at five locations across Wiltshire, including at the Oasis Leisure Centre, where the winner will be announced.
For more information, contact electoral services on 01793 463543 or firstname.lastname@example.org