CONSERVATIVE Angus Macpherson was announced as Wiltshire’s first ever police and crime commissioner this morning after securing a clear-cut election victory over five other candidates.
Police and crime 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 the force’s budget and strategy.
The Wiltshire winner was the first of 41 new commissioners to be announced as it was the only force area where counting took place overnight following the county-wide poll, in which voters also had the option to choose a second preference candidate.
Mr Macpherson, of Wroughton, who was previously a member of the police authority, received 28,558 first preference votes and 6,761 second preference votes, with Labour’s Clare Moody taking second place with 16,198 first preference votes and 4,959 second preference votes.
The other candidates, in order of first preference votes gained, were independent Colin Skelton with 11,446, Lib Dem Paul Batchelor with 10,130, John Short for UKIP with 7,250 and independent Liam Silcocks with 5,212.
In terms of first preference votes cast in Swindon alone, the result was much closer, with Mr Macpherson scoring 7,819 and Ms Moody, a regional officer at the union Unite, gaining 7,679, followed by Mr Short with 2,356, Mr Skelton with 2,068, Mr Batchelor with 1,842 and Mr Silcocks with 1,221.
The count took place at five centres across Wiltshire and the final Wiltshire-wide result was announced at 5am at the Oasis Leisure Centre to cries of delight from Conservative supporters, including Swindon North MP, Justin Tomlinson, and Swindon Council’s leader, Rod Bluh.
Mr Macpherson said: “Wiltshire Police have a motto, primus et optimus - the first and the best. I’m very proud to be the first police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire and will do everything I can to make myself the best for the people of Wiltshire.
“I’m really proud to get this job. I’m really excited, it think it’s going to be a great thing for the people of Wiltshire.”
Mr Macpherson, a chartered accountant and former councillor, wants to make better use of volunteers, including boosting the number of special constables from less than 200 active members to nearer 350 over a number of years through a recruitment drive.
Another of his ideas is to commission Wiltshire’s drug and alcohol services together, rather than in isolation, in a bid to provide better value for money and tackle substance abuse more holistically.
Mr Macpherson, who has been a magistrate in Swindon for 20 years, also wants to increase the use of restorative justice, which can range from a jailed offender agreeing to meet their victim face-to-face, to an offender physically repairing the damage they caused in return for no prosecution.
He said he felt people had voted for him because they identified he had the best skills and said a key role of all new commissioners would be to explain to the public and others the significance of the post.
Referring to the low turnout, Mr MacPherson said: "It would have been better that more people voted.
"There are several reasons why people didn't come out to vote - they didn't understand what the job is. They didn't know who the candidates were and couldn't make a judgment.
"And then, depressingly, there were a lot of people while we were out on the street saying 'I don't (vote) for anything'."
"Of all those that voted, more liked my skill-set than the others'. I think it is not so much a mandate, it is a large job interview.
"Of course it would be much better if more people had gone out to vote.
It is incumbent on all the PCCs, as we take office, to develop this job and let people know what it is.
"I believe that I can make a real difference, using my skills and knowledge.
"I will provide strong leadership, but will not interfere with the day-to-day running of the police. I have seven years' experience in monitoring police performance and a passion for building stronger, inclusive communities.
"I understand how the police work and 20 years as a magistrate give me a working knowledge of the criminal justice system and the needs of victims.
"I'm excited about working with the voluntary sector and local authorities to improve crime reduction.
"I will protect neighbourhood teams, embedded in the community they serve.
"Swindon-born, I have a real connection with the county, its communities and the challenges we face."
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