CONSERVATIVE Angus Macpherson was announced as Wiltshire’s first ever police and crime commissioner 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 countywide poll, in which voters also had the option to choose a second preference candidate.
Mr Macpherson, of Wroughton, who was 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 result was announced at 5am at the Oasis Leisure Centre to cries of delight from Conservative supporters.
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, I 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 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.
As to whether the low turnout called into question his legitimacy to fill the roll, he said: “More people have thought I could do the job than any other candidate and that’s good enough for me.”