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Wait and see what Angus does for you
9:00am Tuesday 20th November 2012 in Adver Columnists
This week, Wroughton resident Angus Macpherson, pictured, will be sworn in as the county’s first ever police and crime commissioner.
When the Wiltshire result was declared at the Oasis Leisure Centre early on Friday morning, Angus became the first of 41 new commissioners – one for every police force in England and Wales outside London. The final national scoreboard showed the Conservatives won 16 of the contests, Labour 13 and Independents 12.
Much has been said about the low turnout. In Wiltshire, only 15 per cent of the electorate bothered to cast a vote. But that still means Angus received 35,000 votes – more than the margin of victory of any MP at the last General Election.
Turnout is always low the first time an election is held, but this turnout is broadly in-line with some of the predictions. It will take more than one election for the public to see what a police and crime commissioner can do for their local community. Once people have seen the impact they can make, turnout will be much higher in future elections.
Unlike the unelected Police Authorities which they replace, commissioners will have a democratic mandate to cut crime and make local communities safer. They will be a voice for local concerns, protecting frontline policing, getting tough with anti-social behaviour and slashing police bureaucracy. And they will stand up for victims.
This represents a decisive shift with the old system and a big step towards people having a greater say in how their areas are policed.
I joined Angus on the doorsteps in South Swindon during the campaign and I know many people were concerned that the police were being politicised by the whole process.
This was undoubtedly a factor in the victories of the 12 independent Commissioners. I can understand this concern but, as one voter very eloquently said, the party labels did at least help you understand the broad values and policies you could expect from a candidate even if you knew nothing about them as an individual.
All commissioners will now swear an oath of impartiality and promise to act without fear or favour. In Wiltshire, Angus stood as a Conservative, but is now free from any political allegiance.
Working with the excellent officers and staff of Wiltshire Police, I know he will do a good job. I’m sure we all wish him well, whatever our political beliefs.
Finally, a word about Coun Doreen Dart. The number of people at her memorial service yesterday was an indication of how respected Doreen was, right across the political divide. Doreen did transcend party politics in so much of the work she did, particularly with children and young people. She will be sadly missed.
l Hundreds turn out to pay tribute to Doreen Dart: Page 9