The runner-up in the last election for Wiltshire and Swindon’s Police and Crime Commissioner has thrown his hat back in the ring this year.

And given that Mike Rees was a police officer until 10 years ago, perhaps that hat is the traditional bobby’s helmet.

Having come second to the winner, the Conservative Philip Wilkinson in 2021 by just under only 3,000 in the second round of voting Mr Rees said he had decided he wouldn’t do it again.

But now he has changed his mind.

The independent candidate said: “There gave been a lot of people getting in touch with me asking me to do it again, which is easy for them as it’s not them doing it.”

But Mr Rees says he was inspired by the recent parliamentary by-election is Rochdale where the independent candidate David Tully came second, beating the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Reform UK candidates.

The example of an independent candidate gave him hope: “People are fed up with the arrogance, lies, corruption and deceit within politics.

“I am an independent candidate with no political allegiance for a role that should not be influenced by political parties but by the people it serves.

“Policing should have no political influence. I have no political background, no agenda and no allegiance to any party.”

Mr Rees pulls few punches about the current state of policing in the UK adding: “The British police at one time was the best, at least one of the best in the world.

“But after what successive governments have do to it over the last 10 to 15 years, they’ve almost destroyed the police service.”

Funding and numbers are the main reason Mr Rees identifies as the trouble: “There are not enough police officers. And there is too much self-policing. We all know of serious cases where self-policing is necessary but there’s too much of it.

“There’s not enough funding, too much political spin, and not enough is being investigated.”

And he says his past as a police officer would be an advantage in scrutinising the police force, not a hindrance: “People said I’d be too pro-police, but it’s not true.

“Scrutiny of police should not be political. But you want someone who understands how it works.”

The elections for PCC will be held on Thursday, May 2.

The incumbent PCC, the Conservative Philip Wilkinson is expected to stand again. The Labour, Liberal Democrat and other parties’ candidates will be announced in due course.