COLIN Skelton, an independent candidate to be Wiltshire’s first police and crime commissioner, is pledging to put 300 more officers on the streets and cut crime by 20 per cent in his first term if he is elected next month.

Mr Skelton, of Salisbury, said he had resigned from his roles as a civil servant and a special constable in Wiltshire to stand at the county-wide poll on November 15 as he felt the new position should be filled by an independent member rather than a member of a political party.

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 candidates are Labour’s Clare Moody and the Conservatives’ Angus Macpherson, who were announced by their parties earlier this year, as well as independents Mr Skelton and Liam Silcocks. The Lib Dems have yet to announce a candidate and the official closing date for nominations is this Friday.

Mr Skelton, a father-of-two, said his priority, if elected, would be to hire 300 new police officers: 100 in the first year and about 60 or 70 in the following three years.

He said he would impose a three-year recruitment freeze on civilian staff, not including police community support officers (PCSOs), and ring-fence the money saved when staff retire or leave to pay for the new officers.

He said: “Wiltshire has the lowest police-to-population ratio in the country, so we have one police officer for every 750 people. Everywhere else in the country it’s one police officer to 500 people at the moment.

“So it’s an absolute testament to the current officers that they’ve managed to do such a good job with so few staff, but the 300 people brings us up to the national average.”

Mr Skelton said another key policy would be to target Wiltshire’s 100 worst offenders by allocating more officers to the Home Office integrated offender management programme, which he said had cut crime by 45 per cent in other force areas but was underresourced in Wiltshire.

“The problem is Wiltshire Police does do this programme for 100 offenders but it only has six officers running it,” said Mr Skelton, who worked for the MoD in the field of counter terrorism research, training and operations. “But I would put 30 officers into that team and do it properly.”

He said this was part of his pledge to slash crime by 20 per cent over four years, but the drive would also include the purchase of special software which helps to predict where burglaries will happen and which had helped cut burglaries by 27 per cent is Los Angeles.

In his fourth key pledge, Mr Skelton promises to ensure the fair treatment of police officers, PCSOs and police staff.

He said: “There’s not much I can do with pay because we have a pay freeze but I think fair treatment for me is about being able to give staff a sense they belong to the organisation, that they have a stake in it and they have some control over decisions that are made.”

Read his full manifesto at