Major change in ballot for police commissioners
THE biggest change in policing for generations is just three weeks away.
On November 15 the public will be going to the polls for elections to the post of police and crime commissioners, powerful new jobs which will come with the ability to control police budgets, hire and fire chief constables, and decide local policing priorities.
Each force in Wales and England will have an elected commissioner who will replace the existing police authorities.
The UK Government says the commissioners will make police forces more accountable to the communities they serve and will give the public a powerful say in what the police do — but opponents say they will lead to the politicisation of policing.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Cerith Thomas, interim chief executive of South Wales Police Authority, has previously described the introduction of commissioners as the biggest change in policing for 40 years.
He said: "Ultimately, the public will have the power, as they will be holding the police and crime commissioner to account through the votes at the ballot box.
"If you do not like the way the commissioner is doing something, you can vote for someone else at the next election.
"This means that the commissioner will be answerable to the public, and will need to have a clear understanding of what is important to them."
The functions of the future commissioners are currently carried out by police authorities which are made up of 19 members — a mix of councillors from the local authorities covered by the forces, and independent representatives.
But all that will change after November 15.
The battle for the South Wales Police commissioner job is a four-way fight between Labour and the Tories and two independent candidates, while voters in the Dyfed-Powys Police area have a straight choice of Labour or Conservative.
Some people have questioned whether one directly- elected commissioner can represent an entire force area, especially ones with big and diverse populations like South Wales Police, or those that cover large areas like Dyfed- Powys, which is geographically the biggest force in Wales and England.
However, Tory Home Secretary Theresa May has said they will help to "transfer power back to the people".
Candidates can spend no more than a fixed sum on their campaign — in South Wales Police area it is £174,179 and in Dyfed-Powys it is £72,622. However, there will be no free mailshot to every home like candidates get during General Elections, leading many to claim the process is stacked in favour of party political candidates and against independents.
Once in office, the commissioners will draw up local policing priorities and an annual plan, set the police budget and council tax precept, and scrutinise the performance of the force, as well as having the power to appoint or dismiss the chief constable — but the Home Secretary has insisted that they will not interfere with the operational independence of chief constables.
The post of commissioner comes with a decent wage too — the South Wales commissioner will earn £80,000 a year, while the Dyfed-Powys job comes with a £65,000 salary.
The work of each commissioner will be scrutinised by a police and crime panel, made-up of councillors and independent members, which will publish reports on his or her performance.
South Wales Police candidates:
Mike Baker (Independent)
Mike Baker spent almost 30 years as an officer with South Wales Police before retiring and becoming a solicitor.
If elected he said he would ensure the needs of local communities are the driving force behind what he does, and he said the job should work “to the advantage of the public and not party politicians”.
Mr Baker said he wants to ensure the police retain a position of respect free from political interference, and wants victims at the heart of justice system.
Caroline Jones (Conservative)
Caroline Jones, from Margam, has worked in teaching, and the prison service as well as running her own business.
She said the police need to change the way they work by ensuring officers are “out on the beat, not sat behind desks”. She said she is passionate about the area and knows that communities face many challenges.
Ms Jones said tackling antisocial behaviour which she described as a “blight on communities” would be a priority, and she said the justice system needs rebalancing to look after victims of crime.
Tony Verderame (Independent)
Tony ran his own engineering business and worked for Fiat and Alfa Romeo as well as running his own hotel. He is chairman of the Cardiff Older Persons Forum. He said he wants to “restore the moral duty of the police”, listen to the concerns of the public, deliver approachable policing across South Wales and is committed to “not to becoming a tool of politicians”. Mr Verderame said he would focus on doorstep crime and domestic violence.
Alun Michael (Labour)
Alun Michael is MP for Cardiff South and Penarth and is a former Police Minister. He was previously a youth worker, councillor and magistrate.
He said he would put neighbourhood policing and support for victims of crime at the heart of his approach to being commissioner, and that he would work with councils, the Welsh Labour Government, and other partners.
Mr Michael said he had opposed the UK Government’s 20 per cent cuts in police funding, which he described as “too deep and too fast for safety”.
Dyfed-Powys Police candidates
Christine Gwyther (Labour)
Pembroke Dock-born Christine Gwyther is a former Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire AM, and was Minister of Agriculture in Cardiff Bay. She said she would “lead the fight” against UK Government cuts to police funding, and pledges to “show police officers and staff the respect they deserve”. Ms Gwyther said she would prioritise community policing, would regularly get senior managers “out of their offices and onto the beat”, and would ensure victims of crime get the support they need.
Christopher Salmon (Conservative)
Christopher Salmon is from a Mid Wales farming family. He joined The Rifles in 2003 and completed tours of duty in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq.
If elected to the role of commissioner he said he wants to see “common sense policing” in Dyfed-Powys with an emphasis on bobbies on the beat and tackling yobs and antisocial behaviour.
Mr Salmon said he would ensure the police “dress and behave” so they get the respect they need to do their jobs.