TODAY (Thursday, November 15) Sussex heads to the polls to elects its first police and crime commissioner (PCC).
Nationally, 41 new commissioners will be elected across England and Wales.
The Sussex commissioner will be responsible for holding Sussex Police to account.
According to government information, the commissioner will do this by: engaging with the public and victims of crime to help set police and crime plans; ensuring the police force budget is spent where it matters most; appointing, and where necessary dismissing, the chief constable.
However, some people have expressed concern about the police becoming politicised.
A recent YouGov survey found 66 per cent of respondents in the South East disapproved or strongly disapproved of the idea of candidates being supported by a political party.
The same survey found 48 per cent of people felt an understanding of community needs or a willingness to support local communities to reduce crimes would be most important.
The government, however, said any elected candidate would represent the entire community and all commissioners would be required to swear an oath of impartiality.
“The oath is designed so PCCs can set out publicly their commitment to tackling their new role with integrity,” a government statement said.
“It will reflect the commitment police officers make to serve every member of the public impartially and make clear they are there to serve people, not a political party or any one section of their electorate.”
For any readers still undecided about who to vote for, the Observer has put together summaries of the Sussex candidates’ election statements and key priorities.
Tony Armstrong UKIP
TONY Armstrong is the UKIP candidate, and his slogan is: “For the victim, not the criminal.”
He said his priority would be to reduce the effects of government cuts in police funding by reducing inefficiency, and said he would not increase the precept unless he ‘absolutely had to’.
“I am not a politician,” he said. “I was a 30-year career police officer until I retired.
“I believe in what I am doing – I have given up my job and I am funding the £5,000 election deposit myself.
“I will not make promises I do not know I can keep but I do promise to be honest with you.”
He said targeting known, active criminals was one way of reducing crime with increasing the number of neighbourhood policing teams being another.
“I believe it is more efficient to reduce the number of criminals than it is to investigate, detect, prosecute and imprison offenders who have already committed crimes,” he said.
Mr Armstrong would also invite community groups to make a one-page request for funding and would endeavour to protect Victim Support funding.
More information is available online at www.pccsussex.co.uk.
Katy Bourne Conservative
KATY Bourne is the Conservative candidate and said her vision was to ensure: “We are all safer in Sussex”.
She said her aims included being highly visible and a strong voice representing local people, identifying waste and inefficiencies so savings could be reinvested into frontline policing.
She also wants to put a special constable in every rural village, give victims a strong, local voice, support community safety partnerships and focus on rural, business and serious and organised crime.
“I want to enable Sussex Police to drive down crime, tackle antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse and provide visible, effective neighbourhood policing to the standards residents of Sussex expect and deserve,” she said.
Ms Bourne has commercial experience building, managing and selling her own company and investing in start-up businesses. as well as a public service background as a school governor and local councillor.
More information is available online at www.katybourne.com.
Ian Chisnall independent
IAN Chisnall is an independent candidate and said ‘preventing crime’ was at the heart of his approach to the role.
He said he would focus on specific themes of addressing the fear of crime and providing adequately for victims of crime.
His priorities would be domestic violence, hate crimes and people trafficking and recognising the suffering they release on victims.
Mr Chisnall also said the impact of drugs and alcohol trigger many crimes so deserve priority consideration.
For more than a decade, Mr Chisnall served as chairman of Sussex YMCA and was an independent adviser to Sussex Police for eight years.
“This post demands strong leadership, a quality I have shown over many years in a number of roles,” he said.
“The police and crime commissioner must also work in partnership with a range of organisations in Sussex, many of which I have current experience of.
“As residents and workers, we can all play a valuable role in keeping our workplaces and neighbourhoods safe from crime. Particularly those crimes which matter most to many of us, such as car theft and anti social behaviour.”
More information is available online at www.Ian4PCC.com.
Godfrey Daniel Labour
GODFREY Daniel is the Labour candidate and said he wants to: “Cut crime not police”.
Mr Daniel was a member of Sussex Police Authority for more than seven years and a member of the Sussex Probation Board for six years.
He has been a magistrate since 1989 as well as having a successful career in teaching, fostering, residential social work and local government.
Mr Daniel has also been involved in the mental health field as an associate hospital manager for Sussex Partnership Trust.
His election statement said: “Godfrey believes Sussex Police must work closely with the local community to sustain and enhance neighbourhood policing, dealing effectively with antisocial behaviour.”
His priorities include reducing domestic violence, hate crime, alcohol and drug issues and he strongly opposes moves to privatise police services, for example G4S, and cuts to policing.
“Sussex deserves a credible, competent and capable police and crime commissioner,” said the statement.
More information is available online at www.godfreydaniel.org.uk.
David Rogers Liberal Democrats
DAVID Rogers is the Liberal Democrat candidate and his slogan is: “Work together to cut crime”.
He has been a councillor for more than 35 years and was a member of the Sussex Police Authority, acting as chairman for two years.
“My children grew up here,” said Mr Rogers. “It is a great place to live. Now I want to make it even better and safer.”
His priorities are cutting bureaucracy to help the police spend more time on the street, giving new power to communities to tackle anti-social behaviour, a new approach to community sentencing and targeting extra resources to cut all forms of domestic violence.
Mr Rogers said the partnership working would be key to the role.
He said alcohol was a factor in 44 per cent of violent crime so he would work with hospitals and councils to address issues, as well as working with health services to help victims of domestic abuse and treat drug users, responsible for more than one third of acquisitive crime.
More information is available online at david4safersussex.com.