THE county’s new policing chief has vowed to work for the good of every Sussex resident – despite being voted in by just one person in 20.
Conservative Katy Bourne, who was named as the first Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner after last Thursday’s election, told the Observer: “Whether people did vote or didn’t vote, it won’t stop me working really hard for everyone.”
She has pledged to make tackling anti-social behaviour a priority, as well as domestic abuse and rural crime, during her four years in office.
The 48-year-old mother-of-two said she would work with different groups throughout the area, including schools, the probation service and community safety partnerships, to make sure residents’ concerns were properly heard.
“There are two parts to this role,” she said. “One is understanding the budgets and the other is engaging with people. We have to write a police and crime plan which has to be what local people want it to be.”
Mrs Bourne, who will take office on Thursday, November 22, with a salary of £85,000, was announced as the winning candidate on Friday. When the first count results were totted up in Brighton, she had 59,635 votes – or 32 per cent. Following her was Labour’s Godfrey Daniel, with 40,765 votes (22 per cent).
Next were Ian Chisnall, independent, and Tony Armstrong, of the UK Independence Party, with 38,930 votes (21 per cent) and 29,327 votes (15 per cent) respectively. Liberal Democrat David Rogers received 20,579 votes (11 per cent).
As none of the candidates received more than 50 per cent of the first choice votes, the second choice votes for Mrs Bourne and Mr Daniel were counted and added to their first choice votes.
The turnout to vote across the whole of Sussex was 15.82 per cent. This means by earning 32 per cent in the first round, Mrs Bourne won with 5.06 per cent of the voting population – roughly one in 20 people.
But she refused to dwell on the low turnout figures, predicting it would improve in future elections once people better understood the role.
“For the first time, people have someone they can go to to express what they want from their policing across Sussex – my job is to ask all the awkward questions,” said Mrs Bourne, who has to complete the county’s crime and policing plan by March 31.
“85 per cent of people I spoke to said anti-social behaviour was their main priority,” she added. “This is what blights people’s lives and makes them a complete misery.”
The controversial new police and crime commissioner roles will replace local police authorities. They will not run the police, but will be responsible for holding the chief constable to account. They will also set the local policing budget, and appoint chief constables and remove them where needed.
The chairman of the outgoing Sussex Police Authority welcomed Mrs Bourne’s election but admitted he was sad to see the end of the authority.
“Despite some of the criticism levelled at police authorities, in Sussex they have been a body that has worked tirelessly to ensure Sussex Police is held to account and that they are an effective and efficient police force,” said Steve Waight.
“We have overseen drops in crime rates over the past seven years and this comes in a time of deep financial constraints.”
The new Sussex Police and Crime Panel will meet on Monday in Lewes.