FOUR candidates are in the running to be West Yorkshire’s first elected Crime Commissioner.
The role of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) – and a £100,000 salary – is directly replacing West Yorkshire Police Authority, a group of 17 councillors and independent members of the public that currently oversee West Yorkshire Police.
Its aim is to provide a stronger and more transparent accountability of the police.
It will be up to the electorate to choose who they want to take on the role when elections are held next Thursday. November 15.
And the appointment comes at a critical time for West Yorkshire Police, with the first job of the new Crime Commissioner to appoint a new Chief Constable.
Former Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison resigned last month over controversy surrounding his role in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
The appointed Crime Commissioner will work closely with the new Chief Constable but the running of the force will remain their responsibility.
The PCC will hold the Chief Constable to account, effectively making the police answerable to the communities they serve.
The candidates for West Yorkshire are:
Mark Burns-Williamson – Labour; Geraldine Carter – Conservative; Cedric Christie – Independent; Andrew Marchington – Liberal Democrat
The new post of PCCs has come under criticism for switching the role previously carried out by 17 people to just one elected official.
It has also been considered ‘dangerous’ for politics to involve itself with policing.
Nationally it is thought the higher cost for running for election has led some small party or independent candidates to pull out of the election race because they can’t afford it.
However, the post proposes the largest change towards democratic reform of the police and criminal justice system in a generation and will see funding for a range of services, including £50m victim support determined at local level.
Clr Mark-Burns Williamson
(Labour, represents Castleford Central and Glasshoughton on Wakefield Council)
As chairman of West Yorkshire Police Authority for nearly 10 years and chairman of the National Association of Police Authorities I have a successful track record in policing at local and national level.
I am the only candidate standing in West Yorkshire with the proven ability to be a robust advocate for the public and provide the strong leadership our police needs. I will work with all the communities and organisations throughout West Yorkshire to make sure their concerns are included in my policing plan.
WHAT ARE YOUR KEY PLEDGES?
Stand against the £100m Government cuts of around 2,000 police officers and staff in West Yorkshire
Keep police officers and PCSOs on the beat, not hand police work over to private companies
Strong and swift action on anti-social behaviour
Be tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime, giving victims a greater voice
Preserve operational independence of the police
At present only a small proportion of the millions of pounds gained from criminals through the Proceeds of Crime Act actually comes back to West Yorkshire Police. If elected I’ll fight for our police to get 100% of that money.
Clr Geraldine Carter (Conservative, represents Ryburn on Calderdale Council)
I have served on West Yorkshire Police Authority and as a board member of the West Yorkshire Probation Service. West Yorkshire Police has been led by the same individual for the past decade. It’s time for change. It’s time to get tough on criminals.
WHAT ARE YOUR KEY PLEDGES
Appoint a new Chief Constable to work with myself to deliver safer communities and tougher policing.
No more kid gloves – no special interests.
There are communities that the police feel unable to tackle crime in because they fear the consequences.
This is patronising to those communities and detrimental to law and order. I will be tough on crime full stop.
Support victims, not criminals. Victims should be able to decide the community punishment of offenders. Using the Coalition’s Prisoners Earnings Act, offenders will also be made to pay financial reparation to victims.
Zero-tolerance on knife and gun crime. Anyone convicted of using a knife or firearm to threaten and endanger should go straight to jail. Not enough has been done to rid our streets of knife and gun crime and I will enforce a zero-tolerance policy.
Cut police paperwork, freeing police from unnecessary red tape so they have more time for frontline duties responding to the real concerns of their communities.
I will put the bobby back on the beat. Recruit 850 new Special Constables as the best form of policing is local community.
As a former West Yorkshire Police detective inspector I have over 30 years experience and latterly headed the force’s Economic Crime Unit.
I am the only independent candidate. I am not a politician. What you see with me is what you get.
At school in Leeds I stood up to bullies. My anti-bullying principles are entrenched.
WHAT ARE YOUR KEY PLEDGES?
When you are a victim you turn to the police. You want to be treated with respect, listened to, be supported and protected.
I believe West Yorkshire Police houses a minority that do not adopt these standards.
I know the difference between right and wrong. I never allowed negative traits to influence my behaviour whilst serving you.
Your police must act with honesty, integrity, fairness, impartiality and within the law.
I will chase the corrupt and incompetent out of office. They do not deserve your respect.
Now is your opportunity to influence the future of policing for many years to come for the safety and security of our wonderful county.
Clr Andrew Marchington
(Lib Dem, represents Golcar on Kirklees Council)
I served on West Yorkshire Police Authority from 2010 until earlier this year.
I helped to set up the Kirklees Safer Stronger Communities Partnership and chaired it from 2005-6 and 2009-12
I also chaired the Kirklees Violent Crime Task Group from 2006-12
WHAT ARE YOUR KEY PLEDGES?
Reducing red tape to protect frontline services and get more police on our streets
Get police and local communities working together to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.
Payback sentencing that helps victims, benefits communities and reduces reoffending.
Effective action to protect people from domestic violence and rape.
Registered voters should have had a polling card in the post with details of polling stations.
For details of polling stations go to Kirklees.gov/uk and follow the PCC link on the homepage.
For information on candidates if you don’t have internet access call 08001070708.
The PCC will hold West Yorkshire Police and the Chief Constable to account on behalf of local people.
As well as planning policing budgets they will also:
Be accountable to the electorate
Regularly engage with the public and communities to bring the local link between the police and communities, in terms of policing and crime reduction, into action.
Receive all the funding relating to policing and reducing crime and, after consulting the chief constable, be responsible for how it is spent.
Appoint the chief constable and remove them from office when necessary. Also responsible for chief constable conduct matters.
Have wider responsibilities, including responsibility for delivering community safety and reducing crime, the ability to make crime and disorder reduction grants within a force area, and a duty to deliver better value for money or improve the effectiveness of policing.