WHAT is a Police and Crime Commissioner? With elections just under a month away on November 15, candidates are already warning of a low-turn out during the voting to determine who will replace the Police Authority.
But much is at stake at polling stations, as 41 forces in England and Wales prepare to replace their authorities with an elected official.
The decision to change the way police forces operate across the country “cements the biggest change to affect policing in decades and will bring forward a new style of police governance,” according to Lancashire Police Authority.
The changes have been designed to strengthen the relationship between the police and the communities they serve and four candidates from parties including Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) have put themselves forward.
Miranda Carruthers-Watt, chief executive of Lancashire Police Authority, said: “This is an election to choose someone representing the public’s views on policing and crime.
“One of the most important things the public needs to know is they will set the police budget and police priorities in the county.
“It’s also about working alongside the whole of the criminal jusitce service.
“This post has new priorities to ensure all corners of the criminal justice system are covered, and that’s quite a big role. They will receive funding from the Government to help victims of crime.
“Money will be used to improve community safety and drug and alcohol matters, so there’s a really strong need for commissioners to work alongside partners to make sure services are joined up as much as possible.”
Mrs Carruthers-Watt says she is confident talk of a low turn out will evaporate on November 15 and the people of Lancashire will take the election seriously and vote.
Conservative candidate TIM ASHTON is a familiar face on the Fylde coast.
Having recently stepped down as Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for Highways and Transport, Mr Ashton says he wants to provide more frontline police officers.
He told The Gazette: “I’m standing because I want to make Lancashire a better place. I’m absolutely committed to reducing crime which is my number one priority and I will also be the voice of victims if the courts don’t pass a strong enough sentence.
“The Police Authority is allocated £1.9m and the cost of the 17 members is £300,000. I would slash that budget and put it into frontline officers and I’m also prepared to visit a different place in Lancashire four times a month to get feedback.
“I’ll also issue a quarterly report about how things are going, be transparent with all the spending and make sure people communicate.”
Barrister AFZAL ANWAR stood unsuccessfully for the Liberal Democrats in the 2010 General Election and wants to build on Lancashire Police’s reputation as “one of the best forces in the country.”
Mr Anwar, from Nelson, says he will provide a fresh approach to the role.
He said: “Anyone who gets elected to this new post should lead from the front and do everything they can to provide public safety and I will not cut frontline police officers.
“I’ve been working with the Criminal Justice System for the last 10 years and as a lawyer I have seen both sides while in court. This is not about politics it’s about being the best man for the job and the purpose of this is to bring in fresh and new ideas.
“If we stick with people who have served on the Police Authority there is no point in changing this, so we need someone with a new perspective.”
Fighting against domestic violence and child sexual exploitation is at the top of CLIVE GRUNSHAW’s agenda.
The Labour candidate said: “My aim in standing for election for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire is so I can ensure Lancashire Police are accessible and deliver the protection, security and service the people of Lancashire want and deserve.
“Lancashire has a reputation for its excellent standards in policing.
“We need to build on this reputation and not let the coalition Government’s cuts to police jobs reverse the reduction in crime that was achieved by the last Labour Government.
“The last Labour Government has a proud record of achievement in community safety, we listened to what the public wanted and delivered. The Neighbourhood Policing Strategy was particularly effective.”
Former special constable ROBERT DROBNY is the United Kingdom Independence Party candidate.
After walking the beat in Blackpool, the ex-deputy mayor of Preesall says he is well-prepared to understand what the police needs.
Mr Drobny told The Gazette: “I’m going to crackdown on anti social behaviour and get tough on crime.
“Another of my policies is to tackle domestic violence and bring offenders to justice and that includes men and women.
“My time as a special constable in Blackpool has set me up to understand what people need because I know what it’s like to do the job which is something the other candidates don’t have.”
Mr Drobny, from Knott End, added: “UKIP doesn’t have a local whip so I will be able to make my own policies without any interference from the party”.
For more information log on to www.lancspcc.co.uk