Police Commissioner elections: All you need to know
On November 15, people living in the former Avon area and Somerset will vote for their first ever policing and crime commissioner. Crime reporter Daniel Evans explains the changes ahead.
What is the old system we are getting rid of?
Chaired by Dr Peter Heffer, the police authority is made up of nine councillors from local authorities across the force area, and eight independent members.
Its role includes holding the constabulary to account and making sure it is as “efficient and effective” as possible.
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The authority sets and manages the annual budget, about £270 million, sets the council tax precept and draws up “policing plans”.
It consults with communities to find out what people want from their police service. The authority – which has sub-committees including finance and performance and audit – also appoints the Chief Constable and other Chief Officers.
What is a police and crime commissioner and what will their powers be?
The Government’s aim is for the commissioner to give the public “a voice at the highest level and give the public the ability to ensure their police are accountable”.
PCCs will be required to swear an oath of impartiality when they are elected to office.
The Electoral Commission said: “The swearing of an oath will be an important symbol of impartiality, emphasising both the significance of this new role in local communities and that PCCs are there to serve the people, not a political party or any one section of their electorate.”
They will be elected for four years at a time and the basic salary is £85,000 per year.
The commissioner will take on the powers of the police authority – including the power to appoint or remove a chief constable – but will also have responsibility for the community safety budgets currently spent by the region’s councils.
The chief constable will remain responsible for day-to-day operational matters, however the commissioner will set local policing priorities and plans, and decide how the council tax precept is spent on crime and policing issues.
The commissioner will be able to appoint his or her own team, but will be held to account by a Police and Crime Panel (PCP), made up of a minimum ten representatives from councils, plus two independent members or “co-optees”. The maximum PCP size will be 20 members.
The panel will make recommendations on the crime plan and annual reports, will be able to veto (with a two-thirds majority) the appointment of the chief constable and the council tax levels.
The commissioner will be duty bound to respond to any concerns the panel has and they will be able to make reports or recommendations about his or her proposals.
Who are the candidates?
Candidates must be over 18, a British, Commonwealth or EU citizen, and must be registered to vote with the police force area. They must pay a deposit of £5,000.
There are currently four people in the running to become Avon and Somerset’s first commissioner.
Independent candidate Sue Mountstevens, 57, is a member of the current police authority, a Bristol magistrate of 15 years and was vice-chairwoman of the Independent Monitoring Board at Bristol prison.
Ken Maddock, the Conservative candidate, was the leader of Somerset County Council and a Mendip District Councillor. The 68-year-old is an experienced businessman who used to be a fashion buyer for C&A.
Pete Levy, a former police constable and Royal Military Police officer for six years, is also a member of the police authority. The 51-year-old is a Lib Dem Bristol City councillor representing Horfield.
John Savage, 67, is running for the Labour party. He is chairman of the city centre hospital trust, executive chairman of Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative, former High Sheriff of Bristol and West of England Learning and Skills Council chair.
How do I vote?
The supplementary vote system will be used.
Voters will be asked to select their first and second choices. If no candidate wins half of the first preference votes, the two candidates with the highest number go forward to a second round of counting.
In the second round, ballots with a first preference for a candidate that did not get into the top two will be re-allocated according to the second preference indicated in the ballot paper.
Whichever of the top two candidates has the most votes after these second preferences have been allocated is declared the winner.
What happens next?
Candidates will be confirmed at noon on Friday, when nominations close.
The election takes place on Thursday, November 15, at the same time as the Bristol mayoral election and the new commissioner will be sworn in on November 22.