Former bakery director first independent candidate for police role
A NEW candidate has emerged in the race to become Avon and Somerset's first Police and Crime Commissioner.
From November elected commissioners are replacing police authorities and, having appointed their own team, will be in charge of budgets with the power to hire and fire chief constables.
Independent candidate Sue Mountstevens has launched her campaign with a pledge to "keep politics out of policing". Ms Mountstevens is the only independent standing so far for election to the newly created post on November 15.
For many years, she was a director of the well-known local family business, Mountstevens Bakeries, which opened its first shop in Bristol in 1911 and had more than 90 shops across the South West, employing about 1,300 people.
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A magistrate in Bristol for the past 15 years, serving on adult, youth and family cases, she has also been an independent member on the Avon and Somerset Police Authority and vice-chair of the Independent Monitoring Board at Bristol Prison.
She said: "The role of the commissioner will be to deliver an effective police force, supporting Avon and Somerset Constabulary, but at the same time holding the force to account and acting as the voice of the 1.6 million people who live in the area, as well as working in partnership with a range of agencies at a local and national level. As the only candidate to be standing for election from outside the main parties, I passionately believe that politics should be kept out of policing and I will protect both residents and police from political interference.
"I am local to Avon and Somerset – I was born here, educated here and work here, and I care about local people. I know how to run a large and complex business and I thoroughly understand the criminal justice system."
Ms Mountstevens said, if elected for the four-year term, her priorities would be to deal with anti-social behaviour, violence against women and girls, and burglary, as well as focusing on the victims of crime. "These are the problems which people tell me are their major concerns," she said. "The link between them is the home – how safe people feel in their home and in their communities. If people are not safe in their home, or do not feel safe, they cannot live a normal life.
"I will put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system. I believe we need a radical transformation of the way the victims of crime are treated. I will ensure that their voice is heard and that action is taken."
The other declared candidates for the election are Bristol city councillor Peter Levy (Lib Dem), John Savage CBE (Lab), the chairman of the city centre hospital trust, and former Somerset County Council leader Ken Maddock (Cons).