Friday, 04 September 2015

Cumbria police and crime commissioner vote hopefuls take part in debate

ALL four candidates who are fighting to become police and crime commissioner for Cumbria have committed to signing off on a new Barrow police station.

A debate between the four prospective suitors for the role was held at The Forum on Tuesday night.

Elections for the commissioner, who will have powers to hire and fire chief constables and set police objectives and force budgets, will take place a week today.

The candidates were invited to speak to members of the public by Barrow Community Safety Partnership.

Dave Coverdale, the former locality manager for Barrow Fire and Rescue Service, chaired the meeting and said it was “a coup for the town to have all candidates present”.

Each candidate was given 10 minutes to introduce themselves to the crowd of around 80 residents and set out their priorities.

First up was Labour candidate Patrick Leonard who pledged to fight budget cuts, reconnect the police with the people, have different policies for different areas and work with partners such as local authorities and voluntary organisations.

South Lakeland District Councillor Pru Jupe, from the Lib Dems, pledged to hold bi-monthly surgeries with residents, do more for victims of crime and said she wanted qualified officers to be out on the beat rather than behind a desk.

Conservative candidate Richard Rhodes, who has served as a magistrate for 33 years, said he would form an executive committee to prepare a police plan which would look at ways of saving money and that he would target specific areas of crime, such as anti-social behaviour and youth justice.

Mary Robinson, the only independent candidate, said she believed politics should not be involved in policing, that she would fight the cuts and look at the root causes of crime.

The panel then took questions from the public, and all said they were against amalgamating police forces and arming police officers. They also said they would give up their day jobs if elected.

Mr Rhodes said CCTV was important to help convict criminals and Cllr Jupe said a review of CCTV was needed, while Dr Leonard said facilities at Barrow police station are not adequate but Cllr Robinson said certain cameras had to be prioritised and mobile technology had to be used.

Responding to the final question of the night, all candidates said they were committed to ensuring a new police station for Barrow was signed off.

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