Candidates vying to become the Thames Valley’s first elected police leader have laid out their plans at a hustings.
With less than two weeks to go until the police and crime commissioner election, the six candidates are all making a big push for votes.
Possibly the biggest challenge facing whoever is elected to the post is dealing with the 20% cuts to police budgets that have been brought in and juggling limited resources.
During the hustings this week, many of the candidates outlined how they would handle the problem if elected on November 15.
UKIP’s Barry Cooper said he would not be ‘coming in with a blade and slash funding across the board’, but does believe more savings can be made. He said: “There’s still some fat to be trimmed from the way the Thames Valley Police budget is spent at the moment.” But he said if funding was re-allocated there would be no ‘black holes’.
Independent candidate Geoff Howard said under him there would be no reduction in the number of bobbies on the beat. To get the money to keep officers, Mr Howard said more partnership work could be done with other authorities, some police properties could be sold and more staff efficiencies could be found. To save officer time elsewhere, he suggested bureaucracy could be cut by officers dictating to back office staff what has happened at incidents.
Liberal Democrat runner John Howson hinted some police stations could be closed in the future to save money, as he believes fewer and fewer people are making contact with police through them.
Anthony Stansfeld, representing the Conservatives, said with the budget for the next two to three years already virtually set in stone, the real question is if there is going to be another comprehensive spending review. He said: “If we have another CSR we are going to have a major issue. The 20% we have taken has not been that difficult to take. Another 20% would be much more difficult.”
Much like his Parliamentary party, Labour’s Tim Starkey is opposed to the 20% cuts and would have preferred to see cuts in the region of 12%. He said if he is elected it is likely the police precept, the force’s share of council tax, would be increased by around 4% to generate funding.
The other candidate in the race is independent runner Patience Tayo Awe. She has promised to be a ‘viable link between the public and the police’.