Police commissioner candidates visit area

TWO candidates for a new role, set to make policing in Lincolnshire more publicly accountable, have been explaining their policies to local voters.

The elected position of Lincolnshire Police Commissioner will scrutinise the force’s running, set its policies and control its budget, when it launches in November.

As the election date approaches, several candidates, representing political parties and standing independently, have visited Skegness and the surrounding area to learn of local concerns and make their views known.

Independent candidate David Bowles, who recently canvassed outside the Hildreds Centre, claims the people he spoke to were resoundingly opposed to seeing a political appointment.

“There’s a lack of trust when it comes to politicians, and people think the last thing they should be running is the police,” he said.

Issues which the Skegness residents he spoke to felt needed addressing included antisocial behaviour and tougher sentencing. Although the police commissioner won’t be able to directly set sentencing guidelines, he hopes his drive to treble the number of special constables from 200 to 600 may cut antisocial behaviour and better support full-time officers to deal with troubles associated with the night-time economy.

“Dealing with these issues has the effect of pulling away from our other towns,” he added.

“That’s bad enough in itself but even worse, as a result, some of our smaller towns and villages feel they have been abandoned - the elderly feel particularly so.”

Conservative candidate for the role Richard Davies also had the chance to introduce his policies during a public meeting in Ingoldmells last week.

Mr Davies explained the two policies most central to his manifesto - improving police visibility and preventing crime, rather than merely responding to it.

With many uniformed police officers fulfilling ‘unnecessary’ jobs ‘sat behind computers’ Mr Davies hopes to increase the force’s frontline presence by cutting the backline roles and better utilising volunteers.

“We need more resources on the street and less dealing with statistics and we should use volunteers better,” he said.

Mr Davies also highlighted concerning statistics that Lincolnshire Police only identified a culprit in a quarter of reported crimes. Although he praised the force’s approach to dealing with victims, he felt it would be far better to have fewer victims.

Concerns about ‘politicising’ the police force with party representatives, similar to those explained by Mr Bowles, were also raised with Mr Davies.

Mr Davies explained that the police force was already one of the most politicised public organisations but whereas currently there is no public accountability, the introduction of elected police commissioners would instil that accountability.