Suffolk: Police and crime commissioner role has ‘no place for politics’

A PANEL of professionals and public figures agreed there was no place for politics in policing ahead of a vote to elect Suffolk’s first police and crime commissioner.

Members of the public had the chance to quiz local and national authorities on justice at a law and order version of Question Time at the county’s Martlesham police headquarters last night.

The distinguished panel featured Shadow policing minister David Hanson who before the meeting had rejected calls for a return of capital punishment.

He said it would be wrong to rush to arm the police in the wake of Tuesday’s double shooting in Manchester.

Also on last night’s panel was Suffolk-based former chairman of the Conservative Party Lord Tebbit, Suffolk’s Chief Constable Simon Ash, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform Andrew Neilson, Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey and Martin Graham, of the Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Service.

Under the chairmanship of BBC Radio Suffolk’s Mark Murphy, the panel agreed that Suffolk’s first police and crime commissioner must serve to set priorities without interfering with the role of the chief constable.

The county will go to the polls in November to choose between Labour candidate Jane Basham, a former chief executive of Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality, and Conservative runner Tim Passmore, leader of Mid Suffolk Council.

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Lord Tebbit shared his concern that the role of the police and crime commissioner “could go horribly wrong” if the chosen candidate attempted to make a mark politically.

Before the meeting Lord Tebbit had pushed the issue of capital punishment back up the political agenda by calling for the death penalty to be available in certain circumstances.

Mr Passmore told the East Anglian Daily Times there should be more debate on the issue.

But he added: “I do feel it is something that should be back on the agenda.

“I think it is something that should be considered by the judiciary in certain circumstances.”

Mr Passmore said he would not want to link it to Tuesday’s tragedy – and accepted it would be best to consider this at a less emotive time.

Labour’s Jane Basham said she agreed with the views of Mr Hanson on capital punishment.

Mr Hanson aired his opinion on the matter during a visit to Ipswich Rape Crisis Centre. He said: “I have always voted against capital punishment because I do not think there are any circumstances under which the state should take a life.

“I understand why the families of victims of tragedies like we saw yesterday feel this way, but I do not support these calls.”