Suffolk: Police commissioners candidates face the public ahead of election

SUFFOLK residents got the chance to put their questions to the candidates battling for the role of the county’s first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

Around 100 people packed into the St Nicholas Centre in Ipswich last night to quiz the four candidates - Conservative’s Tim Passmore, Labour’s Jane Basham, UKIP’s Bill Mountford and Independent candidate David Cocks - in the debate organised by BBC Suffolk and the East Anglian Daily Times.

Heated debate ensued as questions were fired at the candidates from members of the audience covering issues such as why they should be elected as Suffolk’s PCC, potential privatisation of the police and former Scotland Yard boss Ian Blair telling the public not to vote in the PCC election.

Discussing the relationship between the PCC and chief constable, Mr Mountford said: “The operational integrity of the police should not be interfered with.

“I see myself as doing what I already do as a county councillor. Crime affects everyone’s day-to-day life.”

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Speaking about police budget cuts Mr Passmore told the audience: “You don’t solve problems by chucking money at them.

“We, as a nation, are in dire straits financially, but by pooling resources and co-operation and collaboration, money will be brought out of resources each year.

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“We should be looking to get more special constables, as we have a good track record for that, and they have the same powers as full-time officers.”

Mr Cocks pledged to not allow officer numbers to fall further.

He said: “We are a relatively small police force and one thing we can’t do is to allow officer numbers to fall further.

“It’s very important to retain the numbers and find a way to deploy more resources.”

Speaking about privatisation Ms Basham said she is completely opposed to the concept.

“Nobody should profit from crime and there are already examples in Suffolk of how privatisation has not worked,” she added. “We need to engage with staff as some have really interesting ideas to save money and that’s where we should start.”

The PCC will have the responsibility for leading the strategic direction of local policing, working alongside chief constables.

People will head to the polls to cast their vote on Thursday, November 15.

The debate will be broadcast on BBC Suffolk at noon today.

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