Suffolk: Tories line-up to take on �70k police role

SUFFOLK’S Conservatives have drawn up a shortlist of three possible candidates to seek election to become the county’s first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in November.

Council leaders Tim Passmore and Ray Herring will be up against former NFU Mutual boss David Card in the battle to be the Tories’ standard bearer in the historic election.

Whoever who is chosen will be up against Labour’s Jane Basham and any independent candidates in the election – the Liberal Democrats have said they will not be contesting what they believe should be a “non-political” position.

The Conservative shortlist was drawn up after a long selection process.

Initially about 12 Conservatives put their names forward for consideration to be the party’s nominee for the post.

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From this a long list of nine was drawn up, and this was subsequently reduced to the three-man shortlist.

There will be an open selection meeting in July to give anyone from Suffolk the chance to have a say in who should be the Conservatives’ standard-bearer in the election.

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The PCC in Suffolk will be paid a salary of �70,000 a year and will take on the role currently filled by the county’s police authority.

The winner will be expected to appoint a chief executive and set up the organisation which will manage police finances, monitor, and guide the police.

The PCC will be able to set out targets for policing – but will not be able to influence day-to-day policing decisions.

The establishment of PCCs was a key element of the Conservatives’ election manifesto before the last general election.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley was policing spokesman for the Tories when the party was in opposition, and is very enthusiastic about the new role.

He said: “I keep hearing that PCCs will politicise the police. This claim does not hold water. Ken Livingstone and then Boris Johnson have had similar powers in London and no one says it is a Labour or Conservative police service.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer admitted being dubious about the proposal at first but is now a convert to the idea.

He said: “The way we are policed is a matter of public interest and despite the best efforts of (authority chair) Joanna Spicer who had done a great job the police authority is completely anonymous.”

Ms Basham said it was important that whoever was elected brought the concerns of the ordinary people of Suffolk to the policing role.

She said: “I think there is a great deal of emphasis on the police side, but I want to look at the crime issue as well – looking at how we can reduce crime and tackle it in the community.”

Leading Liberal Democrat Andrew Cann said his party would not be putting up candidates for any PCC elections.

He said: “We feel policing should not be a party political matter. It may be that our members might like to offer support to an independent candidate, but the party itself is not going to endorse candidates in these elections.”

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