Kent Police & Crime Commissioner: Your simple guide and FAQs
08:20 15 November 2012
Not sure what it is? Read our clear guide to what it is, why you should care and who to vote for...
Q. Who is the Police and Crime Commissioner?
A. Currently Kent’s police force is overseen by the Kent Police Authority – like most other police forces across the UK.
The Kent Police Authority controls the budget for Kent Police, hires the Chief Constable, sets key targets and monitors the force.
The Government, however, is keen to see this role become more accountable to the public. So the Kent Police Authority will be dissolved in November and be replaced by the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner.
They will have a similar role but also become responsible for governing the local police force and holding the Chief Constable to account for the performance of Kent Police. He or she will have the power to hire and fire the Chief Constable.
They will pick up an £85,000 salary and be able to recruit a team to work around them.
Q. So why should I care?
A. Because the role is an important one and everyone is going to get the chance to have their say by voting for them.
Crucially, and a key point of controversy, is that by virtue of it being an elected role, it means the job becomes political and, fear critics, this means decisions could be swayed not by local issues and concerns but by political motives and influences.
This may, or indeed may not, have a considerable impact on the way our police force operates.
It is important to note the PCC will not run the police. But they will hold the force to account and “be the voice of the people”.
The Chief Constable will remain responsible for all Kent Police operational matters. However, the PCC will draw up and publish a police and crime plan, setting the policing priorities and detailing how and where money will be spent. In addition, they could opt to commission services – potentially privatising parts of the force.
Q…and why should I vote?
A. It is widely accepted that the turn-out for the inaugural election on polling day, November 15, will be poor. Some suspect as low as 20 per cent – in other words one in five of the population.
It is, therefore, quite possible that even a minor political party which is able to mobilise its vote most effectively could spring a surprise. And that person would then be a major influence on the way our police force is run for the next four years. Only you have the power to ensure the right man or woman gets into office.
Q. Why haven’t I heard much about it so far?
A. Probably because, unlike most elections, the rules are a little different here. Firstly, candidates had to fork out £5,000 to run, which meant rather than lots of independent folk standing, it came down to those with political parties behind them and the power and financial clout to stump up the costs. In addition, the rules say there will be no free mail-shot. Another big blow to lesser known candidates.
Q. When is the election?
A. Polling day is Thursday, November 15, from 7am-10pm. Polling stations will be at similar venues to those in which you cast your vote for General and local elections. If you are on the electoral register you will soon receive your voting form with your polling station address printed on it.
Future elections are likely to be held at the same time as local elections.
Q. How will the vote work?
Rather than just placing your ‘X’ next to one candidate, for the PCC vote, you will be able to make both your first and second choices on the ballot paper.
This will make your second choice potentially an election winner.
After all the first choice votes are initially counted, any one candidate with over 50 per cent of the vote will be named the winner.
If they have not reached the 50 per cent mark, the two candidates with the highest number of first preference votes will go forward to a second round of counting.
In the second round of counting, ballots with a first preference for a candidate that did not get into the top two will be reallocated according to the second preference indicated in the ballot paper.
Whichever of the top two candidates has the most votes after these second-preferences have been allocated is declared the winner.
In short, you vote for your preferred choice but if they get knocked out early, your second vote could be the one that puts another candidate in power.
Q. When will we hear the results?
A. Although final details have to be confirmed, the votes will be transported to Dover where the count will take place. The result is expected to be made during the day on Friday, November 16.
The winning candidate will not take up office until November 22.
Q. So who can and should I vote for?
A. That decision is one you must come to after considering what’s important to you and what you believe will best benefit your local community.
The finalised list of confirmed candidates is below, with a brief outline of their background. We’d recommend you go online and read up on all the key candidates as well as just what the job entails.
Q. I understand that, but who do you think will win?
Purely given Kent’s currently political make-up it will be hard to see beyond the Conservative candidate. However, a small turn-out and the two choices on each ballot paper, could quite easily see a surprise result. If Tories are disillusioned by national politics they could steer clear altogether - or look to lodge a protest vote by backing the Ukip candidate or an independent. Yet the smaller parties will be smelling blood. If they can activate their vote and encourage them to get to the polling stations, it is possible that Kent may find itself with an unexpected Police and Crime Commissioner.
Worth noting is that if just 20 per cent turn out to vote, a candidate could romp to victory by polling half of those votes. In other words, just 11 per cent of those eligible to vote, and who go to the both of exercising their democratic right, could be enough to secure a victory.
Name: Ann Barnes
Party: Standing as an independent
Job: Former teacher
Lives: Lyminge, near Folkestone
Background: Former chair of Kent Police Authority; former independent deputy chair of the National Association of Police Authorities.
Pledges: Relentless focus on cutting crime and catching criminals, free of party political interference. To fight any government cuts to Kent Police, and to give the electorate a bigger say in the way communities are policed with the introduction of local police boards and consultation before changes to are introduced.
Name: Dai Liyanage
Party: standing as an independent
Job: Police recruitment consultant
Background: Member of Kent Police Authority; former Mayor of Medway; served on Kent County Council, Medway Council, and Gillingham Borough Council.
Pledges: To catch more criminals by engaging with the community more effectively, better equipment for officers and redeploying resources. A safer and calmer community through liaison between schools, parents and police to deal with vandalism and more “bobbies on the beat”.
Name: Craig Mackinlay
Job: Chartered accountant
Background: Medway councillor; member of Kent Police Authority; magistrate.
Pledges: Zero tolerance to drugs and antisocial behaviour; strongest action and sanctions against drug dealers, and support for drug users. He promises regular public meets attended by the PCC, senior police and criminal justice system chiefs, as well as cutting down on bureaucracy.
Name: Steve Uncles
Party: English Democrats
Job: Contract manager in the health sector
Background: South East area chairman for English Democrats; Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator.
Pledges: To introduce “benefit of the doubt” policing, giving individuals defending property or family members the benefit of the doubt unless evidence their actions were excessive. Would declare the county a drug-free zone and remove all fixed police speed cameras.
Name: Piers Wauchope
Job: Criminal barrister
Lives: Tunbridge Wells
Background: Tunbridge Wells councillor; served for eight years as a Tory councillor in Camden.
Pledges: A clear commitment to prioritise drug-related crimes and antisocial behaviour, with a clear plan on crime reduction and defence of frontline policing. Is determined “to restore real policing values” by re-establishing the police in the community and working to ensure there are more police on the beat.
Name: Harriet Yeo
Job: Charity fundraising manager
Background: Ashford councillor; president of Transport Salaried Staff Association; chair of Labour’s National Executive Committee.
Pledges: No privatisation of Kent Police and ensuring criminals are both punished and rehabilitated. She promises to visit every constituency twice a year to speak to a wide variety of groups and act as a facilitator between communities and the officers who serve them.