On November 15 residents will vote to choose the region’s first Police and Crime Commissioner. But who is running for office and what will the change mean? RHIAN WALLER reports...
THIS month North Wales will elect its first Police and Crime Commissioner.
The new post will replace the existing police authority and see the elected candidate take up wide-ranging powers.
But with rural police stations under threat and cuts in the offing, what will this mean for residents and how will it affect the way our police force is run?
The authority consists of 16 members, made up of councillors and independents. They are paid an allowance between £6,456 and £25,179 and work together to resolve issues.
he North Wales Police Authority scrutinises the police, providing a link between the public and the force, holding the chief officer to account and helping to keep the organisation up to standard.
With the introduction of a single Police and Crime Commissioner, that role will be filled by a single person on an annual salary of £70,000.
According to the Home Office: “The Government’s intention is to give the public a say in policing in their area through the ballot box. The PCC will hold police forces and chief constables to account.”
The successful candidate will hold the post for four years and they will publish a police and crime plan setting out the objectives of the force area and handling the police budget.
They will have the authority to hire and fire chief constables (currently Mark Polin in North Wales) who will remain responsible for operational matters. The PCC will be scrutinised by a panel made up of at least 10 local authority representatives.
UK Policing Minister Damian Green described the role as ‘an important new democratic right’, but it has drawn criticism.
Selwyn Griffiths of Porthmadog, who recently stepped down as a member of the North Wales Police Authority, said he had doubts about the number of people who would turn out to vote and how well the public understood the role.
Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Ian Blair is among high profile figures who called for a boycott of the ballots.
But Graham Harper, who chairs Flintshire Neighbourhood Watch Association, urged people to vote, adding: “This new role is vital to ensuring the vast sums spent on policing reflects community priorities and proper public accountability is exercised.”
The North Wales candidates
Standing as: Independent
Background: Mr Roddick, who grew up in Caernarfon, served as a beat officer in Liverpool before studying law in London and becoming a barrister. He was the Recorder of the Crown Court on the Chester and North Wales circuit and is about to stand down as a judge. He was Wales’s first Counsel General and helped write the first Welsh Language Act. Hobbies include fishing and walking.
Policy: Mr Roddick said he believes the most pressing concern for the public is security at home and in public places. He emphasises the need for a visible police presence on the street and opposes closures of police stations in villages and towns. He opposes the idea of privatising the police force.
Quote: “We should leave police work to the men and women who are trained and experienced in the profession. They can do it. They can deliver.”
Based: Craig y Don, Conwy
Standing as: Independent
Background: A businessman based in Llandudno for 20 years. He is the founding director of Integral Business Support Limited and runs a national training programme for mental health professionals. He has no previous work or voluntary connection with the police and is a keen musician.
Policy: Mr Hibbs is keen to raise public confidence in policing which he believes is at low ebb, in order to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward with assurance. He has pledged a £20 council tax rebate to North Wales residents, which will be taken from police reserves. Mr Hibbs advocates a ‘Scandinavian style’ zero tolerance to drugs and is calling for effective policing and treatment for drug and alcohol abusers.
Quote: “I am the only candidate completely independent of the police. This is a huge advantage, because what the Police Commissioner needs to achieve is to rehabilitate public confidence in policing.”
Based: Rhos on Sea, Conwy
Standing as: Welsh Labour
Background: Until March 2012, Tal Michael was chief executive of North Wales Police Authority. Prior to this he held senior positions in various local authorities. Mr Michael has been a local councillor and also worked as a researcher on police and crime at the House of Commons. A Welsh speaker, he enjoys cycling and hill walking.
Policy: Mr Michael said his priority will be to fight central government cuts, which he believes will undermine police abilities. He promises to put victims and witnesses at the heart of policing and the criminal justice system, ensuring they are supported. He wants victims to be kept informed and to have an effective voice, while developing a policy of openness and honesty within the force.
Quote: “If elected, I’ll be out and about talking to local people and police officers in the communities which suffer most from crime and making sure that they are working together to solve problems.”
Standing as: Welsh Conservative Party
Background: Irish-born Mr McCabe is a long standing resident of Summerhill, Wrexham, and a Welsh citizen. He served as a Special Constable with the North Wales Police and was appointed Chief Officer, Special Constabulary in 2011. He has more than 20 years’ experience in business planning, budgeting, procurement and operations in his sports and amenity management business. Mr McCabe is a founder of the Empowering Youth Foundation charity.
Policy: Mr McCabe said his first policing priority is to tackle the drug culture in communities across North Wales with a zero tolerance approach to drug use, sale and supply. He aims to tackle anti-social behaviour, particularly in the early hours of the morning, and believes effective policing of road use and driver behaviour must be a priority.
Quote: “I am committed to leading and supporting the excellent work North Wales Police officers do day and night to ensure North Wales is a safer place for all our citizens.”
Standing as: UKIP
Background: On leaving school Mr Nicholson started work as an apprentice joiner, but later joined the Rochdale Borough Police Force. He transferred to the Lancashire Constabulary, later amalgamated into the Greater Manchester Police, and served on the force for 31 years in ranks up to Inspector and retired in 1995.
Policy: Mr Nicholson said he will be tough on crime, including the low-level nuisance and anti-social behaviour that blights neighbourhoods. He pledges to work to put more police officers on the street, secure more Special Constables rather than ‘powerless’ PCSOs and give local people a say in policing priorities. He also intends to stop the ‘war against motorists’ by employing speeds cameras only in blackspots where speed related deaths have occurred.
Quote: “This election could make or break the police force. We really need someone who will stand for policing as we want it to be.”
How to vote
Registered voters will receive a polling card before November 15 with details of their polling station.
The supplementary vote system, which is used to elect the Mayor of London, will be used in the PCC election.
You will be asked to choose a first and second preference. If no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the first preference votes, the top two candidates will go to a second round.
In the second round, if your first choice candidate was eliminated, your second choice will be then be allocated a vote. This will carry on until a candidate has enough votes to win.