The new police and crime commissioner for Staffordshire has pledged to make officers and vehicles more “visible” but has not ruled out privatising back office roles.
Conservative Matthew Ellis won the role to set the county’s policing priorities and determine how its budget is spent, beating Labour’s Joy Garner by 51,237 votes to 47,589.
Across the county the vast majority of voters stayed away from the polling stations. Turnout was just 11.97 per cent.
Mr Ellis, who is currently a county councillor for Lichfield and used to run a sports retail business, will take up the £75,000-a-year post as police and crime commissioner on Monday.
He said his priority was to make the police more visible on the streets. “I have the makings of a three-year plan built around visibility and making the police more visible than they are now,” he said.
“Making officers and vehicles more visible will be both reassuring and a deterrent.”
Mr Ellis has also proposed equipping officers with tablet computers, similar to the Apple iPad, in a move set to cost £120,000, arguing that it will save officers 3,000 hours a week in paperwork.
“I’m not necessarily suggesting the iPad brand but rank and file officers say the technology used at the moment could be better.”
Asked if he had a real mandate for the role following such a low turnout he said: “Everybody had the chance to vote. But next time the election will be in May when the weather is warmer.”
He pledged that the work of front-line police officers would not be privatised but has not ruled out doing so for back office functions.
“I’m incredibly sensitive about anything that would make people doubt the independence of the police”, Mr Ellis said.
“Warranted police are the only people who can detain and arrest people. There may be some elements we need to look at which do not necessarily need to be done as part of the police service.”
Defeated Labour candidate Mrs Garner, a councillor in Stoke-on-Trent, will serve as the city’s representative on the new police and crime panel, holding Mr Ellis to account.