May 2016 PCC elections: Four in the frame to lead West Midlands Police

Four candidates are set to go to the polls next week in a bid to become the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

May 2016 PCC elections: Four in the frame to lead West Midlands Police

There are four men up for the £100,000 a year job, that was set up in 2012 to replace the role of the old police authorities.

The incumbent is David Jamieson, a former transport minister under Tony Blair, who won a by-election in August 2014 following the death of former Wolverhampton councillor Bob Jones.

He received more than half of the first preference votes on a turnout of just 10.38 per cent.

Mr Jamieson is back to contest the post once again with a vow to recruit 1,000 new officers by 2020.

He said: "Neighbourhood policing lies at the core of keeping our communities safe. Residents need to know officers and PCSOs in their area. Working closely with local people our police can help create safe places to live, work and bring up our children.

"I want our police to have the latest technology to help them tackle crime in a rapidly changing world."

As was the case in the 2014 by-election Dudley councillor Les Jones makes up the Conservative opposition. He will be looking for an improved showing on his 26.8 per cent share of the vote.

He was a late candidate for the Dudley North constituency at last year's General Election where he came second to Labour's Ian Austin.

Mr Jones says he has a 'plan' to improve policing in the West Midlands and if elected will work closely with the Government to get 'the best possible deal' over funding.

He has launched a 'common sense plan' as part of his manifesto, with the aim of improving policing through the better use of technology, protecting frontline policing by reducing 'back office bureaucracy and ensuring neighbourhood police target crime hotspots.

"Some people may feel that policing in the West Midlands is too focused on our larger cities," Mr Jones said. "It is vital that all corners of our communities are reached by the police and that policing is tailored to specific needs."

UKIP's Pete Durnell will contest the post for his party. The chairman of the UKIP Sandwell branch is also standing for election as a borough councillor on the same day.

Mr Durnell has pledged to make crime easier to report, bring back community policing and guarantee transparency and scrutiny.

He said: "The nature of crime in the UK is constantly changing, it is essential a PCC can 'think outside of the box' and keep abreast of new technologies and develop approaches to improve policing.

"I will give 100 per cent commitment to the role to ensure the necessary accountability at all levels of policing, its operational focus and delivery, and its management and record on financial performance."

Independent candidate Andy Flynn has courted controversy in the lead up to the elections when he shared a number of inflammatory posts on his Facebook page.

They included a sickening slur against the mother of Madeleine McCann and another that called for a boycott of 'Moslem' take-aways. One post he wrote suggested Israel was behind terrorist attacks on Christians to stir up Islamic hatred.

Mr Flynn maintains he has done nothing wrong and has blamed the press and 'other candidates' for trying 'to associate me with far fight politics'. But in a recent post he wrote: "...large parts of our media are owned by Jewish people and a disproportionate number of establishment figures are Jewish. I was warned that I would have a hard time if i criticisised (sic) Israel freemasonary (sic)."

Mr Flynn has pledged to restore public trust in the police service by making West Midlands Police more accountable to the people it serves and to reduce crime by ensuring 80 per cent of uniformed officers' time is spent on duty, patrolling or actively policing the wider community.

He wants to create a task force dedicated to tackling police corruption and says he aims to see 'policing and the law is applied evenly regardless of race, class or wealth'.

He added: "It is important to tackle the problem of police corruption identified by a recent government report which states around 2.5 per cent of serving officers are involved in organised crime. To this end, I pledge to establish a special police unit with the responsibility of weeding out the bad apples who tarnish the reputation of the other 97.5 per cent of officers."

This year there is no Liberal Democrat or Green Party candidate for the post.

The lead up to the elections has been dominated by the suspension of deputy PCC Yvonne Mosquito over allegations she visited a murder victim's family without informing officers.

An investigation into potential gross misconduct is ongoing.

Polling stations open on May 5, the same day as the local council elections – with the result announced the following day.

West Midlands Police has faced £130 million cuts since 2010. And our budget is being cut again.

I am getting all I can out of every pound. The independent policing inspectorate named West Midlands Police as 'outstandingly efficient'.

The personal qualities that I would bring are excellent listening skills, combined with strong, decisive leadership and the ability to bring different groups together in order to achieve key goals.

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