Police and crime commissioner vote will end uncertainty
Ben Hatton Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: Archant
Delayed from last year, the election of a new police and crime commissioner brings to an end a disruptive period for the office.
Both the commissioner and his deputy resigned in the previous term over separate controversies.
May 6 will see an end to the uncertainty with the election of a new police and crime commissioner.
In 2016, and also decided by supplementary vote, when the second preference votes were counted, the Conservative Jason Ablewhite won with a total of 81,581, and Labour came second with 72,480. UKIP came in third.
The role provides political accountability for the police service.
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That includes setting the budget and taxation and policing objectives.
The police and crime commissioner also the power to appoint and dismiss the chief constable and to hold them accountable for the operational management of the force.
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Mr Ablewhite resigned in late 2019 following a complaint made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct over allegations which related to messages sent to an adult member of the public over social media.
The Crown Prosecution Service announced no further action would be taken and Mr Ablewhite was not prosecuted; and at no point was he arrested or charged with an offence.
Mr Ablewhite’s original deputy Andy Coles resigned in 2017.
The Guardian reported that a complaint was made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, alleging Mr Coles deceived a woman into a sexual relationship while working as an undercover police officer.
Mr Coles has denied the allegation.
Mr Ablewhite’s second deputy, Peterborough councillor Conservative Ray Bisby, took over following the commissioner’s resignation in 2019.
But Cllr Bisby received a less than enthusiastic welcome, with the independent chair of the county’s police and crime panel publicly doubting his credentials for the top job.
He assured the public that Cllr Bisby would not have powers to start new initiatives.
The arrangement was supposed to last only six months, but with the election delayed by a year owing to the pandemic restrictions, Cllr Bisby remained in post much longer than anticipated.
The Conservatives have a new candidate this time round, who will compete with candidates from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Reform UK.