The future of policing: it is all down to you

8:45am Tuesday 23rd October 2012

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THE future of policing in Bolton will be determined next month when residents go the polls to elect a powerful new figure.

But campaigners fear the elections will be blighted by a record low turnout.

On November 15, 37 Police and Crime Commissioners will be elected in England along with four in Wales.

Each commissioner will be paid more than £100,000-ayear to scrutinise their local force, will have the power to hire and fire Chief Constables, and will also be able to set police budgets.

In Greater Manchester each of the three main parties have nominated candidates — but anyone is allowed to stand for the role, as long as they have £5,000 for a deposit.

Veteran Labour MP for Manchester Central Tony Lloyd officially resigned from Parliament yesterday so he could contest the role.

Former Greater Manchester Police Inspector Matt Gallagher will be running for the Liberal Democrats, Wigan councillor Michael Winstanley for the Conservatives, Manchester-born lawyer Steven Woolfe for UKIP, and Trafford magistrate Roy Warren, who is standing as an independent. Greater Manchester is the second biggest force in the country behind the Metropolitan Police.

Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy has held the top post since 2008 and it is currently scrutinised by the Greater Manchester Police Authority, which consists of 19 members, including 10 councillors from each Greater Manchester authority, and nine members of the public — including one magistrate. The government claims the new role will make forces more directly accountable to the public, but opponents claim it will politicise policing, with candidates seeking to implement policies that are popular with the public but which may not actually cut crime.

Kearsley councillor Derek Burrows, Bolton’s representative on the Greater Manchester Police Authority, said: “In relation to the position itself, we do not agree with it but the coalition government has decided this is what is going to happen.

“Therefore this is why we are putting candidates forward. “There is a possibility that we could be worse off, because the commissioner is not just getting the police budget but some of the community safety budget the local authority used to get.

“So we are going to have to work with the commissioner to make sure we are not any worse of.”

But the Electoral Reform Society has warned the elections are likely to result in the lowest response in British election history, with a predicted turnout of just 15.2 per cent in Greater Manchester — lower than the national turnout prediction of 18.5 per cent.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society said: “The Home Office seems to think that if you build it, they will come, but this isn’t how elections work. Candidates in Manchester are working hard to engage voters locally but it’s time that the Home Office fulfil their side of the bargain or these elections are in serious danger of descending into a farce.”

● The policies and promises of Labour candidate Tony Lloyd will be examined in tomorrow’s Bolton News.

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