Who will be the next police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Lincolnshire? Your vote will decide.
Nominations closed last Thursday, with four candidates throwing their names into the hat – Marc Jones for the Conservatives, Lucinda Preston for Labour, Victoria Ayling for UKIP and Daniel Simpson for the Lincolnshire Independents.
One will replace the outgoing PCC Alan Hardwick, who stood as an independent.
Whoever is elected will be there to act as your voice and hold Lincolnshire Police to account. Their aim will be to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service within their force area.
Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must:
* secure an efficient and effective police for their area
* appoint the chief constable, hold them to account for running the force, and, if necessary, dismiss them
* set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan
* set the force budget and determine the precept
* contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary
* bring together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up
But who will get your vote on Thursday, May 5? Here we speak to the candidates... as they look to win your endorsement...
* Daniel Simpson - Lincolnshire Independents
The Lincolnshire Independent candidate is retired businessman Daniel Simpson, who says he has been used to working seven day weeks in the motor trade.
He says the last election showed that the county wants an independent commissioner, unfettered by national party rule.
Mr Simpson will use his background as an East Lindsey district councillor to scrutinise service provision, explaining: “I have the capacity to know when and where to ask the right questions and to delve down to get answers.”
Mr Simpson accepted there were national demands but was against compromising Lincolnshire’s requirements. He said: “The commissioner holds the purse strings and he has the ability, by using the budget, to influence where priorities occur.”
He would look closely at current contractors such as G4S, to ensure quality, promptness and best value for money. He would challenge local MPs and politicians to stand up for Lincolnshire to improve the under-funded force’s finances, but added: “You can always find areas that need tightening up first.”
He supports demands for more police on streets and a zero tolerance on anti-social behaviour, while offering more support to crime victims.
Priorities include drug addiction and dealing and their consequences; stopping repeat offenders; tackling rural crime and violent crime.
He would also seek to address the perceived poor relationship between public and police and the resulting ‘unreported crime’.
“Policing cannot just be about dishing out crime numbers for insurance,” he said.
He saw the need to look at the police’s ‘bedside manner’ to make officers more approachable, treating people as customers, particularly young people, and listening to their problems.
On the flip side, Mr Simpson said he would challenge prosecutors’ decisions not to pursue some cases or lenient sentences.
He may also devolve part of the budget to parishes for key priorities such as speeding.
He did not agree with bridging gaps with more volunteers, instead suggesting paying more to special constables.
* Marc Jones - Conservative
Tackling rural crime on a tough budget is a huge focus for Conservative candidate and current county councillor Marc Jones.
Mr Jones, who has been campaigning since September, says he has found the run-up to the election – like others – ‘exciting and hard work’ which has left him with ‘a mixture of exhilaration and tiredness’.
He has met a number of people from across the policing and associated sectors and taken on board comments made.
Mr Jones is a huge advocate of prioritising rural policing, and wants to bring in new special constables – referred to as ‘parish constables’ – who would receive training and be permanently based in his or her local community with flexible hours to work around their other responsibilities.
“So, people in the community can get trained up as a warranted officer,” he said.
“These roles would mean if they are from a rural community, they will effectively police that rural community and would not be asked to, for example, work the nightclubs on a Saturday night.”
Asked what key issues he had found while campaigning, he said he had found it interesting that his office had been most contacted over issues with firearms licenses – with more than 40,000 shotguns in Lincolnshire.
“I wasn’t expecting that, I was expecting people to be saying roads and other issues and they are there. Road safety is a significant challenge in Lincolnshire and we plan to put more time and effort into keeping people safe on the roads.”
Mr Jones acknowledges there will be a challenge, with the role overseeing more than 350,000 households and a £115 million budget – but says this second generation of police and crime commissioner candidates have learnt from the first.
He said: “These elections really do matter. It’s a hugely important role and people need to take the time to go and vote. If they don’t the important issues and vital services could be left to chance.”
* Victoria Ayling - UKIP
Strong-minded Victoria Ayling is driving forward her legal and business background alongside her passion to keep Lincolnshire safe in the bid to become the next police and crime commissioner.
The UKIP candidate believes that politics should be kept well out of mind during the selection process in May and only needs to be called upon to lobby hard for an increase in police funding – something she feels Lincolnshire deserves.
Ms Ayling already holds a post of responsilbilty as a county councillor, representing residents in Spilsby Fen, and wants to expand on her contacts across the Lincolnshire area. Ms Ayling wants to reassure locals that she will not be afraid to speak up on their behalf.
“I believe there should be a great deal of transparency and openness within this position,” she said.
“I will lobby hard to get the police funding Lincolnshire needs and I believe that if people know they are safe, they will feel safe.”
She said visible policing – making sure there are bobbies on the beat – is vital and and feels that PCSOs should be utilised in any way possible moving forward.
“I want to increase the use of PCSOs and give them advanced training – I feel their role in the local community is very important,” she said.
Zero tolerance for law breakers, making sure every crime, no matter how small, is taken seriously and cracking down on anti-social behaviour are just some of Ms Ayling’s key proposals to improve Lincolnshire.
She added: “I want to nip crime in the bud early and have a zero tolerance attitude towards policing.
“Many crimes in our area may be small – but should not be dismissed. It’s these crimes that matter to local people I want to make sure we can do all we can to keep residents informed on what is happening.
“Communication is key.”
* Lucinda Preston - Labour
“Vote for me as Lincolnshire’s police and crime commissioner and you’ll elect someone who’ll listen to you and be focused on protecting you and your family.”
These are the words of assistant headteacher and Labour Party candidate Lucinda Preston, who hopes to win your vote in next month’s election.
Lucinda says that central government cuts have left the county’s police force ‘on a knife edge’, but is determined to protect frontline policing, keeping vital police officers and PCSOs in their jobs, tackling rural crime, and – most importantly – allowing people to feel safe in their homes and on their streets.
“We need to cut crime, not police”, said Lucinda. “The force needs more resources, not fewer, so I’ll be fighting for a fairer funding formula for Lincolnshire. I’ll halt any further privatisation of police services, so we’re not putting even more of Lincolnshire taxpayers’ hard-earned money into the hands of big corporations.”
Lucinda has lived in Lincolnshire her whole life and has spent the last 14 years in full-time teaching at Carre’s Grammar School in Sleaford, including as head of English for the past nine.
She says she is ‘far from what you might call a career politician’, and instead has developed a strong understanding for the need to deliver high standards effectively through working with children. If elected, Lucinda plans to develop further links between schools and police to support children making the right choices. She said: “Good policing is about enforcement, but we also need to prevent people turning to a life of crime in the first place.”
Lucinda adds that, if elected, her first act will be to cut her own salary and would accept no more than she currently earns as a teacher – with the sacrificed cash going towards funding community projects to engage young people at risk of offending.
“It’s the opportunity to improve policing in Lincolnshire that I care about, not a fat pay cheque”, Lucinda said.