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The race is on for top police role
THE line-up for the region’s new £85,000 police and crime commissioner job has been revealed.
The three main political parties have now announced their candidates – although more independents could still come forward.
Bids for the Thames Valley Police post come from an Oxford Liberal Democrat, a Conservative from Berkshire, a Labour candidate from Buckinghamshire and two independents.
Commissioners, who will be elected on November 15, will replace police authorities in every force in England and Wales and will oversee how forces operate.
But in May, Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton expressed concerns the public was not interested enough to vote.
The Lib Dems were the last of three top parties to announce their candidate on Monday.
Their candidate – John Howson, a magistrate who lives in Oxford – has been the victim of a stabbing, four burglaries, and two road accidents.
Last night he told the Oxford Mail: “I think people will take this election seriously and more people will vote than expected.
“The work police do is so important to people even if they have never needed to use it.”
The ex-geography teacher and former head of education at Oxford Brookes Universitywas stabbed in the back and in the stomach in front of his class by a former pupil at a school in London in 1977.
Mr Howson said he would invest in tackling the causes of crime – drugs and alcohol addiction.
He said: “Helping to stop re-offending is the best way to keep down police spending in the future.”
Tim Starkey, a barrister from Amersham, is the Labour party’s choice.
He said he was worried the public would not turn out to vote, adding: “There are important issues at stake and it’s a challenge communicating that to the public as it’s a new role.”
He said he wanted to prioritise fighting domestic violence and create a sexual assault referral centre in Oxford.
Tory Anthony Stansfeld, a West Berkshire District Council member, said his goals were to cut crime, catch criminals, and keep the costs down.
He said: “I understand the money and I understand the police.”
Voters will get a first and second choice.
Gurcham Singh and Headington gun collector Martin Young have also put themselves forward as independent candidates.
The Greens have chosen not to enter the race over cost concerns.
Graham Smith, Thames Valley Police Federation chairman, said the role must not be politicised.
He said: “What I cannot support and would never support is political interference with the office of Chief Constable.”
He added: “It’s important the public engage with it because the decisions this person will make in relation to how much is spent with policing the strategic direction of the force is massively important.”