The race is on to become the person to lead Thames Valley Police.
Six candidates from across the region were announced yesterday and they will battle it out to be police and crime commissioner in the election on November 15.
The role – which has a salary of £85,000 – will include a number of responsibilities including appointing and dismissing the chief constable, setting and updating a police and crime plan and setting the force budget.
It is the first time people in England and Wales will be able to directly elect someone who is responsible for how crime is tackled in their areas.
Amersham barrister Tim Starkey is the Labour candidate, West Berkshire District Council member Anthony Stansfeld is the Conservative candidate, Prof John Howson, a magistrate from Oxford, is standing for the Lib Dems, and salesman Barry Cooper for UKIP.
There are two independent candidates, Patience Awe, from Berkshire, and former Slough borough councillor Geoff Howard.
Mr Starkey, 38, from Chalfont St Giles, said: “My background is in the criminal justice system – I have worked as a barrister, as a defence lawyer, and for the prosecution – and I want to make it work better.”
Mr Stansfeld, 66, from Hungerford, said: “I ran an internationally-known company, I was in the Army.
“I am a councillor and I was on the police authority. So I think I have the experience to do it and I think I can do it very well.”
Prof Howson, 65, who is the managing director of an Oxford-based education research company, said: “It is a new post and it is an important post because it is the democratic face of the police and the accountable part of the police.”
Mr Cooper, 35, from Waddesdon in Aylesbury, said: “I am standing because I don’t want to see the role of police and crime commissioner filled by a mouthpiece from one of the older parties.
“The role is putting somebody in there by law representing the populus view – it is a democratic view.”
Mr Howard, from Bourne End in Buckinghamshire, works as a magistrate in Berkshire and also runs an estate and letting agents.
He said: “I am standing because I think I have the relevant experience to do the job well.
“I am independent – I don’t think it should be political. I don’t feel that whoever is elected should be consulting the party manifesto before making a decision.”
Ms Awe, from Bershire, has worked in banking, teaching and IT, and wants to “ensure that the policing needs of the people are met”.
The last day for residents to register to vote is 5pm on October 31.
Postal vote applications must be received before 5pm on October 31, and proxy applications before 5pm on November 7.
A total of 41 new police and crime commissioners will be elected across England and Wales and they will take office on November 22.
Candidates have the opportunity to withdraw their nomination up until noon on October 24.
The candidates had to pay a deposit of £5,000 to stand, which will only be returned to people who get more than five per cent of the vote Andrew Grant, police area returning officer, said: “With the candidates now announced for the election on November 15, it is a good time to check you are registered to vote so you can have your say on who will represent your community.
“Registering to vote is quick, straightforward and easy and the elections team at your local authority will be happy to help.”
The role of the police and crime commissioner is to:
Hold the chief constable to account for the delivery of the force l Set and update a police and crime plan l Set the force budget and precept l Regularly engage with the public and communities Appoint and dismiss the chief constable
The police and crime commissioner cannot:
Tell the professionals how to do their job – the chief constables retain direction and control of the force’s officers and staff
Dictate who is arrested and how investigations work
The police and crime commssioner will be required to swear an oath of impartiality when they are elected
Voters will indicate their first and second preferences.
If no candidate has 50 per cent of the first preference votes, the two candidates with the highest number of first preference votes proceed to a second round count and second choice votes are redistributed.
The Thames Valley Police area includes three counties – Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, covering 2,200sq miles, 16 local authorities and an electorate of 1.7 million.
Voters will be able to cast their vote in one of 1,465 polling stations.
MEET THE CANDIDATES
Conservative West Berkshire councillor Mr Stansfeld, from Hungerford, sits on the Thames Valley Police Authority.
The 66-year-old served in Borneo and Northern Ireland during a career in the Army before becoming managing director at an aircraft company.
He said he would focus on reducing rural crime and improving household burglary detection rates and added: “I introduced neighbourhood policing as part of my role with the police authority.
“I have the experience to do the role.”
Liberal Democrat. Former teacher Mr Howson has more than 20 years’ experience of the criminal justice system and he is a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and visiting research fellow at Oxford University.
He has experienced crime as the victim of a stabbing, experienced four burglaries and been involved in two road accidents.
Prof Howson said he knows what it is like to be a victim of crime and believes stopping re-offending is the key to keeping police budgets down.
He added: “I want to ensure cases get to court as quickly as possible.”
UKIP Mr Cooper, of Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire, works as a salesman in London.
His intended deputy is David Kennedy who worked for 32 years in the prison serivce, including a term as governor of Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution.
Mr Cooper, 35, said: “I will be an advocate and voice for normal people, completely accessible and accountable to my constituents.
“I will set up mechanisms for consistent dialogue between my office and all of those in the Thames Valley, and will work closely with partners such as Victim Support in this process.”
Independent Ms Awe, from Berkshire, has worked in a number of professions, including teaching, banking and IT.
She has also served as a charity trustee and says she is passionate about volunteering and serving the community.
She said: “I will give victims a voice with the hope of transforming painful memories into powerful motivators and sources of strength, ensure the policing needs of the people are met and work in collaboration with Community Safety Partnerships and statutory agencies.”
Labour Mr Starkey has been a barrister for 11 years and has prosecuted and defended in hundreds of trials.
His key policing priorities include putting victims first and fighting cuts to the police budget.
Mr Starkey said he wants to stop ‘police privatisation’, create a more effective service and keep decision-making local.
He added: “I understand how the criminal justice system works and I want it to work better.”
Independent Mr Howard, from Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, has been a businessman for 27 years and a magistrate in Berkshire for 20 years.
He was a Slough borough councillor for 13 years, during which time he was chairman of the scrutiny committee and cabinet member for resources, responsible for a £100m budget.
He said: “This role should be apolitical. I see my main role as being the link between people in the community and their local police by concentrating on crimes that affect people locally.”