Yorkshire’s first ever police commissioners have vowed to make a success of the position and drive down crime despite critics claiming they lack a mandate and will struggle against more budget cuts looming on the horizon.
With two Labour candidates and two Conservatives now in power at the top of the region’s forces, fears have been voiced that politics will now creep into policing for the first time.
Retired chief superintendent Paul Davison, an Independent candidate in Humberside who received just 600 less first preference votes than its new commissioner Matthew Grove, told the Yorkshire Post he believed having politicians in charge of Britain’s police forces was a “scary prospect”.
Meanwhile Ros Taylor, the former chair of Humberside Police Authority, said the new commissioners face “an amazingly difficult job”.
Yorkshire’s newest police chiefs remained bullish, however, despite public apathy and anger over the new roles.
“I will not be party political in this role in any way,” said Mr Grove, who has handed a sheriff badge by Lord Prescott following his victory last night in the count at Bridlington Spa.
“My job now is to work very hard for everybody, not just the 20 per cent who voted for me.
“People want to be safer and I have got to deliver fundamental improvements for people in the area.”
Labour candidate Shaun Wright comfortably won the race to become South Yorkshire’s first police and crime commissioner, with 52,000 first preference votes more than his nearest challenger.
But there were clear warning signs for the other two major parties with the Tory candidate Nigel Bonson beaten to second place by David Allen for the English Democrats.
There was even worse news for Liberal Democrat leader and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg with his party’s candidate Robert Teal coming last with just over seven per cent of the vote.
Mr Wright acknowledged his party had not wanted commissioners but said he would now be knuckling down with chief constable David Crompton to try to deliver on a series of policy priorities and rebuild confidence in a police force at the centre of controversies surrounding alleged cover-ups relating to the Hillsborough disaster and the miners’ strike, along with failings over the child exploitation scandal in Rotherham.
“My priorities will be the priorities the public raised with me. For example, in Doncaster burglaries were identified, in Barnsley it was antisocial behaviour, in Sheffield it was guns, gangs and drugs, in Rotherham it was antisocial behaviour, domestic violence and child grooming. They will all find their way into the policing plan.”
Mr Wright insisted his clear victory represented a healthy mandate despite less than one in six people taking part in the election and said he would not shy away from sacking Mr Crompton if the force was failing,
Mark Burns-Williamson, who was last night elected in West Yorkshire ahead of Independent candidate Cedric Christie after receiving more than 100,000 votes, has vowed to use the post to fight Government cuts.
“It is a really challenging time”, he said.
“The Government, and this has come out loud and clear on the doorstep, needs to think again about the amount of resources they are giving to the public.”
Yorkshire’s only female commissioner, Conservative Julia Mulligan, said: “I’m delighted but the hard work starts now.
“I have had to work very hard to explain the role to voters.
“This role is about local leadership and getting out there.
“All the structures are in place to make a success of this.”
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