Why Labour's West Yorkshire mayor candidate Tracy Brabin won't decide on her policing deputy until after election

The frontrunner to be the first metro mayor for West Yorkshire will not decide who would serve as her policing deputy until after the election on May 6.

Labour's Tracy Brabin says she wants to win the election before she makes a decision on who will take on the powers currently held by the Police and Crime Commissioner to hold West Yorkshire Police to account and set its priorities.

Several of the seven candidates have revealed who their policing deputies will be, with Green candidate Andrew Cooper saying voters "deserve to know who will take on the important role...before election day".

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Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen and Labour candidate for the 2021 West Yorkshire mayoral election during a visit to the Ilkley brewery in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. Photo credit should read: Ian Forsyth/PA Wire

But speaking to The Yorkshire Post on a visit to Ilkley this week, Ms Brabin said: "To be really frank, I have to win. So I think those conversations about where the office is going to be, who's the team, all of those decisions can be parked later. I think what's really important is for the community to understand my own priorities around the Police and Crime Commissioner."

She added that public awareness of the role of the mayor - who has powers over transport, housing and skills - was "hit and miss" but that she used the example of Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester to show "you're getting somebody that's going to fight your corner".

She said: “This is a pivotal and a really exciting moment so I’m hoping that I can get over that sense of opportunity and the once-in-a lifetime chance to own our own destiny and have agency over our own lives, and to make people aware that the mayor can change the life of your family for the better.”

Whoever is elected as metro mayor on May 6 following last year's devolution deal with the Government will be one of only a few in the country to assume police and crime commissioner (PCC) powers.

The role of the current PCC, Labour's Mark Burns-Williamson, is to set the objectives of West Yorkshire Police and the force's budget. He also has the power to hire or fire the Chief Constable.

As in Greater Manchester and London, the mayor will appoint a deputy mayor for policing who will have the powers currently held by the PCC.

Ms Brabin, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, said the role was a "really big and important job, it's holding the police to account on behalf of the public".

She said: "So it's going to be victim centred, it's going to put the safety of women and girls at the heart of it, but also to understand the early intervention that needs to be done.

"I was the Shadow Early Years Minister for a couple of years, and I know the impact for example SureStart has on families, and on the destination of those toddlers into young people, and then into teens and adults, that early intervention is really important.

"There is a part of the [devolution] deal that has some budget for that. So that's early intervention work, perpetrator programmes, the Safer Communities Fund, putting the money from crime back into the community into boxing clubs and theatres and music in order to engage young people to stop them ending up in crime. So there's loads to be done but it's articulating my own vision, because the deputy will obviously articulate the mayor's vision."

Guides to the role of the metro mayor and the seven candidates have been posted out to residents in West Yorkshire this week by the county's combined authority, which whoever is elected on May 6 will chair.

Three of the candidates' pages set out who their deputy mayor for policing could be. Bob Buxton of the Yorkshire Party would appoint Dan Woodlock, Green candidate Andrew Cooper would ask Hawarun Hussain and Liberal Democrat Stewart Golton would choose Javed Bashir.