Vera Baird: why we should vote in the PCC elections
As part of her campaign to become Northumbria Police’s first elected Commissioner and to promote the forthcoming election as a whole, Vera Baird revisited her old hometown recently and dropped in to speak to The Ambler. Vera lived in Amble in the mid 1980s before becoming MP for Redcar, and she was Solicitor General in the previous government.
The new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) roles begin this year, and the public are being asked to vote to decide who should take up the posts. This is one of those occasions where many people may wonder what’s the point, but understandably Vera has strong feelings on the duties involved.
“The job will entail consulting the public to find out what they want from their local police and put that into a five year plan. Every community should be consulted” she told The Ambler.
Once the public’s opinions have been sought, the Commissioner will then work in partnership with the Police and the Local Authority to draw up the five year plan.
Victim support, crime prevention and crime reduction will now all fall under the PCC’s remit, so prioritising how money is allocated will be fundamentally important.
“Five years is realistic for targets” says Vera, “the Police Commissioner will pass the plan on to the Chief Constable and then it can be measured. The Commissioner will then go back to the public and see how it is being delivered. The job provides a visible link between the public and the police.”
But she feels there is a lack of awareness about the election, and puts it down to poor advertising by the government. “If you invent a completely new post, you need to promote it. People won’t vote if they don’t know what it is.”
Vera believes the new role is much more accountable, since the Commissioner can be removed at the next election, which will generally be held once every four years, at the same time as other local elections.
“This election might be quite quiet” she says, “but I think next time there’ll be a great deal of interest.”
The election to choose the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner will be held on 15th November. A full list of candidates can be found here: http://www.choosemypcc.org.uk/candidates/area/northumbria?postcode=NE65
The Ambler does not endorse any candidate.