Tory police commissioner takes helm
AVON and Somerset’s new police and crime commissioner has promised to “shout and scream” for more funding for the force and has already spoken to the Home Secretary.
Conservative candidate Mark Shelford received 34.4 per cent of first preference votes and was elected after second preference votes were counted, beating Labour’s Kerry Barker.
Former Cotham councillor, Cleo Lake, secured 16.4% of first preference votes for the Green Party and came third. Heather Shearer polled 13.3% for the Liberal Democrats and independent candidate and former deputy to Sue Mountstevens, John Smith, received 11.7% of first preference votes.
He is only the area’s second PCC, taking over from independent Sue Mountstevens, who stepped down after nine years in the role.
The PCC sets the strategic direction for the force and one of Mr Shelford’s first tasks will be to appoint a new chief constable after Andy Marsh announced he would leave in July for a new challenge.
Asked what qualities he is looking for in a new chief constable Mr Shelford said: “Somebody that exudes leadership and command and has unshakeable belief in the Peelian principles of policing.
“They need to have all the qualifications, knowledge and experience. Key to me is the leadership piece.
“Andy Marsh has been an exceptional leader who has really changed Avon and Somerset for the better. He came in at a difficult time when there had been quite a few chief constables and morale was quite low.
“He had to deal with a really difficult time and led exceptionally well.”
A key challenge for police over the last year has been handling protests during successive lockdowns.
The new PCC has said he wholly supports the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill – which has sparked riots in Bristol – as it reinforces “the British people’s right to peacefully protest but not to disrupt, so those people going about their lawful business should not be affected by a protest”.
by Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter