Appalled by comments

First published in Letters

Sir.–With reference to the recent elections for Police and Crime Commissioner, I have to state that as a former police officer and a Hampshire voter, I am appalled by the comments made by Councillor Stephen West following the election result in Monday’s Gazette, November 19.

I do not understand why a member of elected office would put themselves forward for elections for a position that he described as: “While people are struggling to make ends meet and the economy is in the doldrums, the Government has spent millions of pounds on this change which will do nothing to improve policing or accountability in the country.”

Surely, Cllr West must have felt that he could have effected change and been accountable for the actions of Hampshire Police, and lead them forward for at least the next three years?

Or he is stating that although myself and others took time to pledge our votes in this election, they would have been wholly wasted, including if our vote was in favour of Cllr West?

Cllr West also stated that the result was “a landslide of the apathy party.” I find this particular comment completely hypocritical.

Although the amount of information provided by the Government regarding these elections was very poor, which led to a poor turnout of voters (15 per cent nationally), the majority of information I found for myself was through internet research and a very comprehensive article printed by The Gazette, listing all the candidates and their policies.

On the whole, I was pleased that independent candidate Simon Hayes was elected for the role, as I believe the PCC should not be tied to political party rhetoric when making decisions which affect an entire police force, and are free to make change when required without the bounds of political policies and ideologies.–Christopher Say, Rochester Close, Basingstoke.

Looking forward to the challenges ahead

Sir.–Decision-making on policing in communities across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight has entered a brand new era following the election of Simon Hayes as the first Police and Crime Commissioner for our region.

On behalf of the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel (PCP), whose role it is to support and scrutinise the commissioner’s important work, we look forward to working alongside Mr Hayes in his term ahead.

With the election over, and the commissioner having now officially taken up his new post, the hard work now begins, and there will be some important considerations ahead.

With an impartial and inclusive approach, it will be the commissioner’s responsibility to make sure there is an early focus on appointing a new Chief Constable who builds on the success of predecessor Alex Marshall, to maintain their operational independence, and provide ongoing support for frontline policing.

Crucial decisions on the policing budget and strategy that a new Chief Constable will be expected to deliver in the year ahead will also be among the commissioner’s new priorities.

While the concept of the Police and Crime Commissioner is new to us all, I’d like to provide assurance that mechanisms have been established in the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight area which will provide an independent ‘checks and balances' challenge to the work of the commissioner.

With the wealth of knowledge and experience provided by members of the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel, we can move forward confidently, knowing that we are in a strong position to support, question and scrutinise police and crime strategy for the future; as is our responsibility to local communities so that they stay safe and secure for years to come.–Councillor David Stewart, Chairman of the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel, The Castle, Winchester.

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