Meet the candidates battling it out in the hotly-contested election to be crowned North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner
The battle lines are drawn in the hotly-contested election to be crowned North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, as Lucy Leeson reports.
What do a managing director, a former RAF officer, a disability campaigner and a retired police officer turned bank investigator have in common?
They are the four candidates vying to become the next North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) in what has been tipped to be the most hotly -contested election since the role was introduced nearly a decade ago.
Hoping to take the reins on May 6, from incumbent Conservative PFCC Julia Mulligan are Conservative candidate Philip Allott, Liberal Democrat candidate James Barker, Labour candidate Alison Hume and Independent candidate Keith Tordoff.
With 47 per cent of people in North Yorkshire stating they don’t think police take rural crime seriously, a continued rise in county lines drug dealing and a force with the lowest charge rate for domestic abuse cases, it is no surprise these are they key priorities for candidates, and despite a nine per cent fall in overall crime in the last 12 months, candidates are united in the fact more needs to be done.
Mr Allott - the managing director of a specialist PR and marketing agency has set out a six point plan to tackle crime, focusing on how the new uplift of 200 police officers are deployed, as well as dealing with antisocial behaviour, burglary and - what he believes is most important - county lines.
The Conservative candidate said: “The thing I am interested in is making the drug dealers lives a misery. In many cases there is intelligence and we can use that intelligence to stop vehicles on suspicion, particularly cross-border.”
Mr Allott said he would push for further work to enable teachers to spot pupils who are part of County Lines drug dealing.
The Liberal Democrat candidate said: “We hear time and time again that people aren’t seeing police on the streets. I want to address that. I want to work in a more joined up manner where we try and prevent crime before it starts by working with social workers, mental health charities and GPs. When all these bodies come together you get best value for money.
“I’ve received a number of complaints over the 101 non emergency phone line. I’m aware people find it awfully frustrating and therefore my big concern is people won’t use it, because it’s not really quite fit for purpose.
For York-based lecturer and disability campaigner Ms Hume, funding and violence against women are key priorities.
The Labour candidate said: “My priority at a national level will be to fight for a better share of the funding pie for the police and fire frontline, because at the moment both are really disadvantaged.
“The domestic abuse bill is finally going to become law and I really hope it will make women and girls safer because every three days a woman is brutally murdered by a partner, ex partner or family member. It is a silent epidemic and tackling it would be a priority if I was elected.”
The Independent candidate said: “People feel they are not being listened to. The crimes aren’t being investigated and the complaints aren’t listened to.”
He believes locating the Rural Task Force to more-rural areas and at the county’s borders, as well as better use of technology is the key to tackling rural crime and county lines.
Mr Tordoff said: “The Rural Task Force is under resourced, so we need more officers. We also need the use of technology - certainly cameras, drones and number plate recognition to target these crimes. A lot of this technology can also be used to tackle county lines and makes it so we can actually cover our borders because we cover such a wide area.”
With a 17.3 per cent cut to North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service over the last five years - making it the second-worst funded in the whole country, all four candidates have pledged to campaign for more government funding, citing fears for not only the public’s safety, but firefighters as well.
Ms Hume said: “Our service is running at a deficit and it doesn’t have enough full-time firefighters. I would fight hard on behalf of the firefighters and the support staff to secure substantial and sustained national funding. We cannot move forward without money.”
Mr Tordoff said his first job if elected would be to prepare a case to put to the council and government to show the budget needs to be increased on the grounds of safety.
Mr Barker also spoke of the importance of retaining fire service staff. He said: “If you retain staff, well, you don’t need to spend money on recruiting.”
As well as an increase in government funding, Mr Allott believes a small increase in the fire precept is needed. “It would be a very small precept increase, but it would make a fantastic difference,” he said.
With pressures on budgets unlikely to disappear for North Yorkshire’s emergency services, it is clear it won’t be an easy job for whoever takes the reins.