Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner election: Candidates vow to restore confidence after Philip Allott comments
When former North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Philip Allott sparked outrage over his comments on the murder of Sarah Everard, he did not only damage public trust, but also the trust of his own staff.
In a letter, colleagues said their work was “undermined” by Mr Allott’s remarks that women needed to be “streetwise” about arrest powers which were falsely used by the police officer who murdered Ms Everard.
Now, the five candidates competing to replace Mr Allott at Thursday’s election have set out what they would do to try restore that confidence.
Hannah Barham-Brown, who is standing for the Women’s Equality Party, said: “Like many I was shocked and outraged by Phillip Allott’s comments and I’m glad he recognised that his position was untenable.
“Restoring trust and confidence in the commissioner’s office, and ensuring that ending violence against women and girls is a political and policing priority in North Yorkshire, is exactly why I am contesting the post.
“I am unapologetic in my commitment to tackling violence and intend to transform policing priorities to ensure the needs and concerns of everyone – but especially the most marginalised – are at the centre of my work.”
Harrogate councillor Zoe Metcalfe is the third Conservative hoping to take on the £74,00-a-year commissioner role which was created in 2012.
She said she would restore confidence by “being visible, transparent and open, working alongside our excellent police officers and firefighters”.
Councillor Metcalfe, who is also a project manager for a property company, also made a pledge to “make sure resident’s priorities are put in place to make our streets safer for everyone”.
Emma Scott-Spivey is the Labour candidate and said a “fresh approach” to overseeing police and fire services is needed following Mr Allott’s resignation last month.
She also said she would volunteer herself to be open to recall powers which exist for MPs, but not for commissioners.
She said: “I will be guided by what victims say, what the public says and what professionals on the frontline say. I won’t dodge tough conversations or hide from difficult issues or decisions.
“I will be open, accessible and transparent. And I will make sure our police and fire services take the same approach.
“That fresh approach includes donating 20% of the salary to local causes.”
Independent candidate Keith Tordoff stood in the previous election in May when Mr Allott won by a margin of more than 31,000 votes.
Mr Tordoff, who finished in third place and previously served for 20 years at West Yorkshire Police, said a key part of his election campaign and a way of restoring confidence is to “keep politics out of the police and fire services”.
“This is what I stand for,” he said.
“I’m not in thrall to the vested interests of a political party and people know this. The Tory party gave you their best candidate just six months ago, look how that turned out. ”
Liberal Democrat James Barker also stood in the last election, finishing in fourth place. He said there is “much work to do to rebuild trust” in the commissioner’s office.
He said: “If elected, my priority on day one would be starting the long process of making sure everyone can have faith that the PFCC listens to and supports victims of crime.
“When determining priorities for police and fire services in North Yorkshire, I would seek input from residents and staff to ensure that the police and crime plan for North Yorkshire is genuinely reflective of the needs and concerns of our communities.”
Voters will go to the polls on Thursday (25 November) with the results set to be announced the following day.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter