Among the four elections across Merseyside on May 6 is the vote for a new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
The incumbent, Jane Kennedy, is stepping down, and four new faces are vying for the role.
The PCC has a variety of roles in the region, including appointing the Chief Constable and chairing the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board.
Last month, Jane Kennedy appointed Serena Kennedy as the new Chief Constable after former Chief Constable Andy Cooke, having served in the role for 36 years.
The PCC is the public, accountable face for the police, but the role has been criticised for encouraging political interference with the force.
Their powers are limited, as the PCC cannot instruct the Chief Constable, they only set out an agenda, and the Chief Constable decides what strategies the police will use to tackle issues.
Supplementary Voting will be used for this election. This means voters will choose their first and second choice of candidate when filling out their ballot.
A full description of the voting system is available here.
Meet the candidates:
Bob Teesdale, Conservative
A former Merseyside police officer, Bob Teesdale’s manifesto includes pledges on tackling knife crime and anti-social behaviour.
Hailing from Southport, he’s also included a pledge on ensuring police resources are distributed evenly across Merseyside, rather than concentrated in the city centre.
He said: “There is a feeling amongst people everywhere other than Liverpool that they’ve got a bit of raw deal from policing.
“Outlying areas like West Kirby on the Wirral, they only get the police if they’re called. So we’ve got to look at how the money is distributed.
“We need to make sure people feel safe.”
Another area he wants to focus on is road safety, and he spoke about increasing traffic patrols to control traffic on high streets.
He said: “This is a blight that no one is paying any great attention to.
“It isn’t only about using police officers. It’s about putting money into the community.”
He also advocates for the use of Stop and Search, stating that police should have the power to stop anyone if they match a description provided by a witness.
He said: “If it used properly, by officers who are trained to use it properly, there shouldn’t be a problem.
“It is not acceptable, and has never been acceptable, to randomly stop someone because of the colour of their skin.”
As a Conservative, known for their financial responsibility, Bob Teesdale believes he can make better use of the money which is provided to the Merseyside Police.
He said: “It is eye-watering, the cost of the police. And that money does not come from the famous magic money tree, it comes from the public.”
“We stand for personal accountability and social responsibility.”
You can read his full manifesto here.
Malcolm Webster, Reform UK
Also a former police officer, Malcolm Webster bases his manifesto around the police treating all the citizens of Merseyside equally.
He said: “If you ask anyone: ‘Do you think the police treat anyone differently?’, whether that be based on skin colour, religious background, whatever, 99% of people would say yes.
“It doesn’t matter which group they feel it is, they’ll say yes. But in a society with a functioning police service the answer should be no.
“Everyone, no matter what, should be treated exactly the same.
“There needs to be a complete redress of how we police.”
Other promises include a more visible police presence, with more officers out on the streets.
He said: “Politicians have been promising more bobbies on the beat in every election for the last 20 years, and they still aren’t doing it.
“The new Chief Constable gave that speech about concentrating on organised crime gangs, and they do have a terrible effect on people’s lives. But at the end of the day they are a very small percentage of what police deal with on a day-to-day.
“90% of the information police get on what is going on in communities comes from their contact with the public.
“If you’re not out there engaging with them, it makes things much more difficult.”
He also wants to discourage police resources being used recording “non-crime hate incidents”.
“If something does not fall into the category of a crime then it should not be recorded by the police and investigated. You can’t investigate someone for saying something if it isn’t a crime.
“It’s like the thought-police in 1984.”
You can read his full manifesto here.
Emily Spurrell, Labour
The Labour candidate’s manifesto is geared towards tackling violence against women in Merseyside.
In particular, Emily Spurrell wants to focus on working with victims of domestic abuse and modern slavery, and challenging hate crimes.
She said: “The problem at the minute is funding. We need responsibilities, but it all needs to come with funding, and at the moment it doesn’t.
“We still have a real cultural issue around it as well, specifically with domestic abuse.
“If, for example, you see someone who is killed with a knife, then that is all over the news, and yet, there was a weekend where three women were murdered, and it didn’t really get talked about until some of the domestic abuse agencies started calling for it to be marked.
“There is a real issue that we don’t take it as seriously or acknowledge it as being the level of violence that it is, and I think until we do that there will be a constant challenge in terms of victims coming forward.
“Fundamentally you need to change the culture.
“Domestic abuse is just one type of violence against women and I am keen to look at the whole spectrum.”
Her manifesto also includes visible and accountable policing and creating a fair and effective criminal justice system.
“Obviously COVID has had a massive impact on the way trials have had to be held and so many have been delayed, but actually there have been problems in the criminal justice system for a long, long time.
“I would like to see us take a bit more of a pragmatic public health approach to the system. There are lots of people who are going to prison and getting sentences for really stupid things.
“So I would like to focus much more on out of court disposals, where we say we aren’t going to send you to prison because that isn’t going to help anyone, they get sent to counselling or job training or something else to actually help them.”
You can read her full manifesto here.
Kris Brown, Liberal Democrat
Like his Lib Dem counter-part running to be Mayor of Liverpool, the crux of Kris Brown’s manifesto is that, if he is elected, he will immediately begin campaigning to abolish the role.
He said: “The engagement for PCC and the appetite just isn’t there.
“In the first PCC election in 2012, I was campaigning in a part of Southport for it, and at about two o’clock one of the polling stations had had two people who had voted in that election.
“I could walk out onto the street now, and ask someone ‘Can you tell me who the PCC in Liverpool is?’, and I guarantee most people will have no idea. Some probably won’t even know that we have a PCC.
“So by abolishing it we would save the bureaucracy of it all. There are four elections going on in Liverpool City, and I don’t think we need to have that.”
He suggests a Greater Manchester-style system to replace it, with the PCC powers split across the council.
Beyond ideology, there is also a financial argument.
“We would save £800,000 a year if we scrap this role, and stop paying for the PCC, the deputies, the whole office. That money could be spent on community policing.”
In the meantime? His manifesto includes pledges to stop wasting police time on minor drug offences.
“We have got to have a grown up debate about cannabis rather than simply saying ‘drugs are bad’.
“Should we be spending our resources and time on a 16-year-old who smoked a spliff on a street corner once in his life, or should we be dealing with more serious issues?”
He also wants different parts of the local government in Liverpool to work together more.
“We get stuck in this idea that the council does this and the police handle that, and I want to bring that together a bit more. We should be working far more closely together on things.”
You can read his full manifesto here.
Merseynewslive’s round of the Mayoral candidates can be found here.
(Feature image credit: image under licence by Tony Hisgett)