In 2012, only 15 per cent of the Lancashire electorate bothered to vote in the first Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
That was because they were poorly advertised and few people had any understanding of what the PCC role entailed. I sincerely hope there is greater public interest in the next set of elections, which are due to take place in May 2016.
Sometime ago, I gave up arguing that the role should be disbanded, as that clearly was not going to happen, especially after the Tories won the last general election. I think it’s now essential to recognise that the PCC has a very important role and it’s vital Lancashire has a group of high quality candidates fighting to get elected next year.
My ideal candidate would be an independent and someone with wide ranging experience in the public, private and third sector. Being able to show evidence of substantial policing, political and media experience would also be a great asset. As the salary of the PCC role is £85,000 per year that should be sufficient to attract suitable high calibre candidates.
Unfortunately, most independents will be put off from standing because they will be competing against the main political party candidates who will be supported by a slick and established electioneering network. It can therefore be virtually guaranteed the next Lancashire PCC will be either the Labour or Conservative candidate. Whether Labour choose to support Mr. Grunshaw for another five years will be interesting to see or it may be he decides not to throw his hat in the ring next year.
Whatever the case, I think it’s important all the political parties announce their candidates as soon as possible and preferably by no later than January 2016.
The next PCC faces many serious challenges and is likely to be responsible for choosing the next chief constable, as even Steve Finnegan cannot go on forever. They will be engaged in a difficult fight with central government over funding and even to maintain the very existence of Lancashire Constabulary as a separate entity.
The next round of financial cuts will deplete our police service even further and the people of Lancashire’s safety is going to rest firmly in the hands of this individual. That is why more Lancastrians should take interest in this election and help in ensuring we get the best PCC possible.