SPARKS flew at the first Police and Crime Commissioner hustings at the University of Portsmouth.
During a heated debate the six candidates for the controversial £85,000-a-year role pitched their policies in a bid to win over voters.
More than 50 people packed a room at the university’s St George’s Building in High Street, Old Portsmouth, for yesterday’s event.
Candidates are Labour’s Jacqui Rayment, deputy leader of Southampton City Council and ex-chairwoman of Hampshire Police Authority, as well as Tory Michael Mates, who was Conservative MP for East Hampshire from 1974 to 2010.
The pair face opposition from UKIP’s Stephen West, a special constable and Lib Dem David Goodall, who has been re-elected three times as a councillor.
Independent candidates are retired solicitor and partner of an international law firm Don Gerrard of the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party and Simon Hayes, chairman of Crimestoppers Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and past police authority chairman who was a Tory district and county councillor and leader of New Forest District Council.
While five candidates used their allotted time to explain their policies, Tory candidate Michael Mates who spoke first, came under fire from opposition candidate Don Gerrard who claimed Mr Mates used only three minutes of his allocated time to set out his stall – which is prioritising tackling offences involving violence, drugs and rural crime.
Candidates were quizzed by students, staff and local figures on plans for policing as the force bids to save £54m.
Dave Russell from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences said: ‘The commissioner is someone who should be accountable for how crime is dealt with, is tackled, in our counties in Hampshire. This represents one of the biggest changes to police governance for over 50 years.’
Jacqui Rayment’s campaign supports front-line policing, opposes cuts and vows to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Don Gerrard promises to fight corruption and abuse of power and ensure victims are better supported.
David Goodall will concentrate on neighbourhood policing, bringing in more, smarter technology and greater partnership working.
Simon Hayes’ focus is on cutting reoffending, restorative justice, boosting the front line by 200, tackling anti-social behaviour and violence, burglary and theft. And Simon West promises ‘zero tolerance’ to anti-social behaviour, cutting crime, supporting victims and more neighbourhood forums.
POLICE and crime commissioner elections are to be held on November 15.
The chosen candidate will take office on November 22.
The move will see 41 commissioners take office in England and Wales, with only the City of London retaining its police authority.
London Mayor Boris Johnson will take on the PCC’s responsibilities relating to The Met.
PCCs will hold police to account on behalf of the public, hold their chief constable to account for their force’s performance and provide a local link between the police and communities.
The PCC will receive all police-related funding and be responsible for how it is spent after consulting the chief constable. Duties include setting a Police and Crime Plan and council tax precept.