Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire candidates put cases forward at Uppingham Neighbourhood Forum hustings event
Candidates vying to become Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire put their cases forward at a hustings event in a bid to secure votes at next month’s election.
On Thursday last week (April 22), Uppingham Neighbourhood Forum staged a hustings ahead of the election for the Police and Crime Commissioner role on Thursday, May 6.
The three candidates fighting to be the head of policing in Leicestershire and Rutland were present at the virtual Zoom event.
Each candidate was given 10 minutes to give a brief description of themselves and set out their policies and pledges.
First to take the virtual stage was Labour and Co-operative Party Candidate, Ross Willmott.
Ross got his first taste for politics at the age of 21 when he was elected as a parish councillor. Since then he has stood as a county and city councillor as well as being leader of Leicester City Council for a number of years.
His main areas of focus, if elected, are ‘having more police on the beat’, crime prevention, listening to people’s needs and stopping domestic violence.
“I will be making sure public services are safe,” he said.
“My watching word is making sure we are cutting crime not cutting public services.
“I am standing on that platform as I have my life.”
He added that in the role he wants to ‘stand shoulder to shoulder with communities’.
After finishing his speech, the Labour candidate was quizzed on how he will find the funding for more police officers.
He answered that if he were elected he “would not employ expensive political advisors” and would have a “slim office operation”.
He added that he would find ways to work in partnership with local authorities.
Ross said: “I will argue with the Government all the time, whether that’s of my own complexion or Conservative.
“I will happily speak on behalf of the communities I represent.”
With Rutland being a predominantly rural community, a member of the audience wanted to know what Ross could do to prevent thefts from farms.
Ross believes it comes down to organised criminals knowing the length of the police response time as well as helping farmers protect their land.
Shortly after, Ross exited the meeting due to other duties as the clerk to a parish council.
It was then turn for Liberal Democrat candidate, James Moore, to convince the virtual crowd to vote for him.
The Glaston resident works as a teacher of history and politics at the university of Leicester and told the voters that the reason he is standing for the position is because he is “frustrated with the direction policing has gone in the last decade”.
James previously campaigned against the closure of Oakham Police Station, and if he was elected he hopes to make the station more accessible to the public.
The average salary for a police and crime commissioner is between £70,000 and £85,000 as well as additional costs going towards the running of the office.
“If I’m elected I will not take the full salary, I will only take the equivalent of what I earn at the moment,” pledged
James has also vowed to re-name the police force to include Rutland, which he believes is ‘an important symbolic change’.
Last to share his plans was the Conservative candidate Rupert Matthews, who is a historian by trade but has a vested interest in politics. He was a councillor for many years before becoming a member of the European Parliament.
He explained the role to the voters: “The job is to represent the public to the police to make sure the chief constable who organises the operations understand the concerns of the public.”
Adding that while the job of police and crime commissioner would be ‘daunting’, being a voice for the public is enjoyable.
As a historian, he also reflected on the initial merging of Leicestershire and Rutland Police forces about 60 years ago.
Rupert said: “The change of name was a real mistake.
“It’s reflective that Leicestershire is much more important than Rutland, and that crime in Rutland is low so didn’t need to be worried about.”
In response to statements about people’s quality of life being affected by low-level crime, he explained plans to bring in officers with a knowledge of the local
He said: “There’s a huge opportunity to have a much larger force of specials at the moment.
“That will allow specials to be in the community where they come from.
“Rutland is a prime example of where that could work really well.”
James and Rupert remained on the call after the hustings had finished to observe the Uppingham Neighbourhood Forum meeting.