Original article from Kent Live
Alongside today's (May 6) local elections, the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) election is also taking place, with three candidates putting themselves forward in Kent.
The role of the PCC as an elected official is to oversee their police force, hold the Chief Constable to account, and ensure police services are being delivered effectively.
Here in Kent, voters will have the option to elect one of three different candidates for the role.
Matthew Scott, the current PCC in Kent, is running for re-election while Lola Oyewusi and Graham David Colley are also running as candidates.
The three candidates represent the Conservative Party, Labour and Co-operative Party and Liberal Democrats respectively.
The term of the current PCC, Matthew Scott, will come to an end on Wednesday (May 12), with the newly-elected or re-elected candidate taking office next Thursday (May 13).
The elections were due to take place in May 2020 but were postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Matthew Scott's term extended to May 12, 2021 as a result.
With the election taking place today, KentLive has compiled some information about each of the three candidates to help you make a decision when voting for the county's new PCC.
Matthew Scott – Conservative candidate
Matthew Scott, the current Kent PCC, lives in the county with his wife and two children.
He comes from a policing family and says he understands "what officers and staff need".
He has run a community association, served as a school governor, been an active local councillor, has experience setting up a business, and is chairman of a national company.
He is also a successful mental health campaigner, advising the government on issues relating to mental health and policing, and has secured changes in the law which he says will "better support those living with mental health conditions."
Matthew's focus is on "making Kent safer" and he has "recruited 665 more police and 50 more PCSOs" during his term. He says this has led to reductions in crime including burglary, knife crime and antisocial behaviour.
He also says that during his term, "drugs gangs have been shut down. More offenders are being charged and brought to justice. And there has been substantial investment in resources to tackle violence."
He wants to do more to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour, and if re-elected PCC he says he will:
- Recruit another 300 Police Officers and ensure they are active in our urban, rural and coastal areas
- Work with residents, businesses and communities to prevent and reduce crime and antisocial behaviour
- Expand the popular Police Cadets scheme for young people and bring back teams of Schools Officers
- Make our streets safer for all road users
- Boost the support available for all victims of crime and abuse
- Tackle gangs and county lines and get drugs and weapons off our streets
Lola Oyewusi – Labour and Co-operative candidate
Lola Oyewusi has experience working for a housing association, leading a local charity, serving on her local parish council and being active within her church.
She says this gives her the "life experiences to ensure the concerns of residents across Kent are at the heart of policing and community safety."
Her top priority is to "keep you, your family and your community safe" and, if elected, says she "will always be on the side of victims and the voice for the voiceless across Kent."
Lola wants to "tackle the Tory rise in violent crime" and says "Labour will toughen sentences for rapists and end the injustice which means someone can get ten years less for murdering their partner at home, than for murdering someone on the street."
She has five clear pledges:
- Tackling knife crime and county lines
- Getting the resources Kent needs
- Supporting the Chief Constable with a constructive but independent relationship
- Supporting rural and coastal communities
- Creating a police force for all
Graham David Colley – Lib Dem candidate
Graham Colley has been a parliamentary candidate for Mid-Kent twice and for Rochester & Strood in the 2019 General Election.
He is a former Kent County Councillor and co-chair of the Kent Fire & Public Protection committee, President of Liberal Democrat Lawyers and studied Law at Aberystwyth, European Law at the College of Europe.
He also has an MBA from City University Business School and a research degree in Banking Reform from the University of Kent.
Graham worked in the city and has been a legal aid lawyer in Lambeth, Westminster, and Chatham.
Having previously lived in Maidstone and Lenham, he now lives in Rochester with his two cats, Schnapps and Crackers.
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He believes that "Kent Police have a large budget, and the PCC must be vigilant to ensure that it is well spent."
He is standing for neighbourhood policing to be from the ground up, not the top down, looking for radical solutions to tackle the root of the problems that face police, and seeking efficiency but caring for the police force who serve us.
- Crime policy must be based on the evidence of what works
- Strengthening neighbourhood policing as a local policing presence gives people confidence that their safety is being cared for
- More preventative work is required, particularly through joined-up working with other public services
- Too many victims of crime still have a negative experience in the system
- Too many criminals are not required to confront their behaviour
- More action is required to tackle violence against women and girls
- Too few prisoners receive effective pre-release support and re-offending rates remain unacceptably high
- A new preventative, health-based approach is required to tackle drug and alcohol misuse
- Stop and Search remains a source of deep mistrust between the police and the public