Scilly Left Out Of Police Commissioner Electioneering

A nationwide shake-up in the running of the Police means islanders will be able to vote for an elected Police commissioner in November.

There will be an £85,000 a year salary for the post-holder who will replace the current Police Authorities.

He or she will control Devon and Cornwall Police’s budget and could hire and fire the Chief Constable although that role will retain control of day-to-day operations.

But one of the six Conservative Party candidates for the job says he feels Scilly could easily be overlooked in the process.

Paul Biddle says there are no plans for public debates between the Conservative hopefuls planned for Scilly, even though forums will be held in Devon, Cornwall and separately in Plymouth.

Paul says he’ll be interviewed with the other applicants by all of the region’s Tory MPs on the 23rd June and will find out whether he’ll get to the final three candidates under consideration.

The Labour Party hasn’t included Scilly in their public meeting process either. Their two finalists attended hustings in Exeter and Camborne and party members will pick either Plymouth Councillor Nicky Williams or Torquay party official Patrick Canavan tomorrow.

MP Andrew George says it’s early days for the Liberal Democrats as they are still choosing their final list but he admits there are unique reasons why Scilly needs to be covered in any plan for hustings, as we have different policing issues.

Scilly’s Council Chairman Mike Hicks says our Council fought hard to retain direct input and successfully argued for a seat on the Crime panel along with large unitary Council’s like Torbay and Plymouth. Mike says he’ll be encouraging all finalists to come and be quizzed by islanders ahead of the election.

He’s says he’s not a fan of electing American-style commissioners as political party candidates, claiming politics could influence decisions more and Mike feels the current Police Authority balances seats between the different parties.

Paul Biddle says there’s been little reference to our islands in documentation with only Devon and Cornwall being named. He’s researched the role and he claims he will address that omission if he is chosen by the party and is elected by the people.

On the islands, there is currently one special police officer. Paul says he’d like to see more volunteers supporting paid personnel as he believes citizens can play a much bigger role.

There are around 800 specials already in the region’s force and he thinks that should rise to 2000.

Paul says he’s not looked into Scilly’s policing in detail but believes that low crime areas like ours shouldn’t loose resources in the future, but should actually be rewarded for keeping their communities safe. He wouldn’t tamper with the current structure, he says.

He believes in grassroots community policing and small, rural low-crime parts of the region like ours shouldn’t be sidelined for the greater populated areas where there are more votes to be gained.

But at this stage, it appears that the only input islanders may have in the process is when we get to vote for the candidates chosen by the political parties in the November ballot.