People in Sussex to elect first ever police commissioner

Policing is an issue which affects everyone and this year it will come to the fore when people across Sussex elect their first-ever police and crime commissioner.

It is one of the most significant police reforms in recent years. Instead of the existing Sussex Police Authority being responsible for policing priorities and budgets, it will be down to one individual, whose work will be scrutinised by a police and crime panel made up of councillors from across East and West Sussex.

So far only two people have put themselves forward for the role: leader of East Sussex County Council Peter Jones and Labour Party member and former adviser to MP Liam Byrne, Paul Richards, who lives in Eastbourne. Elections are due to take place on November 15 this year.

West Sussex county councillor Peter Bradbury, who has responsibility for public protection said: “It is a very high-profile job, I know of a number of people interested in the job but I think very few people have declared themselves publicly as yet because one of the reasons is political parties are making up their minds whether to have a party candidate or whether to support independent candidates. The fact there are very few candidates I don’t think is an indication of lack of interest.”

Mr Richards said it was an important role and he was looking forward to other candidates putting themselves forward.

“We need to have a good spread of candidates so then we can do hustings in different parts of Sussex, have meetings and public enagagement and create a bit of a buzz.”

He said it was vital for people to get involved as it affected every individual.

“This position is massively important: the person who gets the job will have mandate from the whole of the county to organise the police budget and they have the power to hire and fire the chief constable for the county – they are more powerful than any member of parliament and most ministers.”

Cllr Bradbury said: “Police are obviously an important function of our society so I think certainly there are very few people in the country around who aren’t affected in one way or another.

“It is important to remember the police and crime commissioner is responsible for the strategic direction of police locally, not operationally responsible – that remains the responsibility of the chief constable.”

Mr Richards said it was an exciting time for policing, but it would take a while for people to get used to the new role.

“Democracy is in a bit of trouble at the moment. Overall people don’t trust MPs, people don’t turn out in great numbers to vote for councillors. “Policing is something everybody understands and people should take an interest in this election because it affects you.”