Foundations laid for new police role

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MORE needs to be done to promote awareness of the new Police and Crime Commissioners, a meeting heard.

More than 140 representatives from local authorities, criminal justice bodies and community groups gathered to discuss issues and lay the foundations for the new role.

The commissioners, who will be elected by the public later this year, will replace police authorities and be accountable for how crime is tackled in their police force area.

At a seminar at Suffolk Police headquarters, in Martlesham, on Wednesday, the police authority gave interested parties the chance to find out more about the role and explore the implications of the reforms.

Joanna Spicer, chairman of Suffolk Police Authority said: “People are worried that politics is going to play a big part in police for the first time. People are concerned that the public are not going to get interested enough to turn out to vote, which was a matter for discussion. ”

Concerns over the level of public interest were echoed by Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, who spoke at the meeting.

He said: “It’s quite clear that Government ministers will have to do more to promote awareness of the benefits of electing a police and crime commissioner. There are clear benefits – this reform will link the public more closely to the police who serve them. The commissioner will be elected by every adult in Suffolk and will have a mandate to tackle the issues that most concern the public especially anti-social behaviour.”

Mrs Spicer said she was ‘extremely impressed by the level of attendance’ at the meeting.

She added: “It shows that community organisations are keen to be fully prepared for the changes and understand their role within this new process. Once in place, the commissioner will engage with partners to produce a Police and Crime Plan. The seminar provided an excellent opportunity for us to discuss how best to satisfy these requirements and how partners can influence future arrangements. We also explored future policing and community safety needs and priorities. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure that the transition is smooth and successful.”

The elections will be held on November 15 with the commissioner taking their role on November 22.