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Thames Valley Police authority chairman pulls out of PCC race

Mark Taylor

Reporter:

Mark Taylor

Email:

out&about@newburynews.co.uk

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THE chairman of the Thames Valley Police Authority has pulled out of the race to become the region’s first Police and Crime Commissioner and slammed the entire election process as politicised. Khan Juna said it was impossible for an independent candidate to campaign effectively in Thames Valley. “It is with great sadness that I have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the elections to be Thames Valley’s first Police and Crime Commissioner,” he said. “I put my hat into the ring after much soul searching – and after watching the increasingly politicised campaigning with candidates “on message” from their party HQs and with no “local” manifesto. “Having been a member of the Police Authority for nine years I was very concerned about the possible politicisation of policing in Thames Valley and the subsequent loss of public confidence. “However, despite the Home Secretary’s insistence that she wanted to see high-profile, high-quality candidates from beyond the world of politics, this flawed piece of legislation means that it is impossible for an independent candidate to effectively campaign in an area like Thames Valley with 3 counties, 21 constituencies and 2.2 million residents. “Without a party political “machine” with a network of MPs, councillors (at county, district, town and parish level) and party loyalists practiced in campaigning, the 2200 square miles of Thames Valley presents an impossible challenge. “Without access to party funds, unless an independent has substantial personal wealth or rich friends it would be difficult to raise the funds needed to effectively campaign right across Thames Valley. “These are elections which nobody wanted, which few people know about and which, despite the insincere rhetoric of government, have turned into yet another party political campaign. “With the odds stacked against independent candidates – a challenge exacerbated in Thames Valley given its size and geography – I have made the difficult decision not to stand in these elections. “This is a flawed policy that had been badly implemented and in these political elections I believe that the public are the real losers – uniformed about the election, ill informed about the candidates and what they stand for and with a serious risk of the politicisation of policing.” On November 15 residents of West Berkshire and Thames Valley will head to the polls to vote for an elected Police and Crime Commissioner. It is the largest shake up in 50 years of policing, but the progress has been dogged with criticism of political interference and general disinterested from the public. The Commissioner for Thames Valley will be accountable for how crime is tackled in the force area and “give a voice to the public”, according to the Home Office, which is championing the roles. Prospective candidates in Thames Valley are the West Berkshire Council executive member for community safety, Anthony Stansfeld (Con, Kintbury); Independent candidates Geoff Howard, Martin Young, and Tayo Awe; Gurcharn Singh, from the Police and Crime Commissioners Authority Board; Liberal Democrat Professor John Howson, and Labour candidate Tim Starkey.

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