12:08pm Monday 12th November 2012
By Tim Ridgway
Oneof Sussex’s top retired policemen has claimed the former system of scrutinising officers did not listen to the public.
The county will go to the polls on Thursday, November 15, when more than a million people are eligible to elect the county’s first ever Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
The individual, who will be on an annual salary of £85,000, will be responsible for overseeing the chief constable’s work and holding Sussex Police to account.
Some claim the new system, which will replace a police authority made up of elected politicians and lay members from across the county, is more democratic and accountable.
But others claim it is not needed and a waste of money at a time of Government cuts to the force.
Former chief superintendent and head of Sussex CID Graham Cox said: “I have seen at close hand the shortcomings of the police authority which tended to represent the police force to the public rather than the other way round.
“I think a directly-elected individual is a real step forward as there has been a tendency for senior police officers to tell the public what policing they should have rather than listening to them.”
Mr Cox, who is now a Conservative councillor on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “I’m a bit surprised that people I thought were democrats are against the PCCs.”
But Green councillor Ben Duncan, who is a serving member of Sussex Police Authority, said his experience of the body was the “complete opposite” of Coun Cox.
Coun Duncan, who also sits on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “I do not think there is such a great concern over police accountability for these elections to be held.
“The cost of holding them is around £1 million and I think that’s better spent on actual policing.
“I hope that I’m wrong but I think it’s clear that we’re going to see policing get worse as a result of this election.”
The comments come as some people have expressed concerns about the wording on the voting slip.
The supplementary vote system used means voters will be able, but not compelled, to vote for a first and second choice candidate.
But Neil Kelly, of Tredcroft Road, Hove, said: “I was not aware this was a beauty parade – I had thought we had one vote and were voting for one person.
“I believe the form is misleading. I suspect that a lot of people are likely to be confused and will think they have to vote twice for fear of having a single vote discounted.”
Find out more about the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner candidates and previous stories about the election at www.theargus.co.uk/news/special/policecommissioner
The Police and Crime Commissioners elected on Thursday, November 15 will serve for three and a half years.
Voters can mark off first and second-choice candidates on their ballot paper.
However, as long as one cross is marked in the first-choice column, the vote will be counted.
The candidates in the running for the Sussex PCC are:
Tony Armstrong – UKIP
Katy Bourne – Conservative
Ian Chisnall – Independent
Godfrey Daniel – Labour
David Rogers – Liberal Democrat
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