Avon & Somerset PCC candidates confirmed: Why they say you should vote for them…

THE final list of candidates hoping to be the next Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon & Somerset has been confirmed.

Residents will head to the polls on Thursday, May 2, to elect the role, which oversees policing in the region, including Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council, South Gloucestershire Council and Somerset Council areas.

The four candidates standing in the Police and Crime Commissioner election for Avon & Somerset are:

  • Benet Allen, Liberal Democrats
  • Katy Grant, Green Party
  • Clare Moody, Labour and Co-operative Party
  • Mark Shelford, Conservative Candidate – More Police, Safer Streets

To vote, residents must be on the electoral register. If you are not, you have until midnight on Tuesday, April 16, to make sure your details are resgistered and correct.

People can also cast their ballot in a number of ways – in person, by post, or by appointing someone they trust to vote in their place, known as a proxy vote.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on Wednesday, April 17, and for a proxy vote the deadline is 5pm on April 24.

Voter ID is also required in the PCC elections. Anyone without accepted photo ID wishing to vote in person will also need to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate.

Those who are registered to vote at the polling station but have not got an accepted photo ID can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate before the deadline at 5pm on Wednesday, April 24.

Will Godfrey, Police Area Returning Officer for the Avon and Somerset Police Area, said: “This is an important election for our area, so please make sure you’re registered to vote in time for the deadline.

“You can vote either at a polling station, by post or by proxy. If you wish to vote in person, please remember you will have to take accepted photo ID with you.”

What the Avon & Somerset PCC candidates say:

Benet Allen – Liberal Democrats

“I was born in Taunton, and returned to the area in 2014 after a career in TV News to live with Sally and our lovely Democratic Dogs.

“Formerly deputy leader of Somerset West and Taunton Council, a leading light in the local male voice choir and involved with local charity fundraisers for Musgrove Park Hospital, I am familiar with the place where I live and make it a priority to understand the issues and concerns of people living there.

“The Liberal Democrats understand that there’s more to solving crime than ‘looking tough’. We’re offering a programme based on care across all government agencies to give young people a better start than a life of crime.

“Policing is about priorities, and there are no quick fixes. Promises are too easy to make, and too easy to break.

“It’s going to take a long, dedicated effort to get the best out of our police, and to repair relations with the community. Every crime matters, and we need to focus on ‘broken windows’ – small crimes that damage confidence and trust, but also work on improving prosecution rates for serious and violent crime.

“At the same time, we need to fix the police. The recent documentary series ‘To Catch a Copper’ and many violent crimes by serving officers that you’ve seen on the news, are signs that all is not well with the police.

“We need an end to the climate of complacency. It’s time for change.”

Katy Grant – Green Party

“I am a councillor in Bristol, and an Avon and Somerset magistrate. Before that, I worked for 20 years with the UN on child protection and violence against women in conflict and humanitarian settings in the global south.

“As Police and Crime Commissioner, I will focus on:

  • Preventing crime; working with community, schools, youth service providers and families to tackle the structural/social causes of crime, especially knife violence. I want to see trusted, neighbourhood police officers participating in community-wide actions to provide young people with alternatives. The police will play a role at all levels, as community support officers in schools, joining peer group support plans, building resilience.
    Better police presence in the community in the aftermath of violence, with enhanced services to families of victims.
  • Improving results on the prosecution of sexual violence, domestic violence and assault; I will make sure we have the systems to deliver (and metrics to demonstrate) greater safety for women and girls in their homes and on our streets. This will include specialist outreach to prevent child exploitation and abuse.
  • In rural areas, I will strengthen policing of county lines drug operations, and reduce related violence in Somerset towns. Rural police teams need better resourcing to prevent agricultural theft, burglary, vandalism and wildlife crime.
  • I will ask the police to lead on a collective commitment to a five-pillar Vision Zero strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities in Avon and Somerset. We will work with councils, schools and others to prioritise road safety.
  • Improved performance and standards within the force; This will include greater independence for misconduct panels. I will work tirelessly with the Avon and Somerset Police to get closer to and regain the trust of the communities we serve.

Clare Moody – Labour & Co-operative Party

“Labour will restore community policing after 14 years of Tory neglect.

“We will increase the number of neighbourhood police and PCSOs by 13,000 nationally, with guaranteed police patrols in town centres and every community in our area having a named officer they can get in touch with.

“Many of our streets feel less safe than ever, and over 14 years under this Government the police have grown more distant from the people they serve.

“The Tories are putting up your council tax again, while cutting PCSO numbers by 80 and police staff by around 200 in Avon & Somerset. They are letting people down across our region in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

“My priorities, if elected with your support on 2 May, are:

    • Investing in neighbourhood policing: Building safer communities and helping to prevent and solve crime.
    • Supporting victims of crime: Making sure victims are properly listened to, and get the help they need when they need it.
    • Prioritising reducing violent crime: The scale of violent crime, including knife crime and violence against women and girls, isn’t inevitable but it needs focus and commitment to fix it.
    • Preventing crime: Working with agencies across the public sector and civil society to prevent crime and build safer communities.
    • Restoring trust and confidence in the police: Enabling the police to take pride in high standards.

At the last election Labour were just 5% behind the Tories. A vote for anyone else just lets the Conservatives back in.

My experience means I am best placed to restore the public’s trust in the police and be the voice of our local communities in policing – I will be visible and accountable to you.

Mark Shelford – Conservative candidate – More Police, Safer Streets

“When elected as your PCC in 2021 I promised more police officers, a relentless focus on tackling serious crime and to listen to every community.

“I have brought my 32 years of experience in military service to focus on delivering excellent policing and making Avon and Somerset an even safer place to live.

“I have DELIVERED on those promises and more:

  • 1,500 new police officers have been recruited, delivering an extra 500 officers focused on Neighbourhood Policing and CID investigations.
  • There has been a 300% increase in the number of rape cases reaching the courts – a major achievement by the new courageous Chief Constable I appointed in 2021.
  • Avon and Somerset is the top performing constabulary in England for disrupting illegal drug activity thanks to Operation Scorpion.

“New police stations are being opened in Bath and Minehead, as well as major refurbishments to the Yeovil station and the Trinity Road station in Bristol, making the police more accessible to the public.

“But there’s still more to do.

“I have a long term plan to continue making Avon and Somerset safer for all residents. If elected for the next four years I will continue my work on:

  • Increasing the support our rural communities need to fight rural crime.
  • Prioritising educating young people through school programmes on the dangers of knife crime and criminal exploitation to keep our younger generations safe.
  • Reducing reoffending through perpetrator rehab programmes and helping prisoners gain employment skills for a better chance on release.

“So, on May 2, use your vote for the candidate who has a track record of combatting crime and the experience to keep making Avon and Somerset a safer place for everyone.”

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.