Martin Stilwell, chair of Surrey Neighbourhood Watch, offers his thoughts on the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner election and urges us to use our vote.

On Thursday May 2 many of us have elections for local councillors. These elections are also to appoint the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner. “The Police and Crime who?” you might ask. 

Every Force area, with some exceptions, has a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). This is a political appointment every four years and we, the public, can vote  for any of the candidates.

So why is it important that we vote? The PCC carries out key functions, such as setting the strategy that the Chief Constable has to follow and appointing a new Chief Constable, or retaining the existing one).

The Commissioner manages the police budget using strict guidelines and a set formula. This formula was created many years ago and is no longer fit for purpose in regard to policing costs, demographics or council tax.

As a result of this formula, the people of Surrey contribute a higher proportion of the annual police funding from council tax than anywhere else in the country. Successive Surrey Commissioners have tried, and failed, to get this formula changed. 

The Commissioner does not run the police day-to-day as that is the Chief Constable’s job, but has to ensure that the Chief Constable manages the approximately 2,300 uniformed officers and 1,900 staff in Surrey well.

It is for us, the public, to vote for the person we think would make the best Commissioner.

In the UK we are fortunate that we are free to vote for whom we want. Neighbourhood Watch is non-political and cannot make any suggestions or recommendations. It is for the candidates to persuade you to vote for them. Please use your vote well.

Candidate profiles, page 15