Labour reveals police commissioner candidate shortlists

Police officers on the beat Elections take place in November to decide who should be in charge of police forces

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The potential identities of Labour's candidates for the new police commissioner posts are gradually emerging.

This week the party has completed the shortlisting of contenders in Cumbria, Durham and Northumbria.

In Cumbria I understand the contest will be between Carlisle councillor Michael Boaden and housing association manager Patrick Leonard.

Michael Boaden had hoped to succeed Eric Martlew as the Labour MP for Carlisle at the last election, but the seat was won by the Conservatives.

Patrick Leonard was chief executive of Allerdale Council until 2004, when he left to become a manager of the Carlisle Housing Association.

Former MP

In Northumbria, the two shortlisted candidates are the former Redcar MP Vera Baird, and Sunderland councillor Tom Foster.

As well as being a barrister by trade, Vera Baird was of course a member of the last Labour government as Solicitor General.

She was unseated in 2010 in Redcar by the Lib Dems after the closure of the town's steelworks.

As anyone who follows her on Twitter will know, she's been campaigning hard for the nomination. I understand she has rented a home in the area to make sure she meets the residency qualification.

Vera Baird Former Solicitor General and Redcar MP Vera Baird is on Labour's short list for Northumbria

Tom Foster is a current member of the existing Northumbria Police Authority and has been a councillor in Sunderland since 1998. He's also a former football referee.

In Durham, three candidates have been shortlisted.

Peter Thompson is the existing chair of Durham Police Authority. He has served as a councillor in Durham in the past, and has a background in local government. He's also been a magistrate.

He had opposed the creation of police commissioners in the past.

Ron Hogg is a former Deputy Chief Constable of Cleveland Police but also served as Assistant Chief Constable in Durham. He also held a national post tackling football hooliganism.

Bill Dixon is the leader of Darlington Council and has sat on the council since 1978. He's also a member of Durham Police Authority.

Ongoing investigations

I understand the Cleveland shortlisting will take place next week.

Two local councillors - Barry Coppinger and Sajaad Khan - have said they are seeking the nomination.

That could be the toughest job given ongoing investigations into the force's top officers and officials.

Labour party members will vote by post over the summer to decide who should be selected ahead of the police commissioner poll in November.

The identity of those who'll stand against them is much less clear.

Lembit Opik Former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik has been suggested as a potential police commissioner candidate

The Liberal Democrats may decide not to put any candidates up. The national party doesn't support the idea so won't be financing any campaigns.

It's possible the local parties could still decide to select someone, but so far the only possible name to emerge has been former MP Lembit Opik.

There have been some newspaper stories suggesting he be could be recruited to stand in Northumbria as he is a former Newcastle councillor.

But I have been told that was a suggestion born out of a few late night drinks at the party's spring conference in Gateshead, so may not come to anything.

Untypical candidates

The Conservatives in the North East are looking to spread their net more widely with plans for an open hustings.

The party says it wants to hear from potential candidates from outside the party and outside the traditional political class.

Since the commissioner is their party's idea they will be keen to field high quality but also untypical candidates.

Perhaps that's an admirable aim, but so far I have heard precious few suggestions of exactly who that might turn out to be.

With any Conservative candidate facing a tough task in Labour-dominated Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland, it might not be a big draw.

Cumbria is more winnable.

Some of the smaller parties will be weighing their options too. I understand the Greens have yet to decide whether to field candidates.

Parties with limited resources will need to decide whether it's worth their while as they would have to campaign across large force areas.

Prominent independent

It does seem likely we will see some independent candidates though.

Ray Mallon Middlesbrough mayor and former policeman Ray Mallon has yet to decide whether to stand in Cleveland

Hartlepool mayor and current police authority chair Stuart Drummond hasn't ruled out standing for the Cleveland role.

The most prominent independent - Middlesbrough mayor Ray Mallon - hasn't yet said whether he'll be a candidate.

As a former police officer he has a good CV for the job, but equally he has a history with the force which might make him hesitate.

After we find out who the candidates will be, the next challenge will be to motivate voters to engage in the campaigns during the non-traditional election month of November.

The police commissioners will oversee budgets, set priorities and have the power to hire and fire the chief constable.

Richard Moss Article written by Richard Moss Richard Moss Political editor, North East & Cumbria

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  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Regards the new post of Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner
    once again the political class are looking to create more political positions. This is not needed nor required.
    Can we have the cost of this post in full including all staff salaries office overheads and pensions that go with this non job.
    I am sure that we will have the usual list of candidates looking to line their pockets

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    If there must be a Commissioner, then political direction must be prevented at all costs.
    What a mess.......... If this was the intended outcome then we were hoodwinked; if not, then the correction must be made as a matter of urgency.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    'Just a Bobby' - couldn't agree more. But how do we support the Federation?

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    You just couldn't make this stuff up!

    Force budgets slashed by 20%, and using Regulation A19 to sack the most experienced officers, the remainder have pay and pensions demolished. The "Plastic Plod" CSOs, who travel in pairs and have no power of arrest - are regarded with contempt yet will earn MORE than many police officers whose starting pay is to be cut by £4,000 per year!


  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    So much sense on here already.

    The country, and the press, has shown little or no interest in what damage the govt is doing to policing in this country. Sleepwalking is exactly the right word.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    How can you have localism when the majority of PCCs will be beholden to a particular political party. The biggest danger to our democracy is the centralisation of our poltical parties. The PCCs will end up being controlled by National Party leadership. So where is the local interest? They may be local people but their allegiance is to the centre. Hope I'm proved wrong, but I doubt it

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    We already have a Chief Constable responsible to a Police Authority made up of elected representatives.
    Why an elected Police Commissioner, able to sack the Chief Constable and decide policing priorities?
    There is no 'democratic deficit' under the present system.
    Another example of how our political class are in thrall to the US social model.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    The PCC elections will be the most fundamental change to Policing this country has known since Sir Robert Peel crated "bobbys". The whole country is sleep walking into this ! We are giving absolute power to one person. How is that democratic ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I agree with the first post 100%. We need less politics in our lives not more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I would plead with The public to back The police federation of England & Wales in stopping The gov. from turning the best police service in The world in to a political entity. Windsor must be stopped before the police service is ruined. My colleagues are despondent and desperate to quit the role they love and believe in. We stand daily to help and protect you, please help us in our hour of need.



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