Wales politics

Alun Michael seeks nomination for commissioner election

A former policing minister has said he wants to stand in the election to become south Wales' first police and crime commissioner.

If nominated as Labour's candidate Alun Michael would stand down as MP for Cardiff South and Penarth before the election, triggering a by-election.

Elections for the £85,000-a-year commissioner post are due in November.

Although Labour opposed creating commissioners, Mr Michael said they had to be made to work.

The new commissioners will replace the existing police authorities after the elections on 15 November.

Labour will field candidates in all four Welsh force areas.

Mr Michael, a former Welsh secretary who became first minister after devolution in 1999, said policing was being hit by cuts that were "too fast and too deep".

"Few aspects of the public service are more important than the police, for we invest them with significant powers but we expect them to risk their lives to protect individuals and communities," he added.

"Governance of the police is a key issue in a democracy, and whether we think that the creation of police commissioners is a good idea or an expensive diversion at a time of massive cuts, the legislation is in place, so it's going to happen and we must make it work."

Former First Minister Rhodri Morgan endorsed Mr Michael's ambition.

"Alun has shown a lifetime of passionate commitment to policing and crime reduction issues. That applies both on an England and Wales basis and on a local south Wales basis," he said.

Other candidates could include Plaid Cymru's leader in Westminster Elfyn Llwyd, expected to make a decision over whether to run in north Wales over the next few weeks.

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP said he was considering to standing after coming under pressure from supporters.

Plaid Cymru chair Helen Mary Jones said despite the party's council opposing in principle the change, it would "attempt to build a coalition with other like minded groups" to field non-party candidates who support devolving policing powers and who were opposed to the "politicising of the police".

The salary for the Gwent and North Wales police commissioners will be £70,000, and £65,000 in Dyfed-Powys.

Although being introduced by their coalition UK government with the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats say elected police commissioners are not party policy.

Welsh Lib Dem members standing as candidates will not receive party funding.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Conservatives are still considering their position on fielding candidates.

The elections will create police and crime commissioners in 41 force areas of England and Wales, outside London.

Duties will include setting priorities for their police force, overseeing its budget and hiring the chief constable.

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