Thames Valley PCC elections: Public's views

Image caption The BBC Police Box has been touring the Thames Valley

As polling day approaches for the first ever Police and Crime Commissioner elections, what factors are influencing the way people vote?

A BBC Police Box has been touring the Thames Valley and inviting the public along to talk about the police and crime issues that are important to them.

Terry Ambrose, of Cippenham in Berkshire, said tackling anti-social behaviour should be "top of the list".

He said he was badly affected by this type of crime when he lived in Britwell.

"There were youths drinking, throwing bottles at my bungalow," he added. "It went on for two or three years. One policeman said to me, 'Here we go again'.

"The police are resigned to the fact that certain areas are bad. But the police know where the hotspots are and I think the police need to put more presence in those hotspots."

Image caption George Crane from Wantage wanted more bobbies on the beat

Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton said there had been "a real focus in reducing burglaries in the Thames Valley" this year.

In future the Police and Crime Commissioner will work closely with her to decide how much of the force budget should be spent in this area and how big a priority this is for the force.

The old adage "more bobbies on the beat" is something communities in the Thames Valley cite as a big priority.

George Crane, of Wantage, said: "I would like to see more bobbies on the beat rather than driving about in patrol cars all the time. More bobbies on the beat so that they can be seen, even on bikes."

'Domestic abuse'

Supt Stuart Greenfield, the Area Commander for Reading, said that committing officers in this way was not always the way to best reduce crime.

He said: "We don't just deal with bobbies on the beat these days. It's an ever more complex world. Domestic abuse, missing persons, mental health issues, our officers are having to deal with all of these issues."

Image caption Bernard Harris from Berinsfield said the elections were a waste of money

Some people came to the BBC Police Box to explain why they had decided not to vote.

Bernard Harris, of Berinsfield, said: "I won't be voting because I think it's an absolute waste of waste of money. The police force runs perfectly well as it is, so why should we pay £85,000 a year plus expenses for a new commissioner?"

Regardless of how many people turn out to vote, Police and Crime Commissioners job will command considerable power.

They will hold the chief constable to account, and will decide on how to spend the Thames Valley Police budget of about £380m.

Voters can find out about candidates on the government's candidate information website.

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