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More than 250 turn out for police commissioner debate
MORE police officers, keeping stations open and better links with community groups.
A packed crowd of more than 250 people heard the six candidates’ views at the University of Winchester’s The Stripe Theatre.
The people fighting to be elected on November 15 are David Goodall, Liberal Democrat, Simon Hayes, Independent, Don Jerrard, Justice and Anti-Corruption Party, Michael Mates, Conservative, Jacqui Rayment, Labour, and Stephen West, UKIP.
Candidates agreed on some issues and traded barbs on others as they answered questions from the public on budgets, working with young people and a replacement for outgoing Chief Constable Alex Marshall.
Mr Hayes, chairman of Crimestoppers in Hampshire, said he would increase the county’s frontline officers by 200 if he was elected.
He said: “I stand by increasing my policy of increasing police personnel because we can save additional costs when we have that. If we can reduce costs by reducing offending and reoffending then we will have safer streets and neighbourhoods.”
But Mr Mates, a former MP, said this would cost too much money but that achievements could still be made with tight purse strings.
He said: “The budget has been cut for the police but crime has gone down and apprehending criminals has gone up and that means Hampshire police has made itself more efficient.”
Mr Jerrard, a retired solicitor, said keeping police stations open was a priority that would keep police accessible to the public while Mr West, a former special constable, said he would have a zero tolerance policy on antisocial behaviour.
Mr Goodall said he would invest in new technology to catch more criminals and reduce paperwork.
He said: “We can do a lot to reduce offending. Head cameras on police reduced violent crime by 10 per cent, complaints against police by 40 per cent and paperwork by 30 per cent. It can also save money.”
Ms Rayment, chairman of Hampshire Police Authority for six years, said police should reach out through schools to encourage children to respect the police.
She said: “We should engage with the younger age group so they are not frightened of the police and know they are there for their safety.”
All candidates backed the use of CCTV cameras to stop crime while they each vowed to remain independent and not bow to pressure from their parties when making decisions.
The event was organised by University of Winchester student Louis O’Brian who spent the past six months bringing it together and was supported by his fellow journalism classmates.
The debate was chaired by BBC South Today reporter Alex Forsyth.