A COUNCIL leader is “seriously considering” running to become Hampshire’s first elected police commissioner.

Conservative chiefs have been pressing Fareham council’s Sean Woodward to run on the party ticket.

Given the strong Tory support in Hampshire, Cllr Woodward would be favourite for the £85,000-a-year job if he did put his hat in the ring for November’s elections.

The Fareham Sarisbury representative, a councillor for 26 years and the lead Conservative on Hampshire Police Authority, said he was “flattered” by the support he has received.

He told the Daily Echo he would focus on core crimefighting, insisting officers should not be “glorified social workers”.

Cost-saving – including cutting the force’s current annual mileage of five million miles – would also be a priority.

He said: “I've been approached by a number of people saying they think I should do it. I’m very seriously thinking about it. I had an email from the party a couple of days ago saying ‘let us know by the end of the month’.

“It’s an area I have a great interest in, and for the person doing it, it will be a very exciting role.”

Elected police commissioners have been a controversial proposal by the Government, with critics saying the move risks politicising the force and undermining the chief constable.

There are also fears that candidates would stand on a specific ticket and focus on certain areas of the county. All of the main parties are expected to field candidates, with independents also likely to run.

Cllr Woodward, who would almost certainly stand down from Fareham Council if he was elected, said the current Hampshire Police Authority was “invisible, to all intents and purposes”.

Outlining his priorities for the force, he said: “What are police for? Quite simply, they are there to catch criminals and deter crime. Anything else is a nice bonus. That is probably going to strike a chord with most people.”

Cllr Woodward also said too many officers were focused on non-policing jobs, and pointed to his work looking for £50m savings in “corporate support” for the force amid cuts in Government funding.

He added: “Police in Hampshire drive five million miles per year, which is an awful lot of fuel. There are savings that can be made.”