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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Cumbria police chief hopefuls go live for webchat

THE four candidates competing to become Cumbria’s first police and crime commissioner, had their policies put to the test during a live webchat.

Hosted by the Evening Mail, the hour-long online question and answer session saw readers grill the candidates on the issues that matter most to them.

Liberal Democrat Pru Jupe, Labour’s Patrick Leonard, Conservative Richard Rhodes, and independent Mary Robinson are standing in Cumbria at Thursday’s elections across England and Wales.

Jan Waldron asked what guarantees there were that the ‘American-style’ role would improve policing.

Councillor Jupe, 55, of Beetham, said the PCCs would only be in charge of the budget, not operations, and would “represent the interests of Cumbrians in formulating the police plan”.

Another questioner asked the candidates what action they would take to address the decline in numbers of front-line officers.

Dr Leonard, 54, of Workington, said he was concerned government cuts had left police “overstretched”.

“An early action if elected would be to get together with the six Cumbrian MPs to see if we could arrange a meeting with the home secretary to make sure that she is aware of the major impact that these cuts are having, particularly in areas like ours,” he said.

Assurances that Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) would get backing from the new PCC was another hot topic.

Cllr Robinson, 59, of Carlisle said: “The role the PCSOs have played has now become accepted and I would not want to see something so highly valued lost.”

The final question was asked by Terence Coupe of Barrow, who wanted to know how the candidates would make the streets of Cumbria safer.

Mr Rhodes, 70, of Staveley-in-Cartmel, responded: “The PCC does have control of the police budget. It is extremely important he or she comes to appreciate the policing needs of the very wide range of communities across the county before allocating portions of the budget.”

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