ONE of the biggest obstacles for the new police and crime commissioner to overcome is a lack of public awareness of the role, according to one of the Cumbria candidates.

Michael Rye has decided to run for the United Kingdom Independence Party in the county's election on May 5 and says his priority will be to reverse a culture of misunderstanding around the job.

Mr Rye, who polled third in the 2015 General Election in Copeland, losing out to Labour's Jamie Reed, wants to shake off the assumption that the police and crime commissioner is a "non job" and hold Cumbria Constabulary to account.

Building understanding

The 64-year-old, who grew up and lives in Cockermouth, will stand for Ukip for the first time in the Cumbria election, as the party did not field a candidate in 2012 when Richard Rhodes was elected.

Mr Rye, whose background is in the oil industry, said: "The main priority for the job is to make sure people understand what a police and crime commissioner is actually doing. I've had people say it is a non-job. 

"As a concerned member of the general public I really want to satisfy myself and satisfy my fellow citizens that the police are working on their behalf at all times.

"There's lots of challenge. The Cumbria police area stretches from Brampton in the north to Grange-over-Sands. If you are down in Barrow then people want to know if you dial 999 'can I expect the police car to turn out pretty quick?'"

Mr Rye believes the public wants to see more visible policing but wants to work with the chief constable to deliver a comprehensive crime plan. 

The Ukip member is the fifth and final person to be featured in the Evening Mail's police and crime commissioner pre-election coverage, following Loraine Birchall (Lib Dem), Peter McCall (Conservative), Mary Robinson (independent) and Reg Watson (Labour).

Michael Pye profile

Age: 64

Home: Cockermouth

Education: Studied at Cockermouth Grammar School and then graduated in chemical engineering from Birmingham University

Experience: Worked in the oil industry in Aberdeen, London and abroad; stood for Ukip in Copeland in the 2015 General Election.

Priorities if elected: Developing public understanding of the role of police and crime commissioner; improving public trust in policing and transparent investigations; visible policing.

What does a police and crime commissioner do?

The role of the police and crime commissioner is to represent the views of members of the public and hold the police to account.

After election, a police and crime commissioner must come up with a police and crime plan which outlines his or her objectives for policing, what resources will be provided to the chief constable and how performance will be measured.

The commissioner has the power to appoint the chief constable, hold them to account for the management of the force, and if necessary dismiss them.

Commissioners also set their precept on council tax to raise extra funds.

At the 2012 elections in England and Wales, the Conservatives gained 16 police and crime commissioners, Labour 13, independent candidates 11, and Zero Tolerance Policing won one seat.

Some criticism has been levelled against the role, with voting turnout nationally typically between 10 and 20 per cent.

However, the government said the new role had a greater mandate than the prior "unelected and invisible" police authorities.

<strong>READ MORE:</strong>  Interview with Loraine Birchall, Liberal Democrat candidate

<strong>READ MORE:</strong> Interview with Peter McCall, Conservative candidate

<strong>READ MORE:</strong> Interview with Mary Robinson, independent candidate


Interview with Reg Watson, Labour candidate