THE fight for fair funding to keep officers on the frontline is one which a Cumbria police and crime commissioner candidate has promised to prioritise if elected.

Loraine Birchall, of Great Urswick, is the Liberal Democrat choice for the election on May 5 and is campaigning for a better deal for rural police forces.

Changes to the police funding formula are expected to be brought back later this year after being postponed due to errors in the government's figures in November.

Ms Birchall, who previously worked as a clerical contractor and project manager BAE Systems in Barrow, has vowed to fight cuts to the county's budget, especially at a time when Cumbria has been battered by flooding.

The 47-year-old said: "I feel the funding formula for Cumbria is very unfair. The travel difficulties we have got here makes it even harder to police. 

"I do feel nobody is banging the drum on that one.

"When ever you talk to people the number one thing they want to see is more police. They want to know that they are out there.

"There is a number of well known case studies where you increase the policing in trouble spots and the crime does drop. It's not necessarily about catching more people but it's the fact you are patrolling the street and deterring crime."

Ms Birchall comes from a policing family, with her father, brother and ex-husband all working as special constables for Cumbria Constabulary.

However, the web developer and management consultant hopes the upcoming campaign is judged on experience and policing strategy rather than party politics.

She said: "It should be a case if the right person is going to be sensible, strategic and transparent enough to deal with it."
Col Peter McCall

The 2012 election was a close contest with just 4,500 votes separating four candidates in the first round of voting.

Ms Birchell is the second party candidate to announce a 2016 bid following Peter McCall being selected for the Conservatives.

Loraine Birchall <strong>Loraine Birchall profile</strong>

Age: 47

Home: Great Urswick

Interests: Volunteers on the board of South Lakes Housing; parish council role; knitting.

Experience: Former project manager at BAE in Barrow; campaigned to save the X112 bus route; stood for the Lib Dems at the General Election in 2015 in Carlisle.

Priorities if elected: Restore trust in Cumbria police; Improving safety for women including taking domestic violence more seriously; tackling crimes against small businesses; ensuring a visible policing presence on the street; address the growing problem of cyber-crime.

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 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 can 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.