Liberal Democrats have chosen Gateshead Councillor, Dr Jonathan Wallace, to be their candidate for the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) by-election on 18th July.
The by-election has been called because the previous PCC, Labour’s Vera Baird, has taken up a new job with the government.
Dr Wallace immediately set the tone for the battle ahead by calling for the PCC role to be scrapped and the savings ploughed into more policing.
He also attacked the massive cost of the by-election. “Nearly £3 million of taxpayers’ money will be spent on replacing a Labour politician who has taken up a cushy job with the Conservative government.
“This experiment in having elected Police and Crime Commissioners has been an expensive failure. No one seriously believes the police have become more accountable to the people, and crime rates have risen. The Labour PCC's record has been one of declining police numbers, increasing crime rates, and a disinclination to be held to account for failure to deliver on her priorities.
“If elected, I will press the government to get rid of PCCs. Joint bodies made up of representatives of local councils should take on the functions.
“In the meantime, if elected as PCC, I will make neighbourhood policing and addressing anti social behaviour my major priority. I will refocus policing away from the failed war on drugs users, following the example set in Durham. As PCC I will work with councils to declare drug abuse as a public health crisis.”
Dr Wallace will also press the government to remain signed up to the European Arrest Warrant. “If we leave the EU with No Deal, we will lose the power to bring murderers, rapists and drugs barons to justice if they escape to the Continent. We should never allow Brexit to be an escape route for serious criminals.”
Dr Wallace, 55, has been a councillor in Gateshead for 32 years and is now Leader of the Opposition. He was recently re-elected as councillor for Whickham South and Sunniside for the tenth time, with the largest majority of any winning councillor in Tyne and Wear.