Crime commissioner bids for second term in office

Date: Monday 13th May 2019

CUMBRIA’S police and crime commissioner plans to stand for a second term of office next year.

Peter McCall is seeking another four-year term when the election takes place again in May, 2020.

Back in 2016, he was elected as the Conservative Party candidate, having received more than 32,000 votes — equivalent to 34 per cent of the poll.

He won a second-round playoff with an 11,000 majority over nearest rival, Labour’s Reg Watson, a former chairman of the Cumbria Police Authority.

Mr McCall, who turns 60 next year, said: “Three years into the job and I have to say I thoroughly enjoy it. I have constantly had people asking am I going to stand again? I still have the energy to do it which makes me think I will.”

Mr McCall said the role required making the case in Westminster for Cumbria to get a fairer funding formula.

“I don’t believe Cumbria has been well-served by successive governments in the funding of our policing. We get 52 percent of our funding from central Government and the rest comes from the precept. If you go to Northumbria it’s 79 per cent funding from central Government, and it’s similar in Manchester, Merseyside and the big metropolitan areas.”

“Our residents in Cumbria are paying 48 percent of their police funding from their precept, compared to 19 percent in Northumbria. Historically, that’s how it works. There is an element of saying well, those areas should get more money because there’s more people and they have more crime because there’s more people. My argument and I make it continually to Government is that while we don’t have the scale, we get our relative share of serious crime.”

He said he was pleased with initiatives such as increasing officer numbers with an extra 45 officers recruited over the last two years.

He said: “My ambition is to continue in that vein. We have not seen cuts in policing in Cumbria, although I know others will harp on about cuts to policing.

“In some parts of the country there have been very serious cuts and I certainly wouldn’t deny that, but we’ve not seen cuts in policing in Cumbria.

“In the last 10 years, the population has been increasing. In order to have stood still, we ought to have been increasing police numbers throughout that period.

“I am really pleased we have started to address that and would like to continue it, but it will take time and constant battling in Westminster.”

He added: “If I get booted out in a year, I will be able to look back and say, hand on heart, well, we made a difference.”

Mr McCall said he was proud of the support by his office to create women’s groups for survivors of domestic violence, work to disrupt the supply of Class A drugs, and initiatives to engage with young people, such as Mini Police, police cadets and the county’s youth commission.

“I would go out with my head held high, but that’s not to say that there is any scope for complacency,” he said.

Mr McCall spent more than 30 years in the military, rising to regimental colonel of the Royal Logistics Corps heading 16,000 personnel in Afghanistan as well as peacekeeping in Bosnia, tackling the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone and taking part in the clean-up after foot-and-mouth disease hit Cumbria in 2001.