As a member of the outgoing Police Authority, I can agree with Mr Scotford last week on several points.
Wiltshire Police Authority has not been perfect and the system is capable of improvement, but the Government’s imposition of expensively elected commissioners was not the right solution.
However, I cannot agree that the best way forward now is for people to spoil their ballot papers in the election next week. There are many really important issues on which candidates for the commissioner post have very different views, and it’s regrettable that the Government’s absurd restrictions on publicity for the election have made it very difficult for people to understand what these are. One of the huge issues facing Wiltshire Police in the next four years is the extent to which police services will be privatised, handed over to the likes of G4S. I’m aware that this is very much on the agenda, along with the possibility of diluting neighbourhood police teams by sharing their responsibilities with council workers. I’m pleased to say that at least one candidate, Paul Batchelor, has made clear his opposition to this kind of outsourcing, and in my view he deserves public support for that. In the meantime, other candidates have the remaining week to make clear whether they oppose privatisation of police functions or not. I believe this issue is sufficiently important for people to vote on the basis of their answers.
Chris Caswill, Wiltshire Councillor, Monkton ward, Chippenham.