THE day the public votes on who they want as their first Police and Crime Commissioner is finally here.
Cheshire has five prospective candidates to choose from in the search for the publicly appointed figure. John Dwyer is standing for the Conservatives, John Stockton for the Labour Party, Ainsley Arnold for the Liberal Democrats, Louise Bours for UKIP and Sarah Flannery will be an independent candidate.
Whoever gains the most votes will start on the job next Thursday. Chief among their priorities will be setting police budgets and the level of funding directly from council tax payments and setting the agenda for how to address community concerns through Cheshire Police services.
They also hold the power to hire and fire the chief constable. The new role will replace Cheshire Police Authority, which was made up from councillors across the region, looking at the issues of the time.
Once in place the police and crime commissioner will also be expected to listen to the public and represent the voice of the victims of crime while also tackling rehabilitation of criminals by controlling police grants.
But it the appointment has not been without its controversy with opposers critical about the cost of an approximate six-figure salary for the police and crime commissioner and the cost of the election.
There is also concern a November poll will fail to draw out the voters with some suggesting a turnout of fewer than 20 per cent could be on the cards.
But Conservative minister Eric Pickles believes the new role, brought in by the Coalition Government, will help free up police to concentrate on tackling crime while giving public the chance to approve or object through the vote of how their service is being handled.
Mr Pickles said: “The public has somebody to contact, someone to press, to blame. “This is a job that requires talking to the community and it’s going to be John’s job delivering exactly what needs to be.” A Police and Crime Panel will also be set up - made up of councillors from Cheshire - who will hold the new police and crime commissioner to account.