Profiles of the Thames Valley police commissioner candidates

Added 12 November: Why you should vote in the police commissioner elections

A version of this article appeared in Chipping Norton News, November 2012

On Thursday 15 November, Chippy will get its first chance to vote for a police and crime commissioner, who for the next four years will have the ability to hire or fire the chief constable of Thames Valley Police. It is the largest non-metropolitan force in the country, covering nearly 2.3m people in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, and spending £371m this financial year. Our commissioner will be paid £85,000 annually, to be accountable for how crime is tackled in the three counties and to make the police accountable to the people they serve.

It is a new type of election, held in late autumn when no other votes are taking place. As a result, some fear a low turnout and a freak result – including the woman who will report to the winner. ‘There’s always been a concern that if you have a small turnout, the potential for people with very extreme views to be elected is greater,’ Thames Valley chief constable Sara Thornton told the BBC. ‘If the mandate is regarded as weak because few people have voted, it won’t help them to be able to get things done.’

Chippy residents can help by turning out to vote, either in person between 7am and 10pm, or by post – although the deadline for applying for a postal vote is 5pm on 31 October (contact West Oxfordshire District Council on 01993 861522 or 861525). Unlike council elections, candidates will not get leaflets delivered to every home; instead, these statements are available through or by calling 0800 1070708. To help you choose, we’re publishing a summary of each candidate’s background and views.

The Candidates

Patience Tayo Awe (Independent)
Ms Tayo Awe is an IT post-graduate qualified in project management who has served as a charity trustee. She believes the public should take a greater role in setting local police goals, that victims of crime should have a greater voice, that politics should be kept out of policing and that IT is crucial in tackling crime.
Web page, election statement

Barry Cooper (UKIP)
Mr Cooper works at his family’s furniture business in London. He wants a zero-tolerance approach to low-level crime and anti-social behaviour and more protection for ‘the law-abiding majority’, while opposing political correctness, excessive bureaucracy and cuts to police budgets. He also wants to see improved detection rates and police response times.
Web site, election statement

Geoff Howard (Independent)
Mr Howard is a former teacher, businessman and a magistrate of 20 years’ standing. He was also a councillor for Slough borough council for 13 years, where he moved from Labour to the Conservatives then to UKIP. He is standing as an independent as he believes the commissioner should be apolitical, and thinks it should concentrate on crimes that affect people locally.
Web page, election statement

John Howson (Liberal Democrat)
Mr Howson has spent 22 years as a magistrate in Oxfordshire, but his career has focused on education, first as a teacher, then as the first deputy head of Oxford Brookes University’s school of education, and since 1997 running education-related businesses. He believes the force should offer better value for money, improve detection rates – rather than putting more police on the beat – and provide greater respect and more help for victims of crime.
Web site, election statement

Anthony Stansfeld (Conservative)
Mr Stansfeld, who has served in the Army and managed an aircraft company, is an executive member of West Berkshire Council and a member of Thames Valley Police, where he chairs the performance committee. He says that making household burglary a priority in urban areas has seen doubling in detection rates and significantly fewer burglaries, and also wants to see a focus on reducing rural crime.
Web site, election statement

Tim Starkey (Labour)
Mr Starkey has been a barrister for 11 years, is a parish councillor in Buckinghamshire, and previously stood as a parliamentary candidate for the Lib Dems but left the party in protest at the Coalition Government’s cuts. He wants to restore police officer numbers to 2010 levels, curtail private sector involvement in the force, ensure support for victims of crime and improve efficiency, such as by letting victims track the progress of their case online.
Web site, election statement

As the News went press, two independent candidates, Khan Juna and Martin Young had withdrawn from the contest.

The online version of this article also includes information about Geoff Howard, who announced his candidacy after the print version had been gone to press.

More links on the Thames Valley Police commissioner candidates
The issues affecting Thames Valley Police: BBC
Profiles of the candidate: BBC, Bucks Herald, Oxford Times
Coverage of hustings at Reading Town Hall BBC, Reading Post

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