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Anna Smith is Labour choice for Cambridgeshire police and crime commissioner

Cllr Anna Smith has been selected to stand as Labour’s police and crime commissioner candidate

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Technically the Government still has time to enact legislation to merge the roles of Mayor and police and crime commissioner (PCC) but in the unlikely event of that happening, Cambridgeshire will head to the polls on May 2 to test support for a second term for Conservative PCC Darryl Preston.

And for the for the first time since the PPC role was introduced in 2012, the winner will be chosen on a ‘first past the post’ basis after abolition of the supplementary voting system.

Mr Preston is hopeful of a second term for the £73,000 a year role but will face tough competition.

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Cllr Anna Smith has been selected to stand as Labour’s police and crime commissioner candidate for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Anna is the serving Deputy Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, and she was acting Mayor last year while Mayor Dr Nik Johnson took leave for an operation.

Cllr Anna Smith has been selected to stand as Labour’s police and crime commissioner candidate for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

 Mayor DR Nik Johnson and Cllr Anna Smith. New England, Peterborough Saturday 27 January 2024.
Picture by Terry Harris.

She is generally acknowledged to have played a vital role in overseeing the Combined Authority throughout that time which included chairing board meetings at which code of conduct issues surrounding Dr Johnson have been scrutinised.

Ironically, Labour, who selected her for the PCC nomination, also dropped her as leader of Cambridge City Council last May; she said later she was “proud to have led Cambridge Labour to two record victories in the local elections”.

Police and Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston

Police and Crime Commissioner Darryl Preston

Cllr Smith is a former teacher and senior leader in secondary schools and Labour says they are putting her forward as a candidate because of her “strong track record in leadership” and as someone who is “already delivering for communities right across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire”.

Her aims, as PPC, are to champion neighbourhood policing to make our streets safer, to improve crime prevention, protect communities and reduce offending.

Cllr Smith said: “Despite their rhetoric, the Conservatives are soft on crime and soft on crime prevention.

“Across our country they’ve lost control of antisocial behaviour, and knife crime has gone up 70 per cent since 2015.

“I am determined to work with the police and the public to tackle head on the issues we all face, from antisocial behaviour to dangerous driving, from violence against women and girls to drug dealing, knife crime and gangs.”

She added: “I spent 18 years working in the public sector in our local community as a teacher and senior leader in schools. I’ve had nearly ten years as an elected representative, as councillor, council leader, acting mayor and deputy mayor. I have a track record of leadership and of getting things done.

“I know first-hand from my work right across our communities just what dedicated public servants our police teams are.

“Both they and the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, have been let down by the Conservative Government. Our region needs a police and crime commissioner who will both hold the police to account and fight hard for the resources the police need to do their job.”

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“I have a track record of delivering every day for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. I now intend to use all my skills and experiences to work with our police force and our whole community for a fresh start for policing in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.”

Liberal Democrats are yet to decide their candidate, but the name of Cllr Edna Murphy is being touted as a possible contender.

She is a Lib Dem county councillor for Bar Hill and chairs the Cambs & Peterborough Fire Authority. She is also a former magistrate.

In 2021 Mr Preston beat off a strong Labour challenge to secure the post – he became candidate after former police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite was forced to resign in late 2019 after allegations surfaced about social media exchanges.

Peterborough councillor Ray Bisby stepped up to the role temporarily, but it was Mr Preston who won the nomination and the role.

Final votes – once first and second preferences came into play – gave Mr Preston 114,153, with Labour’s Nicky Massey totalling 102,195 – a gap of just over four per cent.

The result in 2024 could be close – with Labour expected to perform well in Cambridge and Peterborough. With Conservatives losing control of Huntingdonshire District Council since 2021 and Lib Dems continuing to perform well in areas such as South Cambridgeshire and Ely and East Cambridgeshire, there is little certainty of which way the PPC poll will go.

For the Lib Dems, however, coming second in South Cambridgeshire and Ely and East Cambridgeshire will be critical, if only to disprove Labour’s ‘bar charts’ of which party is best poised to oust Conservatives at the next general election.

The Chief Executive of East Cambridgeshire District Council, John Hill, has again been appointed as the Police Area Returning Officer (PARO) for Cambridgeshire for the 2024 PCC elections.

The election of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Cambridgeshire will take place on Thursday 2 May 2024.

FACT FILE

The annual report of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Crime Commissioner, says the county is one of the lowest funded forces per head of population in the country.

In recent years, the Home Office’s policing grant allocation has not taken into account population growth.

The commissioner says this is a significant issue for Cambridgeshire as the population growth since the last census date has been significant at 11.1% compared to the national average of 6.6%.

“Population is one of the factors that drives crime levels, which the Constabulary receives no extra funding for,” says the report.

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