New Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson wants to listen to you

16 November 2012.....  the newly elected West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commisioner Mark Burns-Williamson
16 November 2012..... the newly elected West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commisioner Mark Burns-Williamson

WEST Yorkshire’s first Police and Crime Commissioner took over his new office on Thursday.

And in his first interview in the new role, Mark Burns-Williamson told the Express it was crucial that people gave their views on policing priorities during the next few weeks.

Mr Burns-Williamson’s first task will be to hire a new chief constable for West Yorkshire Police.

He will then have to set the force’s budget by February, and a crime plan by March.

He said: “Making a plan with reduced funding will definitely be a challenge, but the plan needs to reflect the priorities that people have, whether that’s tackling drugs or anti-social behaviour.

“People really can have an effect on policing. I’ll be putting a survey out online and hosting consultation events very soon so that people can suggest budget priorities.”

Mr Burns-Williamson, who won last week’s election with 114,736 votes, said he would not allow core policing services to be privatised.

He said: “It is not something I support, and would much rather work in collaboration with other forces and councils.

“We can try and save money that way rather than outsourcing.”

Mr Burns-Williamson, a Labour councillor, also said he would lobby to have all money seized in the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) put back into policing rather than some going to the Treasury.

He said: “As a matter of principle, and when you consider the huge budget cuts, I think we should be receiving all of that money back.”

Mr Burns-Williamson was chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority (WYPA) for about nine years until it ceased to exist this week.

But he said his new PCC role was completely different.

He said: “This is a very different role, and it needs to look and feel different to the police authority role because it’s directly elected by the public.

“I’ll have to be a lot more outfacing throughout the coming years. I also want to see how we can work more closely with other organisations to make quicker decisions.”

He also responded to criticism that the force would become politicised by the new system.

He said: “The chief constable is still responsible for day-to-day policing so operational policing will not be politicised.

“This is a strategic role, to be the voice of the public and to challenge policies, not carry out police operations.”

Mr Burns-Williamson will be offered a salary of £100,000 but said he would not take the full amount.

His work will be scrutinised by a police and crime panel, which is made up of representatives of councils across West Yorkshire and is chaired by Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box.

Independent candidate Cedric Christie came second with 71,876 votes.

Geraldine Carter, the Conservative candidate, got 45,365 votes and the Lib Dems’ Andrew Marchington got 17,247 votes.