The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Ann Barnes has been accused of ‘letting down’ the residents of Kent and ‘wasting’ her time in office as the campaign to succeed the embattled incumbent begins in earnest.
The remarks come from Matthew Scott, the Conservative candidate, who is widely tipped to succeed Mrs Barnes in the £85,000 per annum job.
Battle lines for the succession have been drawn after Mrs Barnes announced her intention last week to stand down from the position she has held for three and a half years. She will not take part in the May election for the office.
Her legacy immediately came under attack from other prospective candidates, such as Tristan Osborne, a former Special Constable running for Labour, who said Mrs Barnes had ‘failed’ due to ‘self-led errors’, adding: “We need better than this miserable record.”
Mrs Barnes, who stood as an independent candidate during the first PCC elections in November 2012, has attracted a string of criticism throughout much of her time in office.
Her appointment of Paris Brown as ‘Youth PCC’ backfired after the then 17 year old was engulfed in a row over allegedly racist tweets which the Commissioner admitted were never checked before the job offer was made.
Even David Cameron said Mrs Barnes had ‘failed to impress’ following her appearance in a TV documentary about the newly created position.
And last year Mrs Barnes was investigated by a police watchdog as to whether or not she had been driving with the right sort of car insurance after she was involved in an accident.
However, Mrs Barnes defended herself in her resignation statement, saying she had ‘absolute confidence’ that the people of Kent now have a better police service after her time in office.
Pointing to a police inspectorate report ranking the Kent service as ‘excellent’, Mrs Barnes lists some of her achievements, including preventing the ‘politicisation’ and privatisation of the force as well as improving the accuracy of crime figures.
She also claims to have raised the profile of the job, although ‘not always in the way intended’ adding: “If I were to pick out the things I am most proud of it would be what has been achieved for victims here in Kent.
“In particular, I would single out the establishment of a dedicated Sexual Assault Referral Centre.
“As election day approaches for the next PCC, I have decided that I will not be a candidate… I am content that I have delivered what I said I would and Kent Police is in a very strong and sustainable position for the future.”
THE PCC ELECTION
When are elections?
Thursday May 5, 2016
Who are the candidates?
- Conservative: Matthew Scott, Swanley
- Labour: Tristan Osborne, Rochester
- Liberal Democrat: Dave Naghi, Maidstone
- UKIP: Henry Bolton, Folkestone
- English Democrats: Steve Uncles, Dartford
- Independent: Fergus Wilson, Maidstone
What’s the PCC salary?
Around £85,000 a year
What’s the idea behind PCCs?
They are elected by the public to hold Chief Constables and the force to account, effectively making the police answerable to the communities they serve PCCs are supposed to work in partnership across a range of agencies at local and national level to ensure there is a unified approach to preventing and reducing crime
Who can vote?
Anyone on the Electoral Register