VOTERS in south Bucks today have the chance to make history as they elect the first The Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley.
The police authorities have been scrapped to make way for the new chiefs, who will earn up to £100k per year. The Government believes it will make the police more accountable to the public.
The Police and Crime Commissioner is a new role. Their job will be to oversee the local police force and ensure they prioritise what matters to local people.
Chief constables will continue to be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the police force, but they will be accountable to the public via PCCs.
PCCs will be elected by the public to hold chief constables and the force to account, effectively making the police answerable to the communities they serve.
There has been controversy over whether the role is actually needed, and over public awareness of and interest in the elections – generally considered to be quite low.
But Karen Satterford, Chief Executive of Wycombe District Council and Local Returning Officer for the Wycombe district, said: "I encourage voters to check in advance where their polling station is and plan what time they intend to cast their vote.
"As this is the first election of its kind in the Wycombe district, voters have the chance to be a part of history."
A former High Wycombe Mayor who worked closely with the police during his political career is predicting turnouts of as low as 18 per cent in today’s election.
Jim Tanner, who served on the Thames Valley Police Authority for five years in the 1980s, has dismissed the new role, saying most people do not care.
But Mr Tanner said: "I don't like the idea at all I think it's too much responsibility to put on one person and I can't see why the Government didn't just leave it alone and keep the police authorities."
Mr Tanner, a former Labour councillor, was also Chairman of The High Wycombe Police Consultative Committee and served on the Crime Prevention Panel.
For information on the candidates go to www.choosemypcc.org.uk
To find your nearest polling station go to www.wycombe.gov.uk, www.southbucks.gov.uk or www.chiltern.gov.uk