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Matthew Barber is standing for the Conservative Party in the election of the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner on May 2, 2024.

The former Oxfordshire councillor of 19 years is the incumbent candidate, having been elected as PCC in 2021.

READ MORE: Meet the other PCC candidates – Tim Bearder (Lib Dem), Tim Starkey (Labour), Ben Holden-Crowther (Independent) and Russell Fowler (Independent)

Now based in Wantage, the 43-year-old was previously the deputy PCC and also served as the leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council.

His priorities include tackling retail crime, rural crime, burglaries and fraud.

Here we question Mr Barber further about his suitability for the role:

What experience do you have for the role?

I have done the job. Immediately prior to this I was deputy to my predecessor, but I have been involved with TVP since 2017.

Why should people vote for you?

I have got experience in the job that I’m doing, and people can hold me to account on whether they think I have done a good job.

Which crimes will you prioritise?

My five main priorities to protect people are tackling rape and sexual offences, domestic abuse, the nighttime economy, serious violence and abuse and exploitation.

How will you prevent more crime?

This is one of the things we do need to improve. Some of it is about better supervision and more boring things like management tools and more senior officers reviewing cases more frequently.

How will you solve more crime?

We haven’t got the final numbers yet, but the solved rate should go up by about one 1 per cent for the last year.

Will officers notice a change?

One of the things I hope they will see is less work around mental health. Too often we see response officers getting a call from child social care or a member of the public about mental health or a child who has gone missing.

Is the position unnecessarily politicised?

It is a risk, but the PCC and the police are separate entities. If you are standing to be elected, you are a politician. I don’t think it is a hugely political role.

Where would you spend more money?

There is a programme of about £20 million worth of savings over the next couple of years.

How would you ensure budget cuts do not lead to crime rising?

The biggest way of making savings is taking out some of those layers of middle management.

How important is the police’s relationship with the public and how will you develop this?

The issues of conduct in the police really matter for obvious reasons, but they don’t tend to reflect themselves in the conversations I have with most real people about why they don’t call the police. It is about getting the basics right.

How will you ensure TVP deals with officers who commit crimes?

I am pleased that the chief constable continues to chuck people out of the force. The one bit of comfort I have got is that the majority of cases of dismissal have come about because someone else in the force has reported it. That is encouraging about the culture.

How will you make sure everywhere in the large Thames Valley area is represented?

Local commands have quite a lot of autonomy. It is about having teams able at a force level to be deployed locally.

How will we be able to measure your success after your first 100 days?

One thing that I would want to see is a good rollout of our new app to tackle shoplifting. The other thing is CCTV, getting the new system live in Oxfordshire.