COLUMN by Cllr Michael Jones, Crawley Borough Council (Lab, Bewbush): Madness to have this election in the winter

Many Observer readers would be forgiven for having no idea why poll cards have dropped through their door this week.

Yet the Police and Crime Commissioners being elected later this month will not only have a larger mandate (and salary) than any individual MP, but they’ll have huge influence over fighting crime, and the power to dismiss the Chief Constable of Sussex.

It was madness for the Tory-led government to insist on having this election in the middle of winter. Not only has it unnecessarily cost money to hold elections, but it brings party politics even further into policing. Not something I believe anyone outside of the Tory government thinks is a good idea.

People in Crawley want a government that cuts crime, not the police. Shocking figures reveal that in just two years since the Tory-led government got in, Sussex has lost 250 officers out of the 3,000 strong force, and official projections say that by 2015, nearly 500 will have gone, including nearly 400 frontline officers.

At the same time, there is apparently millions of pounds to be spent across the country on an election no-one knows anything about, or even wants.

British police officers do a difficult, vital and all-too-often dangerous job to keeping our streets safe. It is challenging work, but the police understand that they are public servants, charged with the responsibility to protect us and the public understand that police officers are able to do this when they are treated with the respect they deserve.

Unfortunately, the current government seems to have forgotten this. Aside from the cuts, the worst example of this was the tirade of abuse that the now former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell recently subjected a police officer to outside Downing Street.

Ask yourself this: what would you expect to happen to someone who swore at a police officer on duty in Crawley town centre on a Saturday night? You would surely expect them to be arrested - and rightly so - but it seems that it is one rule for cabinet ministers in Downing Street and another for the rest of us on Crawley High Street.

The Tory-led Government simply don’t understand the nature of respect and responsibility when it comes to policing, and this is why I’m backing Labour’s excellent candidate Godfrey Daniel for Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) on 15 November.