New police commissioner Matthew Ellis: 'I'm all for more bobbies on beat'
POLICE commissioner Matthew Ellis has pledged to get more police on the streets within his first three months in the job.
The Conservative county councillor became the region's first police crime commissioner yesterday.
He will pick up a £75,000 salary and has responsibility for overseeing chief officers, deciding Staffordshire Police's priorities and setting its shrinking budget.
His election victory came against the backdrop of a record low turnout of just 11.97 per cent.
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But Mr Ellis said he would get down to business immediately – despite criticism nationally that voters did not want or understand the new role.
He said: "In the first three months you will see the first signs of much greater visibility. Making sure that every opportunity we have is used to make sure people see there are officers and police vehicles around their streets.
"You'll see the roadshows I'll hold to talk to people in every part of the county and city.
"I'll also have started 'hear how it is' sessions with frontline police officers, giving them the chance to talk to me about anything they want to. And I'll have done something significant about sorting out the old police HQ building sale because that's many millions of pounds sitting there and we have to sort it."
Staffordshire Police is making cuts of £34 million by 2015 and will see officer numbers fall to 1,750 – down from a 2006 peak of 2,347.
Mr Ellis' pre-election pledges included spending £1.1 million on iPads for officers to cut time spent on paperwork and free up officers for frontline work. He ruled out privatising frontline policing to help balance the books but said some back office functions may go, adding: "I'm a total believer that warranted police officers are the only people that can detain and arrest. I am sensitive about anything that would make people doubt the independence of police.
"But there may be some services we need to look at where perhaps it's not necessary for them to be done as part of the police service."
Defeated Labour candidate Joy Garner, pictured left, will sit on a 12-strong police and crime panel, made up of councillors and two independent members, to scrutinise Mr Ellis' work.
She said: "The turnout is not a reflection on Matthew or me, but on the incompetence of the Government. I congratulate him."
Staffordshire's Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said: "Whatever the outcome, I was always going to try to work effectively with whoever was elected to make sure we continue to deliver outstanding policing in Staffordshire. I will now do that."
The next PCC elections are to be held in May 2015. Mr Ellis will be sworn in on Monday and officially takes office on Thursday.