Operational policing within Wiltshire will remain unaffected after last night’s election declaration, according to Wiltshire and Swindon’s OPCC senior executive.
Wiltshire Council, which ran the election, is securing specialist legal advice after Conservative candidate Jonathon Seed was declared the elected Police and Crime Commissioner despite his attempt to withdraw from the process the day before the count.
Kieran Kilgallen, Chief Executive from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), said that residents will not notice any changes in the way in which the county is policed. Meanwhile the OPCC will work with the council to agree the next steps and will continue to report to the Police and Crime Panel on performance in the normal way.
He said: “Residents should be assured that their policing service will be unaffected – all officers and staff will continue to work hard to protect residents and make sure that our communities remain safe.
“The strategic direction of Wiltshire Police, and its priorities, have already been set by the outgoing PCC and the current Police and Crime plan remains in place until the end of the financial year. Responsibility for implementing this through operational policing, and the day-to-day running of the Force, remains with the Chief Constable, Kier Pritchard.
“Equally as the precept has already been determined and the budget is in place, the planned officer recruitment and staffing will continue, alongside any OPCC commissioned or funded services – which also remain in place.”
Mr Kilgallen confirmed that once current PCC Angus Macpherson, and his deputy Jerry Herbert, finish their term on 13 May 2021, he will oversee the OPCC until the next steps in any legal process are confirmed by Wiltshire Council.
“We must allow the time for our partners at Wiltshire Council to seek specialist legal advice and determine the next steps,” he added.
“While this situation is unexpected to say the least, there is a legislation in place for such an eventuality and a process to be followed. I will ensure the OPCC works closely with the council, the force, and other relevant partners.”
It was also announced that the cost of a new election will exceed £1m, but according to Wiltshire Council this will be funded by central government, thus not out of local budgets. This will (probably) give the Conservative party the time to find a new candidate to replace Jonathon Seed, whilst the issue of cost to the candidates for their nominations and other direct election expenses such as publicity for the ‘redundant’ election and its replacement have yet to be discussed. The expenses limit for each candidate for the Wiltshire area is £93,684.
On top of this each candidate must pay a deposit of £5,000 at the point of nomination, which is only refundable if they achieve more that 5% of the valid first preference votes cast in the Wiltshire Police area.
Whether this deposit is returnable to candidates in this recent ‘non election’ has not been made public, nor has any decision regarding whether their deposit already lodged will be returned as the election held was invalid.
A great deal has yet to be decided, announced and put in place before Wiltshire has a new Police and Crime Commissioner.