Five candidates in race to be Bedfordshire's next PCC - who will you vote for?
Five candidates have been confirmed in the race to be Bedfordshire's next Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
The election for a new PCC takes place on Thursday, May 6, and residents must make sure they are registered to vote (see here) by midnight, April 19.
Below, all five candidates in the race speak about why they are standing and why you should vote for them.
ENGLISH DEMOCRATS PARTY - ANTONIO VITIELLO
"Antonio is the Chairman of the Bedfordshire English Democrats. He studied law at the University of Westminster and is the son of a retired police inspector, he actively campaigned for Brexit.
"The English Democrats are opposed to the British Establishment’s attempts to break England up into so-called 'regions'.
"Due to the Barnett formula, the British Government sends excessive amounts of English taxes to Scotland and Wales, thereby abusing England as a cash-cow.
"Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own Governments who control their own health regulations, as we have seen with regards to Covid-19. England is the only country in the UK to have prescription charges, we believe an English Parliament is needed to reverse this and other injustices.
"Additionally, the disgraceful way the police have behaved, especially during the past year, is evidence that we MUST end politically correct policing.
"Now is the time to stop Boris Johnson and the Westminster establishment..."
INDEPENDENT - PAT HAMILL
"As the only independent candidate for the non-political role of Bedfordshire Police & Crime Commissioner, I bring with me a vast amount of public service spanning 36 years.
"I have led successful campaigns, represented my town as Mayor and have been a past Chairman of South Bedfordshire District Council.
"The public voice will be my focus.
"Police officers need to be more visible. I will open discussions on not only that issue but on stations, hubs and where they are situated, including times they open and close.
"Gangs, knife and gun crimes, burglaries, people trafficking, sexual exploitation, modern day slavery, rape, domestic violence are serious matters but low-level crimes such as fly-tipping and burglaries also need to be tackled.
"I will set up a database of willing participants that have CCTV and dashcams that can be tapped into.
"My pledge is to bring policing and the public closer together."
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS - JAS PARMAR
Jas Parmar, a former police officer, has lived in rural Bedfordshire for over 33 years. He is a former councillor, board member of a local Mental Health Trust and is currently a Postmaster in Kempston.
Jas is also a member of the Independent Advisory Group to Bedfordshire Police, chairs a large business forum in Bedfordshire and has run several local businesses.
Jas said: “I have frontline policing experience and senior experience in managing finances, decision making and leadership. I will be a PCC who has not only lived and worked in Bedfordshire but also understands the priorities of local communities.
“Listening to and meeting our many diverse communities across Bedfordshire in recent months, I will fight for fair funding for our police and prioritise real community policing, tackling serious crime, supporting victims and taking on anti-social behaviour and speeding.
"If elected, I will continue to be open, transparent and accessible."
LABOUR - DR DAVID MICHAEL
“When I was 19, I took an oath to serve the public. I rose to the rank of Detective Chief Inspector and stood by that oath every day for 30 years. I still live by it. I am proud to stand for election in my home county and get the opportunity to use my lifetime of front-line police experience to keep Bedfordshire safe.
“As Labour’s candidate, I have spoken to hundreds of residents. From Luton to Kempston, Biggleswade to Houghton Regis, every Bedfordian has spoken of their pride in our county and their anger at the criminal activity that holds us back.
“Whatever the plan has been to tackle crime- it has not worked. Police officers are overstretched, young people are in desperate need of support, businesses are grappling with antisocial behaviour.
"We need a Police and Crime Commissioner with the experience to do the job. Bedfordshire deserves better.”
CONSERVATIVE - FESTUS AKINBUSOYE
Festus, who lives in the county and runs his own business, was selected by Conservative members in Bedfordshire on February 29 last year.
His campaign team state they "will focus on building on the successes of the last four years under the leadership of Conservative PCC, Kathryn Holloway" who is stepping down.
“I am honoured to be selected as the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Bedfordshire,” Festus said.
“Residents and business owners deserve to feel safe here in Bedfordshire. I want to boost the number of community based police officers in both our rural and urban communities, be tough on gun, gang and knife crime and the causes of these; and increase investment in support services available to victims of crime.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner, I will be ambitious for us to become an outstanding policing area, delivering a safer Bedfordshire for all our residents and businesses."