A FORMER Royal Navy officer and resident of Ivybridge has launched a bid to become Devon and Cornwall’s police and crime commissioner.
Gareth Derrick looks set to be selected as the Labour Party candidate for the PCC elections, scheduled for May 6 this year. Named as the shortlisted candidate by the regional party office, his selection has still to be confirmed by a vote in each of the 18 constituency parties across Devon and Cornwall. The result is expected by February 14.
If successful ultimately, Gareth will take over from Tony Hogg, the first ever Devon and Cornwall PCC elected in 2012.
The office was introduced by the coalition government with the aim of making the force more accountable to the public by replacing police authorities with elected individuals. It has not been without controversy however, and turnout for the first elections was just 15 per cent nationally.
Having been a member of the Labour Party in his youth, Gareth rejoined soon after the last general election. He was motivated, he says, by a determination ‘to help ensure the many people who feel misled by the coalition and Conservative government can have a voice’.
Gareth recently stood down from Ivybridge Town Council after a brief stint. He said: ‘I was sad to leave the council as I had hoped to contribute strongly to the town’s long term development, but I realised quite quickly that I could be more effective serving local people in other ways.
‘When I was invited in October to consider standing for Labour as a candidate in the PCC elections, it became clear that this is a challenge that I should take on.’
He began campaigning in Devonport and in Plymstock Broadway last weekend, where he heard the concerns of local people over issues such as domestic violence and child sexual exploitation.
Gareth says he has serious concerns about the way policing and justice issues have been handled recently.
He continued: ‘I simply don’t trust a government that has already inflicted serious funding cuts to Devon and Cornwall Police, forcing the loss of around 350 police officers, and was only a few months ago prepared to cut another £54m.
‘Had this gone forward, it might have meant the loss of all police community support officers in the region, which would be devastating. My aim is not to politicise the commissioner’s role, but to build greater accountability to all sectors of our community, in our rural areas, towns and cities, and in business and tourism centres.
‘With major financial difficulties ahead, the challenge is enormous.’
If Gareth’s selection is confirmed, he will join Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw and Sarah Staples, a 19-year old student and former Member of the Youth Parliament from Plympton at a public ‘Question Time’ on Thursday, March 17. Taking place in The Watermark, Ivybridge at 7pm, the free event will explore the theme of ‘Why Labour for the South West?’
Further details of the event can be found on the South Hams Labour Facebook page and direct from the Watermark.
From there, Gareth plans to tour the region visiting local communities. He said: ‘I want to hear from as many people as possible about crime and safety – to help me set the right direction for future policing.’
To follow Gareth’s campaign or let him know your views, visit www.facebook.com/garethderrick.1.