NEWLY-ELECTED police and crime commissioner John Dwyer officially begins his new role today after pronouncing his relationship with the chief constable will be ‘professional but not cosy’.
The Tory candidate and retired Cheshire assistant chief constable replaces the police authority after England and Wales went to the polls last Thursday.
Commissioner Dwyer, on a £75,000 annual salary, will set the budget and local strategy for the force, with the power to sack chief constable Dave Whatton who remains responsible for operational decisions.
Mr Dywer (48,591 votes) beat competition from nearest rival John Stockton (37,350 votes), a Labour Halton borough councillor, in a poll strongly contested by independent Sarah Flannery (18,596 votes).
The commissioner accepts his relationship with the Chief Constable will be crucial to the effective operation of the force.
He said: “It will be professional but it won’t be cosy because he will know he’s got to deliver for me because I’m holding him to account on behalf of the people of Cheshire.”
Mr Dwyer, who retired from the police 11 years ago, was at West Midlands police at the same time as the Cheshire Chief Constable, but did not work with him and does not know him.
He insists he will be able to independently scrutinise the force despite being drawn from its ranks.
But he hopes his policing experience will mean he can ‘understand where the police are coming from when they have got issues’.
Describing it as an honour to serve the people of Cheshire, he added: “I think they have realised I have got a lot of experience. I don’t think it’s to do with politics because I declared very early on that I was not interested in bringing politics into policing.”
The commissioner insists he is ‘not a power crazed individual’ and will encourage the Press and public to examine his decisions.
Talking about his priorities, Mr Dwyer said: “In terms of the manifesto pledges, I said I would raise the number of special constables from 500 to 1,000 and the reason I want to do that is because I’ve been hearing from loads of people on the street that they want to see more police officers on the beat.”
Mr Dwyer aims to ‘stem the flow’ of full-time bobbies ‘being removed from the front-line because of government cut-backs’, adding: “When the economy starts to improve, and I’m sure it will, my aim is to then start recruiting up to the authorised establishment levels.”
He accepts enthusiasm for the election was underwhelming with an overall turn-out of just 14.08% and there were 7,462 spoilt papers suggesting some electors had not understood the process.
“Everybody was given the opportunity to turn out. If people chose to not to do it that’s a matter for themselves. I have a mandate from the people who did vote and I intend carrying it through.”
Mr Dwyer, 62, who lives with his wife Zena in the village of Hatherton near Nantwich, served as a borough councillor with the former Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council before its replacement by Cheshire East.
The commissioner will now give up his job as a security consultant assisting companies to develop anti-fraud strategies.
The contest was also fought by Lib Dem candidate Ainsley Arnold who polled 10,653 votes and UKIP candidate Louise Bours who picked up 8,557 votes.