HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright has given his backing to a candidate running to become Cleveland’s first elected police and crime commissioner.
The town’s Labour MP has thrown his weight behind Middlesbrough councillor Barry Coppinger, the Labour candidate ahead of the November 15 election.
Commissioners will have the power to appoint chief constables and to call on them to retire or resign.
Their responsibilities include holding the chief constable to account, securing the maintenance of an efficient and effective force, setting the police precept and budget and producing a police and crime plan.
Mr Coppinger, who has been a councillor in Middlesbrough for 27 years and currently works for Redcar and Cleveland Council, said: “There is a good record here in terms of reducing crime and making people feel safe and despite the challenge of reducing resources I think we can continue to make progress.
“The police and crime commissioner needs to be somebody who has the drive and the experience to carry that forward.”
His priorities include protecting neighbourhood policing, getting a better deal for victims and witnesses, make a “greater impact” on re-offending rates and continue to work in partnership with other agencies.
The 56-year-old, who was a member of Cleveland Police Authority for nine years until the end of last year, is married to Val and is dad to Sean, 21 and Daniel, 18.
Mr Coppinger added there will be clear accountability with the new role and people will be held to account at the ballot box.
There is a Government recommended £70,000 salary for the four-year post.
Mr Wright said: “People want to feel reassured that they can go about their daily business without fear of crime, which also has an impact on investment because companies don’t want to invest in areas with high crime.
“This is a big job maintaining front line police services at a time of considerable financial pressures and the Government is talking about 20 per cent cuts to the police budget.
“What we need from an elected PCC is someone dedicated to public service, law and order and who has respect for the police and their priorities.
“With Barry Coppinger we have the candidate who has the necessary leadership, drive and experience.”
Mr Coppinger said he will step down as a councillor and be “100 per cent” committed to the new PCC role, if elected.
He added: “I have spent a lot of time in Hartlepool recently and that is something that will continue.”
Three other candidates have so far put themselves forward for the PCC election and they are Sultan Alam, independent, Stockton councillor Ken Lupton, Conservative, and Joe Michna, manager of the Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau, in Park Road, who will stand as a Green Party candidate.
The PCC election will be held on the same day, Thursday, November 15, as the Mayoral referendum in Hartlepool, which will ask voters whether they want to keep the elected position in town.