Mark is new police commissioner
CONSERVATIVE Mark Shelford has been elected Avon and Somerset’s new police and crime commissioner.
The former soldier made election pledges to “reassure, refocus and rebuild” and prioritise preventing crime, not just trying to catch criminals.
He received 161,319 votes in the May 6 election, 15,000 ahead of Labour’s Kerry Barker, on 146,293, after first and second-preference votes were counted.
Green candidate Cleo Lake finished in third place, with 64,790 votes, Liberal Democrat Heather Shearer received 52,839 and independent John Smith 46,379.
Voting took place across South Gloucestershire, Bristol, B&NES, North Somerset and Somerset.
Mr Shelford topped the first round poll in every area except Bristol, while Mr Barker received more second round votes everywhere except for three of the four Somerset county districts.
The election was postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Mr Shelford will only serve a three-year term.
Speaking after the declaration, he said: “I’m going to have to work quickly, starting tomorrow.
“It’s really exciting and quite humbling.
"There’s a huge responsibility placed on my shoulders. I’m relishing the opportunity to get started as soon as possible.
“The force will grow in stature and be more self-assured. The people of Avon and Somerset will know the police are there for them.
“It’s about making the police more efficient and effective. We will do that together.”
Mr Shelford had criticised the police for the handling of recent "Kill the Bill" protests in Bristol and said the force should not have allowed a “mob” to pull down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston last summer.
One of his first tasks will be to appoint a new chief constable, after Andy Marsh steps down in July.
Mr Shelford said he would not rush into making an appointment and was looking for “somebody that exudes leadership and command, and has unshakeable belief in the Peelian principles of policing (by consent)".
He will also appoint a deputy PCC, and said he will work with the police and crime panel in doing so.
Outgoing PCC Sue Mountstevens made Mr Smith, her former chief executive, the first deputy PCC last year. But he was unable to repeat her success at the ballot box.
Mr Shelford, a former Army lieutenant colonel, served for four years as a Bath & North East Somerset councillor but lost his seat in 2019 after a boundary change.
In his acceptance speech he thanked the election staff, his team, his family and Ms Mountstevens, who he said had "worked tirelessly over the last nine years to keep the people of Avon and Somerset safer".
He thanked the “whole police family”, saying: “The public on the doorstep recognise your stoic courage and they all thank you for what you have done over the last years to keep Avon and Somerset safer.
“And last, thanks to the public who have lent me your vote. Together we can work to keep Avon and Somerset safer.”
In his concession speech, Mr Barker, who came second to Ms Mountstevens at the last elections in 2016, said: “Mark, we will be with you and watching you, and wanting to make sure this force gets a better share of resources from government, that the other criminal justice services also get a better share of resources and that we see vast improvements under your leadership.”
By Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporting Service
First round results:
Mark Shelford (Con) – 136,988
Kerry Barker (Lab) 93,495
Cleo Lake (Green) – 64,790
Heather Shearer (Lib Dem) – 52,839
John Smith (independent) – 46,379
Second round results:
Mark Shelford 161,319
(24,331 second preferences)
Kerry Barker 146,293 (52,798 second preferences)