Race to become Gloucestershire's police tsar gets personal
The race to become Gloucestershire's new policing tsar has got personal.
Gloucester's Tory MP Richard Graham used a parliamentary debate to take a sideswipe at the Labour candidate Rupi Dhanda, arguing her husband, and his predecessor, Parmjit, had campaigned for the abolition of the Gloucestershire force she was now seeking to be commissioner of.
In turn Mrs Dhanda expressed her disappointment that the only county MP to speak in the opposition debate chose to attack her husband rather than focus on police cuts.
Voters across England and Wales are due to go to the polls on November 15 to elect a police and crime commissioner for each force area. They will replace appointed local police authorities.
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The PCC, who will be paid £65,000 a year in Gloucestershire, will have the power to hire and fire chief constables and will also set the force's budget and "strategic direction".
Experts predict turnout could be as low as 15 per cent and the Government has been criticised for holding the elections in winter and not making enough efforts to publicise the elections and failing to offer candidates a free mail shot with their policies.
In an intervention during the policing debate, Mr Graham agreed with a Conservative colleague interest in candidates for election was "very high".
He added: "Many of my constituents want to know why the wife of the former Member of Parliament for Gloucestershire, who campaigned specifically to abolish to Gloucestershire constabulary, is now standing to be the police commissioner for that very force. Does he agree that some curiosities are emerging?"
Tory MP Andrew Percy said: "All I can say in response to him is that you literally could not make it up. It gets more ridiculous by the day."
But speaking after the debate, Mrs Dhanda said: "I am really disappointed of the six (Gloucestershire) MPs who could have made a contribution to the debate, the only who did used it to attack my husband rather than contributing to a serious debate on police cuts."
During the debate, Labour's Shadow Policing Minister David Hanson raised concerns about the way the Government was cutting police budgets, insisting that dropping the number of officers on the front line would lead to rising crime.
Responding to opposition criticism, Mr Graham said: "In the county of Gloucestershire last year, costs went down by four per cent and crime went down by four per cent."
The Tory MP told a Labour member: "Would he prefer to say to my constituents, "We want to see expenditure up, crime up and your council bills going up as well"? Is that the message he would like to give out?"