North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner candidates: Five to pick from
Jez Hemming, local democracy reporter
With nominations closed for the 2021 North Wales Police and crime Commissioner race, we’ve compiled a guide to the job, the candidates and the election itself.
With voting less than a month away we are guaranteed a newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).
Arfon Jones of Plaid Cymru decided he would step down after his term ended, having been elected to the post in 2016.
He succeeded lawyer Winston Roddick, the first person to hold the role of PCC in North Wales.
Below we look at the five candidates standing for PCC, their experience and the key issues they are fighting the election on.
The candidates this time:
Cllr Andy Dunbobbin – Labour Party
Andy Dunbobbin has been a Flintshire county councillor for Connah’s Quay Golftyn ward for eight years and has lived, worked and studied in North Wales his whole life.
He’s also a member of the Police and Crime Panel which oversees the work of the PCC.
He is his local authority’s armed forces champion and previously sat on the North Wales Adoption Panel.
Cllr Dunbobbin, 46, has worked as a social innovation outreach worker liaising with community leaders and residents, council officers, local groups and third sector organisations.
His top priority is visible local policing and he points to Labour’s pledge to increase the number of PCSOs by 20%.
He also wants to support victims and communities, create a fair and effective criminal justice system and be a visible and responsible PCC.
He said: “I want to be the bridge between North Wales Police and the people
“As a working family man I know we all want to be safe, at home, at school, at work and when out and about in our communities.
“Nobody should ever feel left behind and everybody’s well-being is at the heart of why I entered public life.
“Visibility in our communities would be my top priority. We all want to be safe and secure – this really matters to us.
“Having a more visible police presence would reassure our communities and help towards us reclaiming the streets.”
Patricia Astbury – Conservatives
Pat Astbury is the current chair of the Police and Crime Panel, which oversees the work of the PCC, on which she’s served since it replaced the North Wales Police Authority in 2012.
In her 60s she is the panel’s modern slavery and child exploitation champion and the only Welsh executive on the National Association of Police, Crime and Fire Panels.
A Welsh speaker, Mrs Astbury has been Ruthin’s mayor, a lay member of the North Wales Courts Board, lay member of the multi-agency public protection agency (MAPPA) and the Choose Life substance misuse project.
She believes in zero tolerance on organised crime and drug dealers by making North Wales an unwelcome place for them.
She said the “misery makers” should face tougher sentences, adding: “The law states dealing or supplying Class A drugs can mean life imprisonment but that never happens.”
Mrs Astbury also wants a discussion on road traffic offences as there are “far too many deaths on our roads, far too many injured”.
She said: “Membership of the Police and Crime Panel, and particularly as its chair, has given me a front row seat in policing and crime matters.
“If I win the election my focus will be on antisocial behaviour, rural crime, safer roads, domestic abuse and violence (including coercive behaviour), organised crime and cyber crime.
“I do not have a ‘one lane’ approach to thinking and behaving. I am always open to suggestions, ideas and will never dismiss them without discussion.”
Ann Griffith – Plaid Cymru
Ann Griffith, 60, is well versed in the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, having been Arfon Jones’ deputy between 2016 and last March when her contract expired.
She has described herself previously as the “continuity candidate who can hit the ground running”.
Originally from Barmouth in Gwynedd, Ms Griffith was an Anglesey county councillor for Bro Aberffraw ward before stepping down at the 2017 local elections.
With more than 30 years experience as a registered social worker, spending 10 of them with the NSPCC, she is keen to develop more partnerships with public and third sector organisations to attack the root causes of criminality.
Among her key priority areas are the wellbeing and development of officers and staff, tackling violence against women and girls, investing in neighbourhood policing to tackle anti-social behaviour and reducing reoffending through restorative justice programmes.
Ms Griffith said: “As ‘the service of last resort’ the police are there to pick up the pieces.
“Only 25% of police time is spent actually investigating
“But I will undertake to do my utmost to ensure the entire workforce feels valued, well cared for and supported.
“I’m also committed to ending violence against women and girls. Victims of rape and sexual violence have lost faith in the justice system according to the Victim’s Commissioner and I promise to champion their rights.
Cllr Mark Young – Independent
Denbigh business owner Mark Young is a county councillor for his home town and the authority’s lead member for safer communities, public protection and domestic abuse.
He’s also chair of the county’s CCTV partnership and wants to ensure North Wales is a safer place to live and work.
Cllr Young, who is 53 and owns a chocolate shop in Denbigh, was the source of news in 2015 when he became known as the “crime-fighting chocolatier” after patrolling the town himself due to a spate of burglaries committed against local shops.
He blamed then PCC Winston Roddick for leaving the area vulnerable through a lack of leadership, with not enough officers and £40m sitting in police reserves.
Unsurprisingly at the top of his list of priorities is safer communities and more visible policing.
Cllr Young also wants to combat county lines drugs gangs, modern slavery and child exploitation, provide more resources to fight cybercrime and fraud and set up a youth engagement group to give a voice to young people in North Wales.
He said: “As an independent police and crime commissioner, I would be able to serve the people, unlike other candidates who would have to serve their political masters in Cardiff or Westminster – or both.
“I am the candidate who can keep the political parties out of running North Wales Police, rather than being subservient to vested political interests.”
Lisa Ashley Wilkins – Welsh Liberal Democrats
Lisa Wilkins is a childminder and former teacher of 10 years and she believes, along with her party, the role of PCC should be scrapped and power and resources handed back to chief constables.
Nevertheless she is standing for North Wales PCC with a full list of policies.
Among those polices are putting a strong focus on community policing and working with local communities to help tackle the causes of crime.
She is also following the party’s line on facial recognition surveillance by halting its use by police forces in Wales until there is greater accountability and transparency.
Ms Wilkins will also oppose UK Government attempts to restrict the right to protest and is standing on a platform of protecting individual freedoms and encouraging rehabilitation of offenders.
In addition the party has pledged to work with elected PCCs to drive forward harm reduction policy, including the creation of legal drug consumption rooms to take dangerous drugs off the streets.
The party also believes believe powers over youth justice, probation services, prisons and policing should be devolved to allow Wales to create an “effective, liberal, community-based approach to policing and tackling crime”.
She said: “These roles were created by the Conservatives in Westminster and have done little to catch the public’s imagination, or their perceptions of the police and the vast majority of Wales will struggle to name any PCC yet alone their own.
“It’s time these offices were scrapped once and for all.”