Ahead of the May Police and Crime Commissioner elections, we spoke to all the candidates about what the biggest issues surrounding policing in Wiltshire are, and what they promise to do to solve them.

Independent: Mike Rees

Independent: Mike Rees

Independent candidate, Mike Rees, said one his biggest concern was the financial situation of the force in Wiltshire – often dubbed as one of the least funded in England.

He said that he will lobby the government for increased funding to increase police numbers in the county.

“Salisbury needs a Police station and custody unit. People say it can’t be done but if you don’t try, it will never happen,” added Mr Rees.

“The stresses of the job are causing sickness and mental health issues, and this further reduces Police numbers and causes morale issues.”

Julian Malins

Julian Malins

Julian Malins QC, who is running for Reform UK, said the big issue on his mind was that of internet fraud.

“Everybody has their own,” he said. “Mine is fraud, especially internet fraud. The police, not just in Wiltshire, are light years behind the crooks. This has to change.

“With more space, I could give you a lockdown example, which my team cracked, but the police could not."

Labour: Junab Ali

Labour: Junab Ali

Labour candidate, Junab Ali said: “Despite every MP for our PCC area being Conservative, a Conservative PCC being in place for two terms, both councils for Wiltshire and Swindon being Conservative controlled and Conservative controlled governments for over 10 years no progress has been achieved on this and I will seek to remedy this.

“Without the right level of funding from government we will always be short of the resources we need to support our residents and businesses and have an effective police force for Wiltshire.

“Other issues such as ensuring the right resources for the police, police buildings etc. can only be improved with fairer funding.”

Brig Oubridge, Green party candidate

Brig Oubridge, Green party candidate

Green candidate, Brig Oubridge said that sex crimes and community relations are two of the biggest issues. Adding he would improve the communication between the force and Wiltshire residents including a news sheet delivered two per year.

Mr Ourbridge, added: “I also find the recent rise in knife crime in the nearby Reading area alarming, and I would like to see more outreach on this topic into schools and a possible knife amnesty to head off any similar rise in Wiltshire and Swindon.”

Green: Brig Oubridge

Liberal Democrat candidate, Liz Webster 

Liberal Democrat hopeful, Liz Webster said: “The biggest issues facing Wiltshire Police are mostly down to us being one of the worst funded in the country.

“Neighbouring counties such as Gloucestershire receive over £3m more than Wiltshire. Austerity has exacerbated this unfairness and the loss of staff and resources from Conservative cuts over the last decade have understandably impacted on the morale of the force.

“It is absolutely essential for our communities that our police feel valued and respected. They are the ones on the front line and unfortunately often people are quick to blame them for the fall out of decisions made in Westminster.

“If I’m elected, I will campaign hard and fight for funding for Wiltshire Police to be levelled up so that more of our police stations don’t have to be sold off to balance the books.

“If I’m elected, I will campaign hard and fight for funding for Wiltshire Police to be levelled up so that more of our police stations don’t have to be sold off to balance the books.”

PCC candidate Jonathon Seed

Conservative candidate Jonathon Seed

Conservative hopeful, Jonathon Seed said that one of crime is now more complex with officers having to walk a “digital beat” to keep up with this demand.

“A significant amount of crime has an online element to it so giving officers the training and technology to take the fight to the cyber criminals is another issue for the force.

“And this is at the same time as responding to the need to find missing people, support those in mental health crisis, disrupt the gangs who terrorise our countryside, tackle county drugs lines and the terrible abuses that go on behind closed doors.

"These competing and growing demands need more resources, so I want to put more officers in our communities to help deal with the demand on policing, and local people tell me they want that too.”

The Police & Crime Commissioner elections are set to be held on May 6, 2021. Originally they were due to take place last year, but were postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Angus Macpherson extended his tenure in the role until the current election period.

The PCC vote count will take place on Monday, May 10 at Five Rivers, Salisbury.