Police poll candidates clash on 'tosh' crime stats and street lights
A CANDIDATE for the new role of Derbyshire police and crime commissioner has said there is "something seriously wrong" with the force following an increase in complaints.
UKIP's David Gale also said that recent figures suggesting crime had fallen were "tosh".
His remarks came in response to a question at the first public hustings for the new £75,000-a-year role.
A member of the public asked about recent reports that crime was falling while complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission had risen by 15%.
Mr Gale said: "Something is seriously wrong. There is a culture of under-recording crimes and not following complaints properly."
But Alan Charles, the Labour candidate for the role, disagreed, saying: "Complaints increasing show that public confidence in the police is going up.
"People clearly believe that if they make a complaint it will be dealt with."
The hustings, held at the YMCA in London Road, Derby, allowed each of the candidates to speak for two minutes to answer questions.
About 25 people attended and other issues discussed included plans to switch off street lights in some county villages during the night to save money, and how this may affect crime.
Independent candidate Rod Hutton said: "I believe that the commissioner should lobby the council on this being a community safety issue and not turn the lights off."
But Conservative candidate Simon Spencer said that in fact lights being turned off can reduce crime.
Mr Spencer said: "Only 40% of lights will be switched off in the county between the hours of 12.30am and 5am.
"And statistics have shown that crime has actually been reduced in areas where lights have been turned off."
The candidates also tackled the issue of frontline policing in a time of austerity.
Mr Charles said: "I can't say that we will have bobbies on the beat when we have had the budget cut by 20%.
"But I will lobby government to tell them that we cannot cope with another cut."
Mr Hutton believed resources could be stretched further.
He said: "I want to see more visible policing by making backroom staff work better with officers to get them back out once they have bought someone into custody."
And Mr Spencer said: "It is not good enough to have officers spending time on things taking prisoners to hospital when they should be out on the streets."
Britain will go to the polls to elect police and crime commissioners on November 15.