Any doubts as to how seriously the Conservatives will be taking the elections in a year's time for Police Commissioners have been thoroughly dispelled this morning. CCHQ have launched a new section of their website stressing the importance of the election and providing an opportunity for those interested in standing to submit their details.
We're looking for very high calibre candidates for what will be high profile and public roles.
Police and Crime Commissioners will have to be leaders.
Commissioners will need to work with the police as well as with other local agencies while engaging with the public and the media.
We will be casting the net widely and certainly will look beyond those who have previously worked on police authorities.
Commissioners could come with experience as business leaders, from military or policing backgrounds, from national as well as local politics, or from other fields.
There is no specific pledge that the Conservatives will have their own candidates in all 41 police authority areas that are choosing a directly elected commissioner. But that is the general message.
Also in a speech this morning to the Institute for Government, Nick Herbert, the Minister of State for Policing and Justice stressed the significance of the change:
41 elected Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales will take office on 22 November 2012.
The public will have been to the polls the previous week, on 15 November.
They will now know who will be leading the fight against crime in their community.
They will know exactly what their elected Police and Crime Commissioner has committed to doing.
They will be ready for their elected representative to show they have earned the public’s support.
And they will know what to do if they don’t deliver.
The PCC will have spent the last few days meeting with the Chief Constable and local partners such as probation, health, education and local voluntary organisations …… planning how to fulfil the PCC's commitments to fight crime and anti-social behaviour and deliver safer streets for their community.
These conversations between local agencies will have a new sense of purpose and, more importantly, a new impetus.
They will be driven by one clear aim – to use the backing the PCC has received from the people to deliver a real, tangible difference to the lives of the electorate they represent.
Herbert also gave his own thoughts on suitable candidates for the role:
Police and Crime Commissioners will need to be outstanding leaders.
They will be hugely important figures in the communities they represent.
This is a real opportunity for dynamic and driven individuals to step forward to ensure that the public get the PCCs they need.
The role will be demanding and challenging. The first set of elected PCCs will be pioneers, driving through changes in relatively uncharted territory. They will need a firm resolve and commitment to engage with the public, listen and respond to their needs.
PCCs will not be expected to run the police.
As the Protocol which the Home Secretary is laying in the House today makes clear, the Police are the professionals – they run the force and they are the experts.
The role of the PCC is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account.
But the PCC will determine how crime fighting resources are allocated. Outside of London they will be responsible for budgets ranging from tens of millions, and in some cases hundreds of millions, of pounds.
They will need to ensure that resources are spent in a way that best serves their electorate and the public interest.
They will set the police precept, determining how much local taxpayers should pay for their force.
They will, in consutation with their chief constable, set the policing plan and strategic priorities.
They will appoint, and if necessary dismiss, the chief constable.
These are big jobs for big figures.
So today I am issuing a clarion call for prospective candidates to step forward.
And I hope that elected representatives at the national and local level, think-tanks and voluntary organisations, business leaders and community activists will all back the search for the best possible candidates.
I want dynamic leaders, community champions, pioneers and entrepreneurs to consider standing for this office.
We need people of real calibre who have built or led organisations and who are committed to public service to step forward.
Candidates could have experience in the private, voluntary or public sector.
We want people from all backgrounds, who can bring new perspectives to a service that hasn't always represented the communities it polices.
Women, people from ethnic minorities and disabled people are under-represented in elected office.
This is an opportunity for people from all walks of life to stand and to make a difference.
And candidates don’t have to be politicians to stand.
They can be independent of political parties.
Today we have launched a dedicated section on the Home Office website for members of the public and those interested in finding out more about the role of PCCs.
It is recommended that PCCs be paid between £65,000 and £100,000 a year dependingg on the size of the force. Full details on the role are available on the Home Office website here.