Four candidates are competing to be the Hampshire and Isle of Wight police and crime commissioner (PCC) when residents go to the polls tomorrow (Thursday, May 2).

PCCs are elected representatives who hold police forces and chief constables to account, and decide how much residents pay towards policing through their council tax.

Throughout the four-year term, the role includes publishing a police and crime plan, which involves consulting with the public on their priorities and then detailing how they aim to address these issues.

Ahead of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight PCC election we asked the four candidates 10 questions to provide an insight into their policies and personality.

Below, incumbent Conservative Donna Jones discusses her proudest achievement as PCC, tackling anti-social behaviour and budget pressures. The other candidates are Prad Bains (Liberal Democrat), Don Jerrard (The Justice and Anti-Corruption Party) and Becky Williams (Labour).

Why should people care about the PCC election?

Policing and the management of the criminal justice system is one of the most important public services. It is right that the public have the ability to influence the way their local police force is run and the local policing priorities set by the police and crime commissioner for the chief constable to deliver.

Victims’ services are paid for by the PCC as are all contracts such as the purchase of Tasers, police cars and forensic contracts.

What are the biggest challenges facing the constabulary in the next four years?

The growing complexity of crime was sped-up by Covid with international and national criminal gangs moving their operations online. The growth of crimes online poses one of the biggest threats to children, elderly and vulnerable at the same time.

Whilst I’ve successfully managed the police force budget over the last three years including increasing the return on investments from £2m a year to £5.8m, as we approach the general election at the end of a three-year comprehensive spending review, the uncertainty of Home Office grants for the next three years has meant I’ve started to reserve funds for all eventualities.

Does Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary have enough police officers and what should the priorities be for the force?

No. This has been a concern for the last three years. The government funded the recruitment of 498 police officers. When I took office in May 2021, I pledged 600 more police officers.

I’m pleased to confirm that I achieved this pledge in March 2023. In April 2023 I pledged 50 more police officers. The 650th police officer was recruited in March this year and I’m pleased to have found the funding for another 75 more police officers in January this year. This will be a net increase of 725 more police officers in just over three years.

What do you see as the most important function of the police and crime commissioner position?

Acting on public sentiment. One example is the 101 call service. Calls to the non-emergency line were not being answered quickly enough with people waiting upwards of 30 mins (May 2021). The public complained that there was a lack of feedback when crimes or information were reported.

I’ve listened and acted. In the last six months, I’ve funded the recruitment of 75 more call handlers and opened a new call centre in the east of the county. This has led to a significant reduction in call waiting times, with the average waiting time less than five minutes since October 2023.

The police and crime commissioner is a political role. How much political experience do you have?

I have 16 years experience representing the public most notably as the leader of Portsmouth City Council. I have experience of managing public sector finances, aided by my background in business and banking.

The police budget is over £465m a year which brings a high level of responsibility and decision making. In order to best represent the businesses in the police force area, I sit on the board of the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce. I served as a magistrate in Hampshire for 16 years before becoming the PCC in May 2021.

What is or was your day job outside of politics?

I work full-time as the police and crime commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle Wight. I am also the chair of the National Association of Police and Crime Commissioners making me one of the five national police leaders working directly with the Home Secretary, Home Office, as well as the Ministry of Justice.

I chair the criminal justice board for Hampshire and Isle of Wight with the regional directors of the CPS, probation, prisons and judges in attendance. I set up and chair the homicide review board and the drugs partnership board.

What is your proudest achievement as PCC and what is your top goal if re-elected?

Re-introducing local bobbies across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. I have funded 99 dedicated local bobbies in January this year. This means that every village, hamlet, town and city across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight now has a police officer whose sole responsibility is to support the community and reduce and solve crime.

Their mobile phone number, name and email address are available online and can be found here

We have also seen 6,700 fewer crimes committed over the last 12 months, making communities safer.

What crime blights people’s lives the most and how can it be tackled?

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) and frauds and scams. In August 2021, I set up an ASB fund. I have recently announced £500,000 for the ASB fund which all areas across the county have bid into. I have funded street lighting, CCTV, youth diversion programmes (delivered by specialist charities) and other initiatives.

In July 2023, I held the county’s first cyber crime and fraud conference bringing together the National Crime Agency, the South East Cyber Resilience Centre and national banks. Education is key to reducing harm as is sharing data and information with other countries to break international criminal networks.

Should Hampshire and Isle of Wight residents expect to pay more towards policing every year and why?

No. Through careful budget planning, taxation can and should be kept to a minimum. This year, in spite of recruiting 152 more police officers than the government funded, I was able to set aside the funding for another 75 police officers whilst having one of the lowest police precept increases in the country.

Through careful budget planning over the last three years, I have been able to open new police stations and front counters across the police force area with 10 having been committed to in 2024/2025.

And lastly, who is your role model in life?

William Wilberforce – British politician and philanthropist (1759 – 1833). Wilberforce always said what was right, not was expected. He was a key sponsor of the abolition of slavery, campaigning for 20 years until the law was changed.

The concept of one human being owning and trading another is abhorrent. It is one of the most important laws this country has passed. Sadly, the rise in slavery is increasing around the world with Hampshire and IOW Constabulary responding to multiple reports each year. Through my office, we lead the modern-day slavery board.

Candidate Don Jerrard (The Justice and Anti-Corruption Party) did not respond to the invitation to contribute to the Hampshire PCC Q&A.