What Leicestershire's new Police and Crime Commissioner plans to do first after winning the election
Rupert Matthews gained 135,566 votes - about 33,000 ahead of his nearest contender
New Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Rupert Matthews is promising people on his home patch of Harborough – you will come first in the fight to beat crime.
Mr Matthews, 59, uttered his rallying warcry after polling a total of 135,566 votes in last Thursday’s election to beat Labour PCC rival Ross Willmott by over 33,000.
The freelance writer has won the crucial police role for the Tories back from Labour as former Lutterworth mayor and Harborough councillor Lord Willy Bach served for one term.
The turnout in Harborough District was 38 per cent – the highest in Leicestershire.
Jubilant Mr Matthews, who lives at Kibworth Harcourt, told the Harborough Mail: “I am delighted to have been elected as the new PCC for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
“I put a lot of time, thought and effort into my manifesto – and it paid off as so many people got behind me.
“I really appreciate your support – and I won’t let you down.”
The author of over 170 books on history, ghosts, UFOs and paranormal activity, he stressed: “We will improve the level of policing across Harborough and right across the county over the next three or four years.
“I will work side by side with the police to make people safer day in day out.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s burglaries, robberies, vandalism, anti-social behaviour or violence.
“I’m determined to confront it and get on top of it.”
Asked how he was going to tackle and reduce crime, Mr Matthews replied: “We have to get more police officers out and about for a start.
“The Government is giving us more funding to recruit more officers.
“I want to focus on community policing.
“Police have to get out much more into our communities and liaise more closely with community chiefs such as parish council leaders, Neighbourhood Watch groups, even pub landlords and shopkeepers.
“These people know what is going on in their own backyards,” insisted the dad-of-two.
“They often know who’s to blame for trouble or crimes – and when and where offences such as vandalism happen as well.
“We have to make policing much more effective on the ground.
“I have got to write a new policing plan in the next three months pointing the way forward for the next few years.
“One of the first things I’ll be doing is drawing up a huge public consultation.
“I want to know what you - the people of Harborough and beyond – really think about crime.
“It’s absolutely no use me telling police to focus on tackling shoplifters if local people are far more worried by break-ins or assaults.
“I am urging everyone to take part and give us your views and opinions,” said Mr Matthews, a Member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands from June 2017 until July 1, 2019.
“The consultation will go ahead online.
“But there will also be, depending on cost, some sort of paper communication going through everyone’s letterbox as well – because I know that not everyone is online.
“This huge public exercise will be at the very heart of what I’ll do.
“Tell me what you want – tell me what you think.
“And this will just be the start.
“I’ll be holding public meetings and other consultations on a regular basis.
“I’ve been elected by the people, I’m answerable to the people and I have to stay in touch with the people.
“And if I don’t I’ll get kicked out at the next PCC election – because that’s the beauty of local democracy.
“It keeps you on your toes.
“But I do want to see more police out and about on the beat, re-engaging with the public,” said Mr Matthews, the county’s new top civilian police officer.
“Walk up and down our high streets, tour our town centres and shopping areas, walk through our parks, our neighbourhoods.
“Whether it be Market Harborough, Kibworth, Lutterworth – or Leicester and Coalville.
“I’m genuinely excited by this massive challenge and I can’t wait to get my teeth into the battle ahead.”