Conservative named as Avon and Somerset police and crime commissioner

Mark Shelford and chief constable Andy Marsh

Mark Shelford and chief constable Andy Marsh. - Credit: Stephen Sumner

The Conservative’s ex-soldier candidate has been named as Avon and Somerset’s second police and crime commissioner.  

Mark Shelford made election pledges to “reassure, refocus and rebuild” and prioritise preventing crime, not just trying to catch criminals. 

He received 161,319 votes in the May 6 election, some 15,000 ahead of Labour’s Kerry Barker, on 146,293.  

Green candidate Cleo Lake finished in third place with 64,790 votes, 52,839 backed Liberal Democrat Heather Shearer and John Smith, the independent, won 46,379.  

With the election postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Shelford will only serve for a three-year term.  

He said: “I’m going to have to work quickly, starting tomorrow.  

“It’s really exciting and quite humbling. There’s a huge responsibility placed on my shoulders. I’m relishing the opportunity to get started as soon as possible.  

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“The force will grow in stature and be more self-assured. The people of Avon and Somerset will know the police are there for them.  

“It’s about making the police more efficient and effective. We will do that together.” 

Mr Shelford has criticised the police for its handling of the Kill the Bill riots and said it should not have allowed a “mob” to pull down the Bristol’s statue of slave trader Edward Colston. 

One of his first tasks will be to appoint a new chief constable after Andy Marsh announced he would leave the role in July, although he said he would not rush into a decision.  

The new PCC will also appoint a deputy, and said he will work with the police and crime panel in doing so.  

The role of deputy PCC was created last year to increase resilience at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Outgoing police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens appointed John Smith – the former chief executive of her office who stood as an independent – to the post.  

Giving his acceptance speech, the Conservative PCC thanked the election staff, his team, his family and Ms Mounstevens.  

He said: “She will always be known as the first PCC of Avon and Somerset. She has worked tirelessly over the last nine years to keep the people of Avon and Somerset safer.” 

He thanked the “whole police family”, saying: “The public on the doorstep recognise your stoic courage and they all thank you for what you have done over the last years to keep Avon and Somerset safer.  

“And last, thanks to the public who have lent me your vote. Together we can work to keep Avon and Somerset safer.” 

In his concession speech, Mr Barker, who came second to Ms Mountstevens at the last elections in 2016, wished mark well. 

He said: “Mark, we will be with you and watching you, and wanting to make sure this force gets a better share of resources from government, that the other criminal justice services also get a better share of resources and that we see vast improvements under your leadership.” 

How the results unfolded 

Mr Shelford took an early lead as the first results came in but that narrowed when the final authority, Bristol’s, came in.  

He was on 136,988 votes, 43,493 votes ahead of Labour’s Kerry Barker on 93,495.  

With more than 394,000 votes cast, no one candidate had an overall majority so the second preferences were taken into account and Green candidate Cleo Lake, Liberal Democrat Heather Shearer and John Smith, an independent, were eliminated from the race.  

With the second preference votes included, Mr Shelford received 161,319, some 15,000 ahead of Mr Barker, on 146,293.  

This is how many first preference votes each of the candidates received  

Kerry Barker (Lab) 93,495 

Cleo Lake (Green) – 64,790 

Heather Shearer (Lib) – 52,839 

Mark Shelford (Con) – 136,988 

John Smith (independent) – 46,379 

And second preference votes  

Kerry Barker received 52,798 second preference votes and Mark Shelford 24,331.  

The turnout was 30.7 per cent, up from 26 per cent in 2016, when Mr Barker came second to Sue Mountstevens with 45.9 per cent of the votes.  

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