WHILE we still don’t know when the Prime Minister will decide to call the General Election, on May 2 there is another chance for voters to make their voices heard.

Thursday, May 2 sees us all being invited to our local polling station – if we haven’t already completed a postal vote – to select a new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Devon and Cornwall. Whether it’s burglaries or break ins, drug or drink related offences, theft from farms and gardens, serious attacks in the home or on the street or anti-social behaviour – they all have an effect on us, either personally, financially or as a wider community.

That’s why I was pleased to catch up recently with the Liberal Democrat PCC candidate Steve Lodge in Wadebridge recently. Steve had some good insights into what happens in North Cornwall and is committed to making a difference once elected. Steve Lodge, believes that years of ineffective resourcing have left local police forces overstretched, under-resourced and unable to effectively respond to local crime. This includes taking more than 4,500 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) taken off the streets since 2015.  

Steve Lodge and the Lib Dems are calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted, and able to focus on responding to neighbourhood crime including burglaries. Steve told me that in Devon and Cornwall the response time for a burglary is 22 hours and 11 minutes and compared to a county like Bedfordshire where it's just 15 minutes, you have to ask what is going wrong? There are only two other police forces in the country that have longer response times than Devon and Cornwall. 

I think that it’s time to finally restore proper community policing, so people can be confident that if they do fall victim to crime, the police will turn up swiftly and investigate properly. 

Don’t forget to take along some photo identification with you when you go to the polling station and you can always bring your postal vote to the polling station if you don’t post it in time.

Ben Maguire, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for North Cornwall