INDEPENDENT candidate Ann Barnes has been elected as the first Kent Police and Crime Commissioner.
The result of yesterday's election was announced at Dover Town Hall this afternoon after the former Kent Police Authority chairman saw off the challenge of Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay.
In the first round of voting - which recorded the first-preference votes awarded to each candidate - Ms Barnes won 95,901 votes to Mr Mackinlay's 51,671. But because she did not win a majority of those votes cast the pair went through to a second round of the count.
Once the second-preference votes were counted Ms Barnes emerged as the winner of the contest by 18,236 votes to 8,577.
Speaking after the result was declared, she said: "I am absolutely delighted, people on the streets of Kent did not want a politician running their police. I won't privatise the force and will fiercely fight any more cuts to policing in Kent."
Commenting on recent allegations that a small number of Kent Police officers may have manipulated crime statistics, Ms Barnes told reporters she was dismayed when see heard of the matter.
"They are allegations and we will have to wait and see," she said. "But it's a question of trust, and once you lose people's trust you have to work very hard to get it back again.
"If these people are guilty it reflects very badly on them. There is no place for it and no excuse for it either."
The new commissioner will take up the £85,000-a-year role - with responsibility for setting priorities for Kent Police, overseeing its budget and hiring the chief constable - after spending £70,000 on her campaign for the job.
Her campaign finance included £50,000 of her own money which was inherited from her father.
The victorious independent's website says she will place her focus on cutting crime and fighting more government cuts to Kent Police.
Just 16.3 per cent of the Kent electorate cast a vote in the election yesterday, reflecting the low level of turnout seen in other areas of the country. Some have suggested this lack of participation casts doubts on the legitimacy of the election.
Additional reporting by Stuart Woledge