INDEPENDENT candidate Ann Barnes has today been chosen as the first police and crime commissioner for Kent.
After a tense day of vote counting, the former chairman of the Kent Police Authority has been named the victor.
Kent yesterday went to the polls to select its winning candidate, in what was the first ever PCC election.
Elections took place across England and Wales, excluding London. Some 41 new PCCs will be elected in total.
But who is Ann Barnes, and what does she stand for?
The chairman of Kent Police Authority since 2005 and the Independent Deputy Chair of the National Association of Police Authorities for three years, Barnes has a wealth of experience.
An Independent candidate who has vowed to keep party politics out of Kent Police, Barnes has enjoyed a 27-year teaching career and boasts a strong policing track record.
Born in St Helens, Barnes has lived in Lyminge, near Folkestone, for more than 30 years. She taught firstly English and then business in secondary schools in Merseyside and Kent.
Barnes has been a magistrate since 1986, and was first appointed as a member of the Magistrates’ Association in 2001.
She was the Chair of East Kent Family Panel, a member of the Kent Family Justice Council - with responsibility for the strategic direction of family justice in Kent - and deputy chair of the Channel Bench.
According to her website, crime has reduced every year for the six she has been Chair of the Authority, and satisfaction is now at its highest ever level.
She has made £30 million efficiency savings, and been a champion of visible community policing.
Barnes is the president of Kent Neighbourhood Watch, and a member of Kent Police Protective Services Board.
She has advised the Home Secretary on Senior Officer appointments, and guided the Government on strategic policy matters.
Barnes has also been the Police Authority representative on the Home Office Capability Review Group, and Chaired the official side of the Police Negotiating Board.
She has also served on the High Level Working Group chaired by the Police Minister, the body that examines important national policing issues. Barnes also helped develop the new Police Professional body.
In addition to her policing expertise, Barnes is also heavily involved with the community. She is a Samaritan at the Folkestone Branch, a member of the Parochial Church Council, the Secretary of Lyminge Playgroup and on the Board of Visitors at Dover Young Offenders’ Institute.
Her promise to keep party politics in Westminster and away from Kent Police has been a key element of her campaign. She describes herself as “a ‘no nonsense’, principled woman, I never make promises I don’t keep. I am not a politician and am beholden only to you.”
Mapping her vision, Barnes says she will fight Government cuts to Kent Police, and strive to find new ways of keeping as many officers on the streets as possible.
She has pledged to give people a greater say in policing matters, and put victims at the heart of the police.
She will also appoint a young person as the Kent Police Youth Commissioner – a UK first. This new post will advise the PCC on all aspects of policing, security and crime prevention issues specifically related to the youngsters of Britain.