ON MAY 6 people across Dorset will be given the chance to vote for their preferred candidate to take on the role of the county's police and crime commissioner.

Responsible for holding Dorset Police's chief constable, James Vaughan, to account the successful candidate will replace independent Martyn Underhill who has held the role since 2012. He has chosen not to stand for re-election.

Police and crime commissioners are supposed to be "the voice of the people" within policing and set police priorities and the forces' budgets.

Five candidates have been put forward for the Dorset position at the May 6 election, they are:

Patrick Canavan – Labour Party

Bournemouth Echo: Labour Party candidate Patrick Canavan

The former trade union officer and law graduate was also the Labour candidate for the role of police and crime commissioner in 2016.

He said he had “considerable experience” dealing with a range of bodies and “bringing about organisational change”.

Among his priorities is crime prevention through greater community focus to support multi-agency efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour and drug trafficking.

He has also promised to increase support for victims of crime to create confidence in reporting them and to improve prosecution rates in cases of domestic violence, abuse and hate crime.

And his manifesto also pledges to work with outside organisations to encourage rehabilitation and reduce re-offending.

Mark Robson – Liberal Democrats

Bournemouth Echo: Liberal Democrat candidate Mark Robson

The BCP councillor is a former Royal Marine who served in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq and commanded part of the national counter terrorist response.

He said this has given him experience of planning large budgets and collaborating with a range of organisations.

His priorities include improving support for victims of crime and to do more to improve domestic abuse and child exploitation work.

He said he would also put greater focus on tackling fraud and scammers and on enforcing driving rules.

He has also promised to expand Dorset Police’s drone and rural crime teams.

Claire Seymour – Green Party

Bournemouth Echo: Green Party candidate Claire Seymour

A strategic lead for anti-social behaviour for a housing association, Claire Seymour has been selected as the Green Party’s candidate for police and crime commissioner.

She has worked with Dorset Police as an analyst and with a range of charities and organisations, including Victim Support and the county’s Domestic Abuse Forum.

She said she would bring a “fresh perspective” to policing issues.

Included in her priorities is more focus on domestic abuse, sexual violence and improving general crime prevention efforts.

She has also pledged to give greater support to police staff and volunteers and victims and witnesses of crime through greater community working.

Dan Hardy – Independent

Bournemouth Echo: Independent candidate Dan Hardy

The independent candidate is a former police officer and security firm managing director who lives in Poole.

He said he has “substantial” experience with a “well-structured and carefully-costed” plan should he be elected to the role.

It includes four main priority areas the first of which is a pledge to increase police officer numbers above levels planned by the government and to improve partnerships with councils and businesses.

And it promises an “effective” plan that would allow Dorset Police “to work efficiently and free from political influence”.

Better collaboration is also promised with the aim of reducing crime as well as more work to reduce re-offending to “divert offenders from criminal cycles”.

David Sidwick – Conservative Party

Bournemouth Echo: Conservative Party candidate David Sidwick

The Bournemouth businessman was selected as the Conservative candidate for the position two years ago before the election was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said his career has given him the experience of dealing with “substantial” budgets and “a grounding in strategy, communication and resource allocation”.

He has created a “six-point plan” outlining his priorities for the position with top billing given to “cutting crime” and “the constant grind of anti-social behaviour”.

It also promises to make policing “more visible”, to tackle organised gangs and to put greater emphasis on dealing with rural crime.

He has also promised to improve the support for victims of crime and for communities while “making every penny count” by cutting administration demands on police staff.