Newly elected police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne has vowed to “engage local communities” after polling stations across the region recorded low voting figures.
Katy, 48, couldn’t attract a majority after first preference votes were counted but after second preferences were accounted for, she emerged the winner ahead of Labour’s Godfrey Daniel.
Turnout in the region was low, with 13.4 per cent in Worthing, 13.9 per cent in Adur and 14.8 per cent in Arun casting their votes.
Despite this, Katy said she was “thrilled” to be chosen and pointed out that this was the first time that voters could have a say in policing.
She explained: “It’s a great honour to be elected and a great responsibility but I’m looking forward to getting on with the job in hand.
“Police authorities were never elected to their roles and around 195,000 people voted on Thursday and they’re people who want a say on policing in Sussex.”
The affiliation of candidates to political parties has also been one of the key criticisms of the elections but Bourne stressed that her political allegiances would not impact on the day-to-day running of the police.
She said: “This is a political role because commissioners have to make big decisions around tax and spending, which are all political issues.
“But the police in Sussex do a great job and my role is to support them.”
Katy used Worthing as an example of how her role would be highly focused on interacting with local communities.
She added: “I held a street surgery in Worthing and issues were around alcohol antisocial behaviour and there were some concerns about drugs. I hope to help tackle these.
“Police authorities were disbanded because they failed to engage with the public so a key part of this role is engaging local communities.”
Speaking at the Worthing count, deputy mayor Bob Smytherman, was critical of the timing of the elections.
He said: “The turnout was terrible, it’s very disappointing.”
“The commissioner will have no mandate but have got a very important job.
“In four years time we need to get free post allowances like we do for general elections to get the message out.”
Katy will take office on November 22 in Lewes, where she will swear an oath of impartiality in front of a magistrate.
She is not obliged to appoint a deputy commissioner but must make other key appointments, including a chief financial officer.
Her work will come under scrutiny from the newly formed Police and Crime Panel, made up of councillors and although they cannot veto her budget, they will have a say on the council tax precept she sets.
More details about the role can be found on the commissioner’s new website, which is scheduled to launch on Thursday.
It can be found at www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk