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Black bishop seeking police chief job sees past politics

CANDIDATE: Bishop Derek Webley addresses the public in Aston, Birmingham

AS THE race to become the West Midlands first elected Police and Crime Commissioner begins in earnest, independent candidate Bishop Derek Webley has vowed to put people before politics in his pledge to make the region the safest place in the country.

The former chair of the West Midlands Police Authority told a packed public meeting in Aston, Birmingham (October 16) that he wanted to keep party politics out of policing, while continuing to make the police service more open to the public.

“I represent the needs of the people of the West Midlands, not a political party. People do not want to see policing politicised,” said Dr Webley, who is District Bishop at the New Testament Church of God, responsible for Birmingham and Solihull.

He revealed plans to create a £10m crime prevention fund, putting victims first, which he said would be key to preventing and reducing crime.

“Only an independent candidate could successfully run a fund like this. If a party political candidate were to run such a scheme, there would always be the danger that they would prioritise projects that favoured political associates,” he said.

But he added that he wanted to get tough on crime: “Firstly, I want to hit organised crime and gangs. It can feel that this sort of crime is invisible or remote from everyday life, but it’s not. It’s car key burglars targeting affluent areas; upmarket cars stolen by organised gangs for transport overseas; it’s cannabis farms in suburban estates, bringing human trafficking to streets across the West Midlands.

“It’s drug dealing leading to gang violence in urban areas; it’s criminals terrorising neighbourhoods and intimidating witnesses. Only when the police has a grip on organised crimes like these can local policing flourish.”

Webley is proud of the fact that during his three years chairing the Police Authority he took meetings out of police headquarters at Lloyd House and out to community locations so the public could ask questions. He vows that openness will continue adding he was never afraid to come out and face the public in challenging situations.

He spoke out about the need for clear policies on stop and search, adding: “I am not against stop and search. It’s an important part of policing, but I’m, against it being used in a disrespectful, undermining way without real cause. It should be used only with clear intelligence – technology can now play a vital part in scrutinising why a person was stopped in a particular place.”

Webley is one of eight candidates that 2.6 million people in the West Midlands can vote for on November 15. He fears people are "coasting" into the election, not realising they have a choice not to just vote for a party political candidate.

“We can’t let this election pass by us on autopilot,” he said.

Desmond Jaddoo, of Birmingham’s Empowerment Forum told the meeting at the Drum in Aston: “Four out of 10 black people are not eligible to vote. Publicly we are ridiculed because we don’t vote and this has to stop.”

He told how Simon Woolley, the director of the London-based lobby group Operation Black Vote was mocked after the last General Election by some MPs.

“They said to him ‘thank the black community for not voting because I was able to get in.’

“We have to mobilise the black vote in this city – only then can we have a voice. Do you want to be underlings all your life? We have the power. I am not telling you who to vote for – just register your vote and use it.”

*All eight candidates will speak at a public debate at The Drum, Potters Lane, Aston between 6.30pm and 7.30pm on Wednesday November 7. The confirmed candidates are: Cath Hannon, Bob Jones, Bill Etheridge, Mike Rumble, Matt Bennett, Ayoub Khan, Derek Webley and Ray Egan

Webley’s full manifesto is on his website: www.derekwebley.co.uk

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