THE battle to be Wiltshire’s first police and crime commissioner is officially under way after the nomination period for candidates opened this week – and two independent hopefuls were announced.

Police and crime commissioners are being brought in by the Government to replace police authorities in England and Wales, and will have the power to hire and fire chief constables and set the force’s budget and strategy.

Four candidates have formally notified Swindon Council they intend to stand in the county-wide poll on November 15.

More people are expected to come forward before the deadline for nominations at noon on October 19.

The current candidates are Labour’s Clare Moody and the Conservatives’ Angus Macpherson, who were announced by their parties earlier this year, as well as independents Colin Skelton and Liam Silcocks.

The Lib Dems are still choosing a candidate.

Ms Moody, a south west regional officer at the union Unite, said her priorities were to protect funding for neighbourhood policing, stamp out hidden crime such as domestic violence and hate crime, She also wants to boost the democratic face of policing by appearing in and listening to the public.

“One of the most commented-upon parts of people’s experiences of crime in Wiltshire is anti-social behaviour,” she said.

“The most effective way to deal with this is protecting those front-line neighbourhood police teams because they deal with it.”

Mr Macpherson, an accountant who has been a Swindon magistrate for 20 years, said he aimed to boost volunteering, champion restorative justice, and to commission Wiltshire’s drug and alcohol services together, rather than in isolation, to provide better value for money and tackle substance abuse more holistically.

“You’ve got drug and alcohol services that are paid for getting people off drugs but if they’re using alcohol to excess that doesn’t matter. It’s about joining things up,” he said.

Mr Skelton, of Salisbury, who has spent 20 years at the forefront of counter terrorism research, policy and training, within the Civil Service, pledges to put 300 more police officers on the streets of Wiltshire, ensure the top 100 worst offenders are targeted, cut crime by 20 per cent, and ensure fair treatment for officers and staff.

He said: “I will set up five enhanced integrated offender management teams across Wiltshire, each targeting the 20 most prolific offenders in their area.

“If offenders do not change their behaviour, they will be aggressively targeted for intensive supervision and disruption to their activities, while building a solid case against them prior to their prosecution.

Some of the key policies of Mr Silcocks, an IT professional, of West Ashton, Trowbridge, is to establish a completely independent panel to review any alleged police wrongdoings and to ban the use of the Lti 2020 hand-held speed gun, which he claims is unreliable.