The two main political candidates for who will be the next Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire have been announced. I live in hope that, between now and the election in May, some additional and quality independent candidates will also throw their hats into the ring.
Most importantly I also hope more people will decide to vote in this election than they did in 2012.
The current PCC, Clive Grunshaw, is probably the lead candidate and has an excellent chance of being re-elected. During the early part of his time in office, Mr Grunshaw was relatively anonymous, probably because it must have taken some time to establish an effective PCC team, business processes and a policing plan in what was a brand new role.
However, during the past 12 months, Mr Grunshaw has been far more impressive and deserves a great deal of credit, especially for his role in challenging the government over the proposed cuts to police funding.
His main rival will be the Conservative candidate Andrew Pratt, a former Lancashire police superintendent and colleague of mine. Mr Pratt was not a stereotypical police officer in his approach to policing. He is very intelligent, calm, thoughtful and was renowned for his engagement work with minority communities.
He has a wide array of experience outside of policing and, quite rightly, should be regarded as a very strong candidate for PCC.
However, on a personal note, I still have doubts as to whether any long-serving former police officers should become a PCC. It seems to defeat the entire purpose of having the role. There is also the possibility the role of the PCC may change in the near future to include oversight of the fire service. I therefore think it is important the candidate should not just be judged on the colour of their politics or specialist policing knowledge but on their overall personal abilities and experience of operating within the public, private and voluntary sectors.
The PCC job is a very powerful and important role; the people of Lancashire should think carefully about whom they select to do it.