WEST Mercia’s first elected Police and Crime Comm-issioner (PCC) has spoken of the benefits of keeping policing local and building links with communities throughout the region.

Bill Longmore and his deputy Barrie Sheldon were special guests of Pershore Civic Society for a question and answer session at the St Andrew’s Centre opposite Pershore Abbey, where they spoke of the importance of keeping Community Support Officers and increasing their powers where possible.

He also acknowledged the need to maintain a presence of special constables in towns and villages.

Mr Longmore was questioned about the tough start to his office since his election in November in which he had to survive a vote of no-confidence from Worcestershire County Council after claims of ‘cronyism’ surfaced when he appointed his campaign manager as his deputy without advertising the job.

Mr Longmore said: “I could have wished for a better start but we have got to keep on going and get into communities. I think some of the things we are going to do are quite exciting.

“Hopefully, we can bring a better community into West Mercia and because we have had to concentrate on complying to government deadlines we have been really restricted.”

He also intends to set up a regular point of contact in the town to pass on any concerns and ideas to the force’s chief constable.

Society member John Williams, who organised the event last Thursday, said it was a successful exercise and although most people went away reasonably satisfied with what they had heard, many were still unsure about the role of the PCC.

“I think we really have to reserve judgement on the whole idea until we can see whether it works. The first signs will be when they issue their report at the end of the year,” he said.

“The questions were answered really very well. Afterwards. people were keen to talk to them over a cup of tea.”