WEST Mercia's police and crime commissioner hopefuls say they want more done to tackle sexual abuse - after facing questions in another election hustings.

The PCC candidates spent two hours addressing an audience at the University of Worcester yesterday evening organised by the West Mercia Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre.

The theme of the debate centred on how to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence, with UKIP candidate Peter Jewell stealing the headlines by saying he'd oversee the creation of more women's shelters in Worcestershire.

Councillor John Campion, the Conservative candidate, called the crimes "absolutely horrendous" and said he'd seek to make sure the "process of getting justice should not be making it worse".

The evening also saw Labour hopeful Dan Walton continue his theme of attacks on the Government, accusing it of fighting crime "on the cheap", while independent Barrie Sheldon appeared to win over the audience, topping a poll of who they'd prefer to see become new PCC with 59 per cent of the votes.

Mr Jewell, who stood for UKIP at last year's General Election in Redditch, said: "The police do a good job, I'll always support them but there have been more problems with sickness, which I think comes down to morale.

"It needs leadership to solve the issue."

He said he'd seek to tackle websites which make sexual abuse more likely and look at getting more shelters up for women "who need to escape".

Mr Sheldon told the audience he'd served "31 years as a cop," adding: "I've been there, I've seen the hurt, the despair, the helplessness of victims of crime."

Councillor Campion said he'd "want to be out there listening" to victims of sexual abuse, telling them he'd already signed a pledge to protect the current investments made to it.

Mr Walton said Labour's message was about fighting to restore the £40 million of cuts in the force's budget since 2010.

"We can't address the issue of a PCC without addressing the funding problems in West Mercia," he said.

"You've got to decide which of the candidates' principles will lead to further cuts and which will say 'enough is enough'.

"We can't carry out this fight on the cheap."

The hustings was staged in conjunction with the Women's Equality Party and chaired by Ruth Jones OBE, from the National Centre for the Study and Prevention of Violence and Abuse.


THE Green Party's PCC candidate is putting tackling speeding drivers and more "restorative justice" at the heart of his campaign.

During the debate Jackie Smethurst, chairman of Malvern Hills Green Party filling in for Councillor John Raine, pointed to his 35 years experience in criminal justice at the University of Birmingham.

Lib Dem candidate Councillor Margaret Rowley told the audience she'd be "a voice of the people", saying she'd seek to "restore trust in the police".

Mr Sheldon, who has been the deputy PCC for the last four years, insisted major strides have been made in tackling domestic violence but said they were "only halfway on a journey".

He also told them he was once talking to a group of 11-year-olds in Evesham and asked them how many had iPads.

"I was amazed at how many hands went up," he said.

"My message is, you can't start the education too young."

Mr Walton said saw 'sexting' as a growing problem among young people.