A GOVERNMENT minister has visited Worcester to spell out a passionate defence of police and crime commissioners.

Home Office minister Karen Bradley, who deals with the prevention of abuse, exploitation and crime, joined Worcester's Conservative Association to canvass voters outside the Guildhall.

During her visit Mrs Bradley, an MP for Staffordshire Moorlands, laid out why PCCs are so important.

This coming Thursday voters across Britain will get the chance to elect 41 new commissioners to oversee chief constables.

Next week's vote is the first since November 2012, when previous commissioner Bill Longmore was elected to the West Mercia role from a dismal 14 per cent turnout.

Mrs Bradley said: "To put it bluntly police know how to catch robbers, they know how to deal with drunks in the pub.

"But domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation, modern day slavery, all of these are different crimes that require different approaches and that's why PCCs are so important.

"Something like 20 to 40 per cent of people the police deal with have mental health issues, we are talking about people who are ill and need help.

"The police shouldn't be dealing with that - they wouldn't be expected to help you if you had a broken leg, it'd be A&E.

"Police and crime commissioners can provide that strategy, they are a fresh pair of eyes to hold the chief constable to account."

She also said many of the growing crimes around the UK are giving police a completely new challenge.

"We've all seen how cyber crime has gone up but in my role as a minister I look at domestic abuse, forced marriage, slavery," she said.

"Some of them are up a lot but in some cases a rise in reporting is good thing, it means more people are coming forward.

"I'd like to see the prevalence of the crimes going down but seeing a rise in reporting is not a bad thing."

She was in Worcester to support Councillor John Campion, who is trying to land the £75,000-a-year West Mercia role for the Tories.

The five other contenders include UKIP's Peter Jewell, Labour's Dan Walton, Lib Dem Margaret Rowley, independent Barrie Sheldon and Green John Raine.

The new PCC for the West Mercia Police force region will be announced next Friday, May 6 in Shrewsbury.