Police and Crime Commissioner candidates: Simone Butterworth (Liberal Democrat)
In the second of a series of features profiling Humberside’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidates, Jenna Thompson chats to Liberal Democrat Simone Butterworth
THERE are few things about police and crime commissioners that Simone Butterworth agrees with.
Politicians taking charge of policing is "wrong", she says, and the £75,000 salary on offer is "too high".
But, believing she can offer a progressive alternative to the other candidates, it is still a job she wants.
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"There shouldn't be any political interference in what the police are doing – this role should be politically free," she says.
"To have a local politician interfering is wholly wrong.
"One of the fundamental planks of a liberal democracy is you don't concentrate power and authority into the hands of one individual, it has to be shared. The police and crime commissioner will have an immense amount of power, but I think I have the experience and skills to do it and I will share it out."
Although she says the role should be free of political interference, she is standing for the Liberal Democrat party. So will she be politically neutral if she is elected next month?
"I am independently minded and extremely straightforward and I do have that level of independence," she says.
"It just so happens I don't disagree with the Liberal Democrats' long-held policies and principles, such as individual freedoms and rights of expression."
Sitting in the lounge of fellow Hull city councillor Claire Thomas' home, she answers questions carefully, referring to a sheet of paper which lists her pledges and priorities.
One of the stand-out promises she has made is to give away a third of the £75,000 salary to charities supporting victims of crime.
"That salary is totally out of keeping with what the person next-door would think was a reasonable wage, so I will not take it," she says.
"That's not because I will only be turning in five mornings a week, I fully expect to work 60 hours a week, at least."
Ms Butterworth says she will use the money to set up a fund, which will be distributed to charities supporting victims across the region.
"Although there are charities out there working to the best of their ability, there is becoming even less to go around, and this will help."
She has just rushed from the Guildhall, in Hull, where she has been chairing a meeting of the city council's value for money committee.
As a former leader of the authority, and a councillor of 16 years, she believes her experience of handling council budgets will enable her to get a grip of the £22.9 million the police force needs to save.
"At a time when there is very little money to go around, I suspect every candidate is going to make the claim they will resist cutting frontline policing, but there is a need to save," she says.
"While my experience on the council says the easiest way of doing that is cutting jobs, I think the communities I would be representing are already angry and can sense the police is stretched.
"We have all got to protect frontline policing. That is what the public expect every candidate to do.
"I certainly wouldn't make any sweeping cuts. What I am particularly interested in is reducing reoffending.
"Whatever approach you take to reducing a budget needs to be done as gradually as possible and you need to know what the impact of any cuts would be and the risks they present."
She says her top priority would be to improve communication between the police and the public, particularly regarding decisions officers make.
"People do expect the police to keep in touch with them," she says.
"They also understand the pressures on the police and the need for them to prioritise.
"If they receive an explanation about why the police have done something, they will accept that.
"It is when they hear nothing that the problems come and the fear of crime increases.
"The lines of communication are already open, but in my opinion they are not wide enough. Communication needs to be improved and increased."
Before becoming a councillor, she worked in social care and has volunteered for Dove House Hospice, Hull, Aids Action and has cared for the elderly.
She says it is the desire to represent people from all backgrounds that drives her to want the commissioner job.
"I have demonstrated I can build a good relationship with communities. I can represent them fairly and have experience of doing so.
"I put myself forward because I think people have faith in my ability to do it and so do I."
The profiles continue in tomorrow's Telegraph.