By Kevin Unitt 23/08 Updated: 23/08 12:22
FEARS have been raised the race to become Warwickshire's first elected police commissioner is descending into a party-political point scoring contest.
Labour and the Conservatives have again clashed this week over reports G4S are recruiting staff to carry out roles normally performed by police officers in Warwickshire.
Labour candidate James Plaskitt raised concerns over the issue last week, but now he has been accused of hypocrisy by local Tories after it was revealed this year's Labour Party Conference was to have its security provided by G4S.
But Warwickshire Liberal Democrats, speaking about the row, revealed concerns at the way party politics seemed to be hijacking the election and said they were now meeting with potential Independent candidates for the role, in a bid to focus attention away from party politics.
So far only Andrew Moss and Ron Ball have declared as independents to challenge Tory candidate Fraser Pithie and Mr Plaskitt at the vote in November.
Coun Jerry Roodhouse, who leads the Lid Dem group on Warwickshire County Council, said: “We have been speaking to potential Independent candidates because we are concerned over the level of ‘ya boo’ politics that has already started and we wanted to establish whether there is an alternative for Warwickshire.
"We believe that we should try to keep party politics out of policing in Warwickshire."
The row over G4S began this week with a press release issued by the office of Mr Pithie - who said he personally did not want to comment on the matter - in which Stratford's Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi accused Mr Plaskitt of playing party politics.
He said: "Mr Plaskitt needs to be honest with the electorate about his and his party's views on the use of G4S and stop playing politics with this issue.
"If he won't be writing to his party leader, Ed Miliband to persuade him to cancel the contract and won't boycott the Labour Party conference if the contract goes ahead then all he'll prove is that he is quite content to say one thing whilst doing another."
But in response to the criticism, Mr Plaskitt told the paper: "The issue is simply about how best to police Warwickshire.
“If the Conservatives want to try to make this about party point scoring that's up to them.
“All I want to achieve is the maximum resource for Warwickshire Police within the available budget.
“My view is straightforward; If there are posts to fill, and they are policing tasks, lets recruit police officers. Then we will retain a fully integrated service with every element working for public protection, not to generate profit."
As we reported last week, G4S are advertising for civilian investigators to work in Leamington, Rugby and Nuneaton, in long-term contracts with 'no specified end date.' Potential duties would include taking evidential statements from victims and witnesses, undertaking sensitive high profile case inquiries and having specialist knowledge on all aspects of crime investigation.
A spokeswoman for Warwickshire Police confirmed they would be employing additional staff to meet operational needs.
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