The Liberal Democrats have selected local campaigner and armed forces veteran James Barker as their candidate for the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner by-election to be held on 25th November.
This election is being due to the resignation of Conservative Philip Allott in the wake of his comments following the sentencing of Sarah Everard’s murderer and the subsequent lost vote of no confidence proposed by Liberal Democrat councillors on the North Yorkshire Police Panel.
James is a City of York Councillor, representing the Rural West York ward since his election in 2019, when he overturned a huge Conservative majority to win his seat from the former York Conservative party leader.
James’ background is in the armed forces, having joined the RAF as an Officer Cadet in 1996, graduating in 1997. 24 years of military service has seen him deploy to Iraq three times and he has also been deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan as well as a number of other countries on exercises and training tasks. James continues his military service as a reservist with 7644(PR) Squadron based at RAF Halton.
James lives in York with his wife Mandy and two adopted children. Outside of work James is a Scout leader and a qualified rugby coach.
Commenting on his selection as the Lib Dem PFCC candidate for North Yorkshire, James said:
“Following Philip Allott’s resignation there is work to do to rebuild the trust lost with victim’s groups, women’s groups and the public at large. If elected, my priority on Day One would be starting the long process of making sure everyone can have faith that the PFCC listens to and supports victims of crime.
“I try to make a difference in whatever I do and my aim is to build a resilient, professional and diverse Police and Fire service representing and working for the people of York and North Yorkshire. I want to bring openness and transparency to its operations and make the case for adequate funding to be devolved to these services to tackle local issues.
“I have identified a number of key priorities across York and North Yorkshire and want to hear more about what residents view as the key issues and required improvements for local Police and Fire services.”
- Restoring trust
James is committed to restoring trust in the post of PFCC that has been lost with victims’ groups, women’s groups and the public at large. The PFCC must listen to and support victims of crime.
- Responsive Policing
As a councillor, James encourages residents to report any concerns about criminal activity using the non-emergency 101 number. But when people do call, they are often left hanging on the phone and just give up. Improving this vital service will be a top priority for James.
- Visible Policing
James wants to see increased Police visibility in both city and rural communities in England’s largest county. Key to this will be strengthening partnership working between the Police and local communities, who are often best placed to identify the measures needed to ensure that residents feel safe.
- Tackling the causes of crime
James is committed to developing an approach through which the Police work more closely with local education, social care, mental health, drug and alcohol and other services to ensure that people have the help and support they need to build lives free from crime.
- ‘Team Blue Light’
Bringing together the Police and Fire Services has created an opportunity for more collaborative working, with a focus on service delivery and getting best value for money. James wants to see a reversal of years of under-investment in Police and Fire Services which have held them back. James wants to build a flexible and resilient service that is able to adapt to ever changing circumstances.