THE rights of victims of crime will be the focus of a political activist’s bid to become the county’s first elected police commissioner.
Paul Richards, 44, says he wants to focus on hate crime and victims of domestic violence after becoming the first candidate to declare himself for the post.
Mr Richards, who narrowly missed out on becoming a Labour MP in 1997, aims to become the first elected commissioner for Sussex during a county ballot on November 15.
Every registered voter will have a chance to vote for a candidate which is also likely to include a Conservative party nomination.
The commissioner will be able to hire and fire the chief constable and will be responsible for the force’s budget.
Mr Richards, a father-of-two from Eastbourne, worked as a special adviser to the Labour Government for four years. He plans to visit Hastings and St Leonards in the coming weeks to meet residents and listen to their policing needs.
Mr Richards, who was also Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lewes in 2001, wants to ensure budget cuts do not land on the most vulnerable. He aims to campaign against hate crimes against minorities in the community and hidden crimes such as domestic violence.
He has pledged that if he wins one-third of his salary will be donated to police and crime victims charities – and is challenging other candidates to do the same. The role attracts a salary of up to £100,000.
Mr Richards said: “If you’re a victim of crime it is twofold. Firstly you may have had something stolen or been a victim of violence. Then you are a victim of the process afterwards. I want to change all that and give victims a bigger say.
“This is a big role and it needs a big candidate to fill it.
“It is vital that people in Sussex elect someone on the side of the victim of crime and someone who can work with the police without forgetting who they represent. I will be meeting with people and groups in Hastings and St Leonards to tell them about my campaign for victims’ rights, and to ask them how to improve policing in the county.”