The Devon and Cornwall Police & Crime Commissioner Candidates' Question Time
  • Sherwell Centre, Plymouth University (arrival from 17:30)

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Plymouth Law School are hosting a Question Time Event on Monday 25 April 2016, at which candidates running for the role of the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner will present and answer questions from the audience.

This event has been organised ahead of the Police and Crime Commissioner Election, which will take place on 5 May 2016. The event is open to University staff, students and members of the public, local agencies and the Police.

Biographies of the candidates follow below.


  • 17:30 - Arrival
  • 18:00 - Welcome and formal opening 
  • 18:05 - Candidate presentations
  • 18:35 - Questions from the public 
  • 19:20 - Close
  • 19:25 - Tea/Coffee and networking

Advance registration is essential for this event - please book your place via the link above. You will also be able to submit questions for the event during the registration process.

Contact or 01752 586005 for any queries about this event.

The role of Police and Crime Commissioners

PCCs were introduced by the coalition government, with the first 41 elected across England and Wales on 15 November 2012. When they took office, they became responsible for a combined police force area budget of £8 billion.

Their stated role is to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service within their force area, holding Chief Constables and the force to account, and making the police answerable to the communities they serve.

The PCCs are also responsible for ensuring community needs are met as effectively as possible, working in partnership with agencies at local and national level to ensure there is a unified approach to preventing and reducing crime.

News release: Police and Crime Commissioner candidates to attend public debate at Plymouth University (13 April 2016)

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Today's events

Gareth Derrick (Labour)

Commodore Gareth Derrick is a former naval officer whose appointment in command of the Royal Naval and Royal Marines Reserves completed in 2013. He has deployed on operational tours in submarines and on land in both the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars. 

Graduating with a masters degree in International Relations at Cambridge University in 2004, he served as a diplomat in the British Embassy Tokyo from 2007–10, where he worked with UK and Japanese Ministers to secure high-level security co-operation between the two countries.

Determined to bring Labour values to the role of Police Commissioner as in his military career, he emphasises the need for fairness, honesty and teamwork in the strategic leadership of policing. 

His priorities are to continue the fight for proper funding, to restore effective local policing, and to ensure that the Police and his own staff are truly engaged with the people of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

He is married to Alison with whom he has three children and lives with his family in Ivybridge, Devon.

Alison Hernandez (Conservative)

Alison believes the most important aspect of this role is in the title. It is not a Police Commissioner but a Police AND Crime Commissioner. This means tackling crime from all angles and not just from a police perspective is paramount. Also, understanding the needs and challenges of the rural, urban and coastal communities within Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. This will require strategic thinking and the ability to form strong partnerships and alliances. Alison's extensive experience and track record of delivering results through strategic partnerships holds her in good stead.

What Alison will do for you:

  • Work with the government to get the best funding deal for the people of Devon and Cornwall. 
  • Put policing at the heart of communities both on our streets and online. Work with the other emergency services to greater effect.
  • Support those affected by crime: victims, witnesses and the most vulnerable in our community. 
  • Improve crime reporting, especially 101. Waiting up to 45 minutes is unacceptable.
  • Review police station closures so that people don’t feel abandoned.

William Morris (Independent)

William is an Independent Candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. William is from Cornwall and went to school in Devon. He is Secretary General of the Next Century Foundation, a conflict resolution charity working in the Middle East. 

His interest in law stems from his teenage years when he founded the London Law Quarterly, the first of many publishing ventures. 

Following his marriage to Veronica, William worked on the land in Cornwall before moving to South Wales where he started a new career in sheep farming and became a volunteer prison visitor at Swansea Prison and was powerfully affected by the failure of a system that resulted in the criminalisation of many young offenders. He was also elected to West Glamorgan County Council, and served on both the Public Protection Committee and Children’s Committees, and was greatly affected by the inability of the authorities to address the problems of children in care. 

Twenty years ago, William returned to his home in Penzance and developed an interest in fisheries related issues, for a time chairing the West Cornwall Marine Forum. 

William believes that social deprivation is a key cause of crime. He also firmly believes that the position of Police and Crime Commissioner should be non-political. He says “The issues surrounding our individual safety and security and that of our families and businesses should stand above party politics. Therefore, I stand as an independent.”

William’s wife Veronica was a teacher and now works with him at the Next Century Foundation. They have three children, Joseph, Loveday and Samuel.

Jonathan Smith (UKIP)

Jonathan was born in 1965 in Nottingham and in 1969 moved with his family to Bodmin in Cornwall, where he completed his education.

In 1985 he joined the Avon and Somerset Constabulary serving in areas throughout the whole force, during which time he received a Chief Constable’s Commendation for Outstanding Police Service, concluding on the force driving school. 

He transferred to Devon and Cornwall Police in 2004 where he continued to instruct advanced motorcycling and driving skills to serving police officers, followed by various patrol duties. 

He retired after 30 years service in March 2015, as a Police Constable, having performed his duty in uniform at the coal face. 

Jonathan is married to Fiona and has a grown up daughter and son. In May 2015 he was elected as a Councillor on the Mid Devon District Council. 

He lives in Calverleigh, a hamlet on the outskirts of Tiverton. He is the treasurer for the Devon UKIP branch, a volunteer driver for the Exe Valley Market Bus and rings the local church bells. 

Jonathan is still a motorcycle addict having spent the greater part of his life as a Police Motorcyclist.

Bob Spencer (Independent)

Bob was born in Liverpool, one of five siblings, four brothers and a sister. Upon leaving school Bob worked for his father for two years before joining the Merseyside Police Force in 1979 serving as a community officer. He moved to CID in 1983 and worked in the Serious Crime and Murder Squad for many years rising through the ranks to Detective Chief Inspector.

Bob transferred to Devon & Cornwall Constabulary as a Superintendent in October 2000 and in July 2006 was appointed Acting Assistant Chief Constable. 

Since leaving the force in 2009 Bob has broadened his experience advising government and international blue-chip companies on crisis management and leadership. He has been a magistrate for the last five years. 

Bob has worked as Independent Chair of both Devon and Torbay’s Safeguarding Boards, he understands multi partnership working and has worked closely with many victims of crime. He implemented and reviewed complex investigations into child sexual exploitation, vulnerable adult safeguarding, domestic violence and mental health.

Bob lives with his partner in Lympstone and they have a son who is a student at Exeter University.

If elected Bob will engage with all communities to ensure policing meets their needs.

Richard Younger-Ross (Liberal Democrat)

Richard works for the Groundwork Trust as a Community Enabler advising community groups on access to grants.

He was elected as a Devon County Councillor in 2013 and served as the Member of Parliament for Teignbridge from 2001 to 2010. As an MP he sat on two Select Committees, Foreign Affairs and Defence as well as the European Scrutiny Committee.

Before becoming an MP he worked for 25 years in various architectural practices including a seven month stint in Iraq in 1982.

In the late 70s he helped his family run a small merchandising store in Shepperton Film Studios. 

For sport he used to row, but now enjoys cooking and DIY.

In 1982 he co-wrote a motion for the Liberal Party Conference on Community policing, based on the work of the former Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall, John Alderson. The Liberal Party were the first Party to adopt such a policy which is now the base for police policy for all UK political parties.

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