The Chairman of West Midlands Police Authority has announced he is going to quit his post to join the race to be elected police and crime commissioner as an independent candidate.
Bishop Derek Webley said he would be revealing his specific policies in the coming weeks but the role would include holding the chief constable to account, setting the police budget and objectives for West Midlands Police.
As an independent, the Right Reverend Webley believed he could better answer to the public and not “Westminster politicians.”
He will remain in his job as chair and will step down when he makes his formal nomination in three weeks.
The Rt Rev Webley, who became the first African Caribbean chair of any Police Authority in the UK, said: “I believe that those that have the responsibilities for setting priorities for our policing and holding our chief constables to account as the police and crime commissioner will, should also act without fear or favour.
“To this end, I believe that the role must be filled by someone independent of party politics. I believe this is also the view of many people in the West Midlands and across the country. People do not want to see policing politicised.
“All the residents of every neighbourhood expects and requires effective policing. They expect the police to be independent and fair and I think they expect the same of those responsible for the police.
“The public wants and expects the police to respond to the needs of everyone and not to be guided by arbitrary preferences, point scoring or special interests.
“The public also wants a police and crime commissioner who is independent and focused on crime and disorder.
“The West Midlands is too big, too diverse and too complex to make policing a political football.”
Mr Webley, district bishop for the New Testament Church of God in Handsworth, went on: “A police and crime commissioner should answer to the public not Westminster politicians or the shadow cabinet. Decision-making needs to be open with honest debate and not hidden away in political groups with decisions made before the public gets a look-in.”
There are fears that only a fifth of the population could turn out for the elections which take place on November 15 and said to cost £100 million to stage, according to the Electoral Reform Society.
Mr Webley hoped government plans to leaflet every household in the run up could increase turnout.
He said: “We are in danger of coasting into this election on autopilot, without proper debate and without people having the chance to consider the key issues facing policing in the West Midlands.”
There are currently 43 Police Authorities in the UK.
Mr Webley paid tribute to the two murdered policewomen in Manchester before he made his announcement yesterday but dismissed calls that all police should carry arms.
He said: “I would like to offer my condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the two Greater Manchester police officers who lost their lives.
“This tragedy reminds us of the courage police officers show everyday. We all rely on the police to protect us and keep us safe.
“This tragedy reminds us of the seriousness of the policing and gravity of the challenges the police face.”
He went on: “The Police Authority’s position is that it would be preferable that the police do not arm. We have an effective armed unit.
“In a poll, 82 per cent of officers said they do not want to arm.”