CANDIDATES in the race for the role of Gwent’s Police and Crime Commissioner battled it out at a hustings meeting yesterday.

Two independents and former policemen Chris Wright and Ian Johnston took on Labour’s Hamish Sandison and Nick Webb of the Tories in a bid to win public support ahead of elections on November 15.

They are in the running to become one of four PCCs in Wales, along with 37 in England, who will take over the role of the police authority, set the police force budget and ensure the policing needs of the community are met as effectively as possible.

Around 50 people turned out at the Parkway Hotel, Cwmbran, to hear the men’s pledges at the evening organised by Victim Support.

Mr Webb said the Argus often shows crime isn’t committed by a person for the first time and that is something he would tackle if elected next month.

Mr Sandison promised a most comprehensive survey for users of the police service, asking for their thoughts.

Mr Wright said there should be a focus on reducing domestic violence, with victims receiving assistance as soon as possible, and more officers are needed on the beat.

Mr Johnston criticised the way consultation was carried out before the decision to close 17 front desks across Gwent.

He said morale in the local police force was “at an all-time low” and the solution was to talk to people in the face of cuts it has to make.

But Mr Webb said there was a danger of “consultation fatigue” and it needed to be effective.

The audience had a chance to question the candidates before they summed up.

Mr Sandison, like Mr Johnston in the Argus last month, urged voters to turn out and have their say on how they want their local police force to be run.

Once elected, PCCs are due to influence key decisions in their respective areas, from CCTV to tackling drug dealing.