Three candidates will contest next month’s Durham Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election. 

Labour's Joy Allen, Liberal Democrat Nigel Boddy and the Conservatives' Robert Potts are vying for the top job

The Durham post, first established in 2012, has been held by Labour’s Joy Allen since 2021, when she won the May election following the death of former PCC Ron Hogg. 

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has interviewed all three candidates ahead of the election on Thursday, May 2. 

We hear from the Liberal Democrat candidate Nigel Boddy. 

Former councillor, legal advisor and now defence lawyer, Nigel Boddy believes he has the answer to improve policing in County Durham and Darlington. 

Why should people care about the PCC election?

“We’re at the stage now where people are not reporting crime because they feel there won’t be any response. 

“As a party, we want to abolish the role and redirect the resources to frontline policing. There are a number of areas where I would really drill down on costs and make big savings for the taxpayer, so we can redeploy those resources as well.”

How can you restore public trust in the police? 

“People are not bothering to report incidents, and the responses people are getting are not good enough. We have to look at the customer experience of ringing into the police and understand how to provide a better service. We have to do more.”

The Liberal Democrat is critical of PCC Joy Allen’s decision-making and even the role itself, so much so that he would abolish it in the future if elected. “The role is disconnected from operational policing, all you can do is advise,” he warned. 

Like Conservative candidate Robert Potts, Mr Boddy is also puzzled by the decision to build a new centralised custody headquarters in Spennymoor and close custody suites in Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Durham City and Peterlee. 

Read more: Robert Potts - Conservative candidate hoping to cause upset in Durham PCC election

“It’s a really strange choice,” he said. “It seems to be there for the convenience of Geo Amey [which employs prison custody officers] and nobody else.”

Mr Boddy admitted he has repeatedly questioned the decision to build the new site. He added: “I don’t understand why we’re shipping prisoners from Spennymoor down to Newton Aycliffe, where most of the custody cases are held. Wouldn’t it have been better to build it on the derelict car park site next door?”

Formerly a councillor for the North Road ward in Darlington, he says his first-hand experience of policing and the legal system inspired him to stand as a candidate. “I used to be a legal adviser to magistrates, so I know how the courts system works, and am now a defence lawyer,” he explained. “I see the way things are going downhill with the police: how they’re not resourced properly; not getting proper training; how they don’t get any backup.”

One of his first priorities, if elected, would be to improve police officer training. 

“One of the most astonishing statistics about officers in Durham is how many of them have proper experience,” he said. “Eighty per cent of them have been there less than five years. That’s astonishing.”

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Mr Boddy believes standards and attitudes among officers must improve and there are also plans to get more officers onto the streets “in the role of prevention rather than detection”.  

He explained: “I have personal experience of going to police stations and seeing officers wandering around with pieces of paper. The role is becoming more IT backroom and less about crime prevention. 

“Preventing crime in the first place is about being visible. If you have a police car on a bus roundabout on the A167 that’s going to make everyone drive more carefully. The number of speeding incidents will go down dramatically.”