East Sefton residents had the chance to quiz Labour's candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner at a special event in Aintree Village last week.
Labour's Jane Kennedy joined Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson and Sefton Council's Labour leader Cllr Peter Dowd at a public meeting at Aintree Village's Hope Centre.
Residents quizzed the Labour candidate on issues of policing in East Sefton and throughout Merseyside.
Jane, who was Britain’s first woman Security Minister responsible for policing in Northern Ireland and was the first woman ever to hold Ministerial office in the Lord Chancellor’s department with responsibility for magistrates and the judiciary, told the meeting that she had the right skills and experience to take on the new PCC role.
She explained what role the Police and Crime Commissioner will have.
Jane said: "This is a huge role. It gives one person control of the budget of the entire police force.
"The council precept that we all pay raises about 20% of Merseyside Police's funding. Eighty per cent comes from the government. So when the government makes a cut of 20% in the government grant to police forces Merseyside faces a bigger cut than, for example Surrey where the grant is only 50% of the income of the police. These Tory-Lib Dem Government cuts mean we will have 600 fewer police officers here on Merseyside.
"This election isn't to vote in a sheriff. We will still have a Chief Constable who will be operationally independent. But the Commissioner will control the budget and the precept and hold the police and the Chief Constable to account.
"The Commissioner will represent the communities of Merseyside to the police force, so that communities are at the heart of the decision making process about police services."
Jane said her plans for the role include the establishment of a new pan-Merseyside partnership to ensure communities are at the heart of decision making.
Jane said: "Our communities here in Merseyside are currently under attack because of the slash and burn policies of this Tory-Lib Dem Government.
"Not only has the police's budget been slashed, but so has Sefton Council's budget which is having to cope with £107.5m cuts.
"That is why this is such a vitally important position. The Commissioner will not only control the policing budget of £335m, but will also devise the policing strategy for the whole of Merseyside.
“We need someone in that job who has the experience and skills to do it well, getting the best for the people of Sefton and Merseyside.
“But as the government’s cuts to policing start to really bite, over 600 police officers have been axed from our force. This can’t continue without leaving us in a very dangerous position.
“Not only do we need to fight to secure vital funding for our police, but I also intend to establish a partnership with every single community in Sefton and Merseyside. There is a fear in places like Sefton that whoever is elected on November 15, their priority will be to throw policing at the city centre.
“That cannot be the way it works and it is not something I will do. Police need to be where they are needed and that includes right at the heart of our communities.
"That's why I intend to establish a new partnership which will include community representatives to ensure that the communities' priorities are the police's priorities.
"I regularly knock on doors here in Aintree, in Maghull, Melling, Lydiate and throughout Sefton. I know the concerns that people have.
"It is the only way to get a real understanding about what the priorities are and what matters to people here.
"That's why we organised this meeting in Aintree. I would like to thank all those who came along."
Bill Esterson urged everyone in East Sefton to vote.
Bill said: "We need someone in the Police and Crime Commissioner role who knows what the main issues are here in Sefton and who has the experience to be able to manage the police budget and effectively hold the Chief Constable to account. Jane Kennedy has the experience and the skills we need.
"That's why I hope people vote for Jane Kennedy on Thursday, November 15."