ALL four candidates for Cleveland's Police and Crime Commissioner tonight (Monday, November 11) pledged to hold Cleveland Police accountable.
The area's final hustings event, organised by the Community Voice Forum, took place in front of a packed crowd at Marlborough House, a mosque and community centre in Stockton.
Operation Sacristy, the ongoing criminal investigation into a number of people with current or past associations with Cleveland Police Authority, attracted a number of questions, with several members of the public commenting that the eventual commissioner must be beyond reproach.
Independent candidate Sultan Alam, Conservative candidate Ken Lupton, Labour candidate Barry Coppinger and the Green Party’s Joe Michna all pledged to hold the police service accountable.
Former police authority member Barry Coppinger insisted he had no involvement with any corruption under investigation by Operation Sacristy.
Other issues raised tackled concerns relevent to the area's Asian population, including forced marriage and honour based violence.
All the candidates said they would work with the local community to tackle the issue and offer support to victims.
Sultan Alam recalled an incident in which he was called to hospital to speak to a victim who had doused herself with petrol and set herself alight.
He said: “The dignity that woman showed humbled me and I have very strong views about violence against women. There is no space for forced marriage in a dignified society.”
Joe Michna said he agreed with David Cameron’s stance on the issue, saying forced marriage was “abhorrent” while Ken Lupton pledged more support for victims and Barry Coppinger said it was an issue that needed to be understood and tackled if we are to move forward as a society.
Other topics discussed included increasing privatisation and its impact on the charity sector, anti-social behaviour and the impact on cuts to services.