ALL four declared candidates for the role of Wiltshire's Police and Crime Commissioner say they see fighting off the County Lines drug dealers and scaring hardened criminals away from the county’s borders as one of their top priorities

The role was created to replace police authorities, and those elected are meant to give communities a voice in local policing to reflect what they want.

The current PCC is Angus Macpherson.

Conservative Jonathon Seed is standing in the Wiltshire and Swindon PCC elections on May 6 2021.

Cllr Seed, who represents Summerham and Seend on Wiltshire Council, has also promised 100 extra police officers for the region, in a bid to increase visibility.

“Police officers used to be part of the community,” he said. “That’s a sense of feeling I am determined to bring back. Increasing the visibility of police officers on our streets is what people want.“We want people to feel confident and secure speaking to their local police officer about crimes.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Jonathon SeedJonathon Seed

"Before Covid, things like town coffee mornings or other informal settings can be when police receive some really worthwhile intelligence. What might seem like a small issue can be a piece in the puzzle of a larger investigation.

"The police force in Wiltshire has been underfunded for too long now - so additional officers will be one step to change that.”

He sees beating burglaries, followed by County Lines drug activity, as a top priority if elected.

County Lines is where illegal drugs are transported from one area to another, often across police and local authority boundaries (although not exclusively), usually by vulnerable people who are coerced into it by gangs.

The ‘County Line’ is the mobile phone line used to take the orders of drugs.

If elected, Cllr Seed hopes to “divert” people from a life of crime with greater emphasis on intervention and rehabilitation. He said: “Operation Fortitude has been very successful in dealing with County Lines and drug dealing but we need to go a step further, and make sure every officer, not just specialists, is aware of this kind of behaviour and spots the issues.

“I want Wiltshire to be a place hardened criminals don’t want to target. They’ll get to the county border and turn back, as they’ll know we’re too hot for them.”

Community projects, such as Melksham’s popular skatepark, are a key way of ensuring young people don’t stray towards crime, explained the councillor.

LibDem Liz Webster, also in the running for the role, agrees there is a need for more police officers in Wiltshire, and targeting the impact of County Lines activity on the region.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Liz WebsterLiz Webster

She said: “We’re restrained to the budget which is being set for next year. I think that visible policing is really important and it gives people a real feeling of safety and security.

“I think having more police is always welcome but obviously we don’t know what kind of financial situation we are going to be in, in two years time.”

On County Lines, she added: “I think instead of being reactive, I think there’s a lot more that can be done to be preventative and that’s to do with online activity.

“It needs to be more intelligence led.

"I see and I know from my own experience with my own kids, that a lot of drug pushing starts in schools.

“I’m really keen to ensure our police force interacts with schools regularly, I know they do already but I think it’s good to get that relationship working well.”

Mrs Webster said she is determined to get across what the PCC role is. 

“I think instead of seeing stats, people have the window of opportunity to influence how we police.” 

Mike Rees, a former detective inspector with the dedicated crime unit at Wiltshire Police, is running for the role as an Independent.

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He says 100 new officers would be a good start but will not make a massive difference to the force.

“Personally I think we need to be looking at recruiting as many as possible,” he said.

“The question for me is; why are we so lowly and what has been done to address that?”

“I know it’s going to be really difficult as a result of the pandemic but money can be found from areas and diverted into the frontline.”

In terms of County Lines Mr Rees, who headed the gangs unit before he retired in 2014, said Wiltshire Police is already very effective, adding: “It’s the violence that they’re bringing into towns which is the big issue.

“We can’t allow that to spread into the county because once they get a grip you’re in trouble.

“There’s always going to be someone to step up and replace the dealers but we were always very successful in keeping a lid on it.

“There’s just got to be very strong, positive enforcement.”

As a former DI Mr Rees says he is better placed than politicians to understand the needs of officers.

Junab Ali, of South Swindon Labour, is also on the campaign trail. He said: “I will increase the focus on tackling County Lines criminal drugs networks, which ruthlessly target and exploit children and vulnerable adults.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Junab AliJunab Ali

"I acknowledge the progress made in tackling County Lines gangs operating in Wiltshire and in the establishment of National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC)."

He said more could be done, including improving intelligence gathering and sharing processes, imposing greater sanctions and building collaboration with other agencies involved in frontline child protection, such as social services and schools.

He added: “I also recognise that greater investment in front-line child protection through social services plays a critical role.

“Greater use of existing sanctions to disrupt county lines networks, such as telecommunications restriction orders and serious crime prevention orders.”

He has promised to recruit additional police officers and reinstate neighbourhood policing, as well as tackle the issue of farm thefts.

The next Police and Crime Commissioner election takes place on 6 May 2021.

Wiltshire Council is working with Swindon Borough Council to run the PCC election for the Wiltshire Police Authority area.  Prospective candidates can email their details to 

To find out more, click here