Labour’s John Tizard defeats Conservative Festus Akinbusoye to become Police & Crime Commissioner

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Bedfordshire's new Police and Crime Commissioner, John Tizard (Labour), speaking after his win at the count in Luton. Image: Luton Borough Council
Bedfordshire's new Police and Crime Commissioner, John Tizard (Labour), speaking after his win at the count in Luton. Image: Luton Borough Council

Labour candidate John Tizard is the new Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner after defeating the current holder of the post Conservative Festus Akinbusoye by 5,050 votes.

Read: Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner and Riverfield Ward by-election results 2024 LIVE

In what was expected to be a close run outcome, Labour’s triumph was on the cards after the initial results came through from Bedford, where Mr Tizard narrowly shaded the town’s vote by just 174 votes.

Overall, when the other figures for Luton and Central Bedfordshire were added in, Mr Tizard topped the poll with 40,738, while Conservative Mr Akinbusoye was runner-up with 35,688.

Liberal Democrat Jasbir Parmar came third with 15,857 votes and Waheed Akbar, of the Workers’ Party, fourth with 8,396.

Turnout was 19.78 per cent, down from 24.9 per cent in 2021.

The Conservatives have held the position of Bedfordshire’s PCC for eight years.

Four years

Mr Tizard will serve a four-year term in the position, after Mr Akinbusoye’s three-year term of office. The previous election was scheduled for 2020 but postponed for 12 months because of the pandemic.

The result, announced at Inspire: Luton Sports Village, was met with cheers from a jubilant core of Labour supporters, including Luton North MP Sarah Owen and Luton South MP Rachel Hopkins, as well as several borough councillors.

Mr Tizard reacted, telling the local democracy reporting service, “I’m delighted. This is a great result for the Labour Party and a great result for Bedfordshire.

“We can now look forward to a PCC who’s going to work with the community and with local residents to begin to solve some of the big issues we face.”

Serving as Mr Tizard’s deputy will be Labour High Town borough councillor Umme Ali, who intends to continue to serve on the local authority.

The Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) posted on X, formerly Twitter, “Congratulations to Mr Tizard, our new PCC, who has been elected today by the public. Mr Tizard will officially take up the role on Thursday 9th May.”

In a separate statement a few moments ago, the OPCC said they will now begin “working with Mr Tizard to develop a new Police and Crime Plan, which will be consulted on with partners and the public later this year.”

PCC role

The role of the PCC is to hold Bedfordshire Police to account, including setting the police budget and deciding on the county force’s share of the council tax bill.

Labour’s candidate said before that this election is about a safer Bedfordshire, which requires action by central government, and by the PCC and the police.

He claimed his campaign referred to the “failure of 14 years of Conservative government and eight years of Conservative PCCs”.

If elected, he promised to undertake a “proper comprehensive objective review” of some of the key performance statistics.

He plans to be accountable to local authorities in the county while holding the Bedfordshire force’s Chief Constable to account for the performance of the police service and against the police and crime plan.

In 2021, Mr Akinbusoye was elected with 51,700 votes ahead of David Michael for Labour on 42,708, with Mr Parmar third for the Lib Dems on 15,983.

For Mr Akinbusoye, it’s a second defeat at the ballot box in a little over six months. Speaking afterwards, he admitted to being “disappointed”, saying, “It’s been a really good three years.”

Mr Akinbusoye came second to Mid Bedfordshire Labour MP Alistair Strathern last October in a Parliamentary contest for the seat vacated by former Conservative MP Nadine Dorries.

By Euan Duncan, Local Democracy Reporter
Additional reporting by Paul Hutchinson, Bedford Independent