The three main candidates for the Thames Valley police and crime commissioner election on May 2, 2024, have been announced.

They are the current commissioner Matthew Barber (Conservative), Tim Starkey (Labour) and Tim Bearder (Liberal Democrats).

In less than six weeks, voters in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire will head to the polls to elect a new commissioner, with the result to be announced on May 4.

The commissioner is responsible for setting police budgets and priorities and appoint the force’s chief constable.

They are supposed to be a ‘bridge’ between the public and the police, holding forces to account and ensuring they run effectively and efficiently.

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The current commissioner Mr Barber, whose salary is £88,600, was elected in 2021 with a majority of nearly 80,000.

Previously a deputy PCC, the incumbent Tory candidate was brought up in Oxfordshire, where he still lives, and where he served as a councillor for nearly nineteen years.

His current priorities include strong local policing, fighting serious and organised crime, improving the criminal justice system, fighting fraud and cybercrime, and tackling illegal encampments.

Labour has said its candidate Mr Starkey, a prosecution and defence barrister, is the only credible opposition to Mr Barber.

With over 20 years working in the criminal justice system, his experience includes serving in the rape and serious sexual offences team at the Crown Prosecution Service.

Labour said: “At the heart of his campaign is a mission to reverse the rise in knife crime and the epidemic of shoplifting which is blighting town and city centres right across the Thames Valley region, to prioritise dealing with the appalling rise in violence against women and girls (incredibly, not one of Matthew Barber’s top five priorities), and to rebuild public confidence in the police.”

But Mr Starkey has been dismissed by the Lib Dems who say that their candidate Mr Bearder, a councillor and ex-BBC journalist should be elected as the next Thames Valley PCC.

Experienced in managing big budgets, with several cabinet positions on Oxfordshire County Council, the Lib Dem hopeful criticised what he called ‘increased response times and a concerning drop in convictions, particularly for offences such as domestic burglary which are close to an all-time low’.

He said: “The Conservative Party has consistently fallen short on recruitment goals and made cutbacks to community policing, notably in areas like Oxford and Reading.”

Due to the previous 2020 PCC election being postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19, the legislation was changed so that the regular four-year election cycle could continue in 2024.

The candidates nominated for PCC election will be formally published on April 8. The deadline to register to vote is April 16. More information is available here: