THE chairman of Cheshire Police Authority has voiced concern about the lack of public knowledge surrounding important changes to the governance of policing.

Margaret Ollerenshaw made her comments just four months before residents are asked to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner to represent their area.

The Crime Commissioner will replace the Cheshire Police Authority.

They will earn a £75,000 salary and have the power to sack the chief constable, who will remain responsible for operational decisions.

However, a 78 per cent of 200 people surveyed at this year’s Cheshire Show said they had not heard of Police and Crime Commissioners - or had any knowledge of what their role would be.

Most people who knew about the change added that they were unaware about when it was taking place, but 75 per cent of respondents said they would probably turn out to vote.

Ms Ollerenshaw said: “The authority has been working successfully to ensure that the transition will be as smooth as possible, but people need to understand what this major change will mean and to decide who is the most suitable candidate to fill this very important role.”

She added: “The change in November means that a Police and Crime Commissioner will take over the authority’s roles of holding the Chief Constable to account, securing the effectiveness and efficiency of the constabulary, setting the policing budget and the council tax precept to pay for policing, setting the policing objectives and monitoring performance.

“The commissioner will also have duties that are not covered by the Police Authority, including the direct funding of community safety and crime reduction activity.”

The survey also revealed the top priority for a commissioner should be to increase the visible presence of police officers as well as targeting road safety and increased engagement between police and communities.

Residents will be able to elect their Crime Commissioner in a ballot on November 15.

So far, only Labour and the Conservatives have announced their candidates as John Stockton and John Dwyer respectively.