Birmingham's former head of children’s social services is bidding to become the West Midlands’ first elected police chief after winning a public vote.
Former city councillor Matt Bennett believes that being an outsider, with no previous links to police, helped secure him the Conservative candidacy for the £100,000-a-year job running West Midlands Police.
He beat retired police officer and Solihull councillor Joe Tildesley at a series of four primary elections held across the region over the last week. The Conservatives have refused to reveal how many votes were cast.
Voters in the West Midlands go to the polls on November 15 to elect the first ever Police and Crime Commissioner, who will have the power to set policing policy and priorities and hire and fire the chief constable.
As Conservative candidate Mr Bennett will be the main rival to Labour candidate and Wolverhampton councillor Bob Jones.
Mr Bennett, aged 36, lost his Stockland Green seat on Birmingham City Council in May, but before that had been a member of the council’s cabinet with specific responsibility for implementing and overseeing improvements to the poorly rated children’s social care department.
He said he had received strong support across the four primary elections, held in Erdington, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton, and believes it is because he has no strong links to the police.
“I would be there to challenge the police on behalf of the public. I have a good track record of getting things done,” he said.
He also launched his campaign with a swipe at Labour.
“They are planning to run this election as a referendum on police cuts, but this is about the person the public wants to hold the police to account,” he added.
“Bob Jones has been on the police authority for a long time and takes some responsibility for a great deal of what is happening.”
Mr Bennett has already proved he is able to challenge police when he clashed with Chief Constable Chris Sims over poor detection rates during a council meeting last year.
The Liberal Democrats have yet to confirm a candidate. Several independents will also be standing.