A North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner candidate has been accused of offering money he doesn’t have after pledging to give police officers a £500 Covid bonus if he wins.
Denbighshire county councillor Mark Young, who is standing as an independent candidate to replace outgoing Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, first made the pledge on Wednesday.
He originally said he intended to give all police officers a £735 bonus for all the work they had done during the pandemic, meaning most officers would receive £500 net after deductions.
However his opponents doubted he could make such a pledge as budgets for 2021-22 had been set and any extra cash would have to be sourced from the Home Office.
He updated his pledge on Thursday this week to say he would “lobby the Home Secretary to pay a one off £500 Covid bonus to all Police officers”, claiming it would cost less than £1m.
Mr Young said: “Being a police officer can be a dangerous profession even in normal times but the risks have been raised to another level as a result of the virus and the immense challenges it has posed in terms of policing.
“The behaviour of some people has been despicable because police officers have been coughed and spat at, causing very real anxiety and fears about catching Covid-19.
“If I am elected on May 6, I will ask the chief constable to support me in making the case to the Home Secretary as to why our heroic officers should be recognised in the same way as health staff and work with the chief of police on delivering a Covid bonus of £500.”
His Conservative rival Pat Astbury, said: “I was surprised to see this because I want to know how he is going to achieve it. It’s not in the PCC’s gift to make this offer.”
Labour’s PCC candidate Andy Dunbobbin said all police staff deserved to be recognised for the “vital part they have played during the pandemic”.
He added: “Some would question where the money for the thank you bonus is coming from, especially given the precept and budget has not long been set.
“It is not only our frontline officers who should rightly have this recognition, but also our police staff.
“I would strongly advocate a ‘thank you’ bonus in recognition of the efforts made by all police employees due to the pandemic.
“I believe the most sensible course of action would be to consult with the chief constable and section 151 officer before declaring such public announcements which may not be achievable.”
Ann Griffith, Plaid Cymru’s PCC candidate declined to comment on Cllr Young’s “pledge” and Liberal Democrat candidate Lisa Wilkins has also been contacted for comment.