Multimillionaire property tycoon stands for election as Kent Police Commissioner
ONE might hope that a man who harbours aspirations of setting Kent Police its crime-fighting objectives would know the difference between robbery and burglary.
But not Fergus Wilson.
"Burglary is a robbery," he says. "Taking something without permission. Burglary involves house breaking. Robbery does not include domestic house breaking."
For the record, burglary involves unlawfully entering a building with the intention of committing crime. Robbery is theft with the threat of violence.
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Mr Wilson takes the clarification in his stride.
Together with wife Judith, the couple have amassed a fortune of roughly £180 million and a buy-to-let property portfolio of 900 flats and houses, including 300 in Ashford.
It's fair to say the 62-year-old Maidstone man is not short of self-belief.
"I think I can make a difference," he says. "I'm a great supporter of the police."
I ask what his key priorities as Commissioner would be, and top of his list is tackling Operation Stack and introducing some form of road tax for foreign lorries.
A few days before we met for coffee the Government announced it was to look at precisely that.
He would like to put more resources into solving white collar crime, employing civilian experts to target financial criminals.
And while he would not be able to promise more bobbies on the beat – Kent Police is in the process of cutting 500 frontline officers – he would like to reinvigorate the Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
But what stands out like a sore thumb is Mr Wilson's pledge to hold a referendum on Boris Island.
"I'm there if elected to represent the people of Kent. It's a question of what the people of Kent want. I would have a referendum over Boris Island," he said.
I point out this is hardly a policing matter.
"I see the role as far more than that," he counters. "Basically my role as commissioner is more to do with the flavour of things.
"The policies I make are the policies I make from the soundings of the people of Kent, so we will set up a forum where anybody can write in with their concerns."
I suggest he may be straying into the political arena and ask him specifically what he see as Kent's key crime problems.
"At the moment people trafficking is particularly rife in the county," he says.
Pressed over how he would tackle knife crime, he deflects the question by saying it would be a matter for the Chief Constable.
But it leads him to his grand plan for encouraging members of the public to turn police informant.
"We could introduce a reward system that could be funded by local businesses," he says.
So how much would he need? How would he ring-fence the cash to stop the force from funding other projects with it? And how would he decide who to pay and how much to give them?
"The commonsense answer would be obviously as much as possible," he replies.
"I think there are various mechanisms to make sure it's ring-fenced.
"That's an interesting point. I would say there's got to be a sliding scale."
Like I said, rather light on detail.