First police commissioners chosen amid turnout concerns

 

David Cameron says voting numbers were "always going to be low"

Several former police officers have beaten party candidates in the first-ever elections for crime commissioners in England and Wales.

So far, Labour and the Conservatives have roughly split most contests, but independents won 11 of the 41 posts.

Voter turnout was historically low, leading the Electoral Commission to describe it as "a concern for everyone who cares about democracy".

With all ballots counted, turnout was about 14.9%, BBC research showed.

Prime Minister David Cameron said low turnout in a first-time election was expected.

"It takes time to explain a new post," the prime minister said, and he predicted voting numbers would be "much higher next time round".

The Conservatives have won 16, Labour 13 and independents 11, with one other successful candidate.

One of the most high-profile defeats was in Humberside where Labour former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott lost to Tory rival Matthew Grove.

Police and crime commissioners will have powers to hire and fire chief constables and set police strategy and budgets.

Lord Prescott Lord Prescott lost to his Conservative rival in Humberside

The government says PCCs will give local people more control over policing, but opponents have warned the changes will politicise the police - and low turnout shows people don't want them.

In other election developments on Friday:

The record low for a national poll in peacetime is the 23% turnout for the 1999 European elections.

Turnout in the PCC election was 12.9% in Merseyside, 13.3% in Thames Valley, and 13.5% in Greater Manchester. These figures include spoilt ballot papers.

Electoral Commission chairwoman Jenny Watson said: "These were new elections taking place at an unfamiliar time of year, which is why we have made clear at every stage that it would be important to engage effectively with voters.

"The government took a number of decisions about how to run these elections that we did not agree with. But what is important now is that the right lessons are learnt: we will talk to voters, candidates and returning officers to understand what worked and what didn't.

"The commission is going to undertake a thorough review, and we will present our findings to Parliament in early 2013."

Elections expert Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, said it could be the worst turnout ever.

He added the elections "raised questions" about whether the whole exercise was worth it.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said a general apathy towards politics was to blame for the low turnout.

He said: "We are at a mid-term point in this government, there's a lot of difficult news around at the moment."

But Downing Street sources partly blamed the media, saying because the elections had not been held in London they had generated insufficient national news coverage.

"The national media have not covered themselves in glory," a No 10 source said.

Start Quote

The real flaw was something more fundamental - the voters were never persuaded they needed an elected police and crime commissioner”

End Quote

Home Secretary Theresa May said first elections were always difficult. "The police and crime commissioners are visible, they'll be accessible, they've been elected and crucially they will be accountable to people through the ballot box."

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said many people had been cross about a lack of information, including what the job entailed and who the candidates were.

"It's not acceptable to be so careless with democracy, so careless with policing, but also so careless with money for the tax payer too."

Labour's Chuka Umunna called the elections "a total shambles", suggesting the £100m cost would have paid for 3,000 police officers.

Turnout reached 27.48% in the PCC election in Bristol, where voters were also going to the polls to choose the city's first directly-elected mayor, but across the Avon and Somerset police area as a whole it dropped to 19.58%.

Darren Hughes of the Electoral Reform Society said the PCC elections had started as a flagship government policy, but had descended into a "farce".

He said having an election in November was "crazy", but resourcing of the election needed to be addressed as well, so that candidates are able to cover areas larger than a usual constituency.

Residents of Wiltshire tell the BBC's Jon Kay why they did, and didn't, vote

One of successful independents in England, Ann Barnes, a former Kent Police Authority chairwoman, said the "real winners are the people of Kent who did not want their police force to be politicised".

In Dorset, successful candidate Mr Underhill said his "number one" priority was to hire a chief constable "with my vision".

"There's a lot to do in the first 100 days."

The first PCC for Lancashire, Labour's Clive Grunshaw, said it was a "new era for policing", while the North Yorkshire PCC, Conservative Julia Mulligan, said she intended to work hard "without political prejudice."

In Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld said after his election success: "I am a Conservative but I haven't had a gilded life. You grow up quickly commanding a platoon in the jungles of Borneo."

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 632.

    For the first time ever we have not voted in an election.How could we vote for a candidate when we have received no advance information on any of the candidates? It is ridiculous to expect people to vote for candidates about whom nothing is known. Is this a new level of democracy that might raise President Putin's eyebrows?

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 631.

    I keep reading that a lot of posters knew nothing of the elections or the candidates yet they post on HYS so you would expect them to be aware of the politics of their country and the news,
    they obviously own a PC so why did they not search for their local candidates over the net as I did ,it was so simple .
    although I suspect it was down to laziness and not knowing is just a poor excuse

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 630.

    An expensive waste of money. Already, before the elections, some candidates were appointing their unelected deputies at £55K PA. That won't be the end of the gravy train for political placemen. And this in a time of austerity.
    As for not voting / spoiling your ballot, how else can one say "None of the above, I don't want this at all" ?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 629.

    I live in Milton Keynes and did not receive any notification of these elections taking place in my area.

    No polling card. No mention in the local free press (not prominently anyway).

    Electoral commission need to investigate this jobs for the boys pseudo-democracy in action.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 628.

    In Hampshire we had two independents on the ballot - so I voted to stop a party-affiliated pol being elected

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 627.

    As a Christian disenfranchised from the Democratic process, The 3 Candidates hail from parties that support.
    1) Abortion
    2) Infant Circumcision
    3) Gay Marriage (Not CP's do what you want)
    4) Mass Immigration
    5) Halal & Kosher Slaughter
    6) Multi-Culturalism
    -----------
    I wouldn't give two hoots the religion of the candidates my problem is the vast majority know bugger all about policing

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 626.

    As per usual the only ideas the Tories can ever come up with are those they copy from the US. So now the latest Big Idea , is a PCC, ( US equivalent of a Sherrif) to which seemingly no one wants or has the slightest interest in! - Roll on 2015.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 625.

    £100 million, what a waste, they could have given that to the BBC, or some other blood sucking organisation thats pointless, there's lots of them around. Taxpayer taken for a ride yet again

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 624.

    599. wvpTV
    1. Some 75% had no idea what they were voting for

    -------------------------------

    I think you are correct. And that applies to any election. People just vote for the party of their parents/grandparents. Manchester Central springs to mind. Turn out there probably would have been less than 10% if it wasn't for the Liebour Party postal vote.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 623.

    We were going to vote, but on listening/ reading a report from a senior ex Police commissioner (can't remember his name) he said I don't encourage people not to vote but in this instance I would because the county elected are too big for just one person to 'govern' (my words) and other things which made sense to myself and my husband so the postal vote went into the recycling bin

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 622.

    These elections are a total farce. Anyone who claims they are credible and give any sort of mandate is clearly deranged.....step forward Teresa May. They should be scrapped and only re run if there's a chance of at least 50% turnout. The same should apply to any by-elections with similar turnout %s. Politicians don't want to face the truth as to why people have swtiched off - it's down to them!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 621.

    This was not needed. Can only cause conflict because it politicsises the police. Had no information here, at all about candidates, so I did not, for the first time, ever, vote. I assume that all Tory cronies will be elected, because that is what Camerons' creeps want. It is an outrage that we have stood by and allowed this uneccessary event to take place, costing millions of OUR money.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 620.

    Well done RayCraig @33 for being brave enough to challenge the moderators.

    You have been marked down as the Lowest Rated comment.

    Why?

    For being honest and expressing the views of many people.

    Unfortunately, too many of us are frightened to say what we think for fear of legal action - just shows how much PC is embedded in our society.

    As this PCC issue illustrates, nobody listens any more.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 619.

    Whilst researching this vote I asked my step father who was in the Met for 30 years. He said he would not be voting and he has never heard anything so ridiculous. Police and Politics do not mix therefore I made my protest vote ( spoiled ) last night !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 618.

    @589 Dave,
    I voted,just not the way the Goverment wanted me to.I voted with my feet.I do not in the slightest,think it is cool or fashionable,not to vote.I agree with your comments,it is just I used a different kind of vote,that was open to me to something I do not agree with,the protest one.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 617.

    Actually I'm a bit miffed that I missed the opportunity to spend say £20K on getting some leaflets printed and spending some time canvassing. I reckon even with no experience I could of got enough people to vote me into a cushty £100K p.a job for the next 5 years with a no doubt generous pension on top.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 616.

    Labour Mp's gave the PCC's the thumbs up - didn't they?
    Even 2 jags is standing as sees PCC salary as higher than Mp's salary so he can be '4 wide seat Jags Prezza'
    If Labour think PCC's are a waste of time why are Labour MP's rushing in to get higher salaries & a bit of power & ditching their constituents? Those who can't be bothered to vote are just those who can't be bothered -Is their choice

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 615.

    Shambolic

    Nothing more needs to be said.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 614.

    589. Dave 4 Minutes ago
    I voted
    why people think it is cool or fashionable not to vote is beyond me.
    people fought and died to get you the right to vote on issues that affect you and your nation and you throw it away out of hand.
    my view is if you didn't vote then you have no right to comment on any of the outcomes or future debates concerning the police commissioners

    Well we're gonna!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 613.

    £100m to add another tier of well paid self important and impotent beurocracy that no-one really wants. Can't say it's a case of 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' but it would have been better to spend the money if they had to to fix the issues that have dogged the police themselves and kept policing out of the political arena. Didn't have a clue who was for election in my area so wouldn't vote

 

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