Concern over new police and crime commissioners vote

  • 5 October 2012
  • From the section Politics
Policewoman

An advertising campaign is being launched to encourage people to vote for the new role of police and crime commissioner.

Elections are being held on 15 November across England and Wales, excluding London.

But there are concerns most people won't bother to vote and that many don't even know the elections are happening.

What is a police commissioner?

The 41 elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will set the budget for their local force and decide what its priorities and strategy should be.

PCCs will have the power to hire and fire chief constables, the top officers on a police force, and they will also be in charge of support services for victims.

Why are they being elected?

Until now the work of a PCC was done by a police authority, a group of about 17 people.

The government says these authorities are invisible to the public and hopes the new system will make the police more accountable.

Many places in the US already elect commissioners, or sheriffs, who are in charge of the police.

How much are they being paid?

Between £65,000 and £100,000 a year, depending on the size of the force and the challenges in their area.

What could go wrong?

Some officers fear it could mean politicians interfering in their jobs as many of the candidates are linked to political parties.

It has also been suggested that talented candidates might be overlooked in favour of those with big personalities.

If the voter turnout is very low, it will be hard for commissioners to claim they have the backing of the public.

There are fears too that money may be diverted to deal with more popular topics, like litter and graffiti, over forced marriage or sexual violence.