Police and crime commissioner elections will be a first

Last updated at 16:18
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Nel finds out more about the elections...

People in England and Wales will vote to elect local police and crime commissioners (PCCs) for the first time ever, on Thursday 15 November 2012.

The new PCCs will replace groups of people called police authorities.

Their job will be to hire top police officers, called chief constables, and decide which crimes to target, based on local people's concerns.

But some say they might interfere with running day-to-day policing, which is still the job of chief constables.

The elections will take place in 41 police force areas outside London.

They've been described as the biggest shake-up of policing for almost 50 years.

'The voice of the people'

The police have always been independent of the politicians who decide on the laws of the country. They aim to protect everyone, no matter who they are or what they believe.

But three-quarters of the candidates up for election are linked to a political party, and some fear that the new PCCs will be more interested in politics than policing.

The government minister in charge of the police, Theresa May, says the new commissioners will be "the voice of the people," and if people don't like how their police force is being run, they can kick out their local commissioner when they're next up for election.

But it's thought only around 1 in 5 people will vote on Thursday. Some say that's not enough votes for the PCCs to claim they have the support of local people to make changes to their police force.