After being the only one to raise my hand in class when asked if I was going to vote in the Police and Crime Commissioners election, it made me ask the question why doesn’t anyone know what’s going on?
It has been estimated that fewer than 20% of the public will turn out for the election on 15th November to vote for the newly created position, Police and Crime Commissioner.
Wirral MP Andrew Miller expressed his concerns in Parliament about the low turnout, and was told by Prime Minister David Cameron that achieving a high response would be “a challenge”.
JMU Journalism has been out conducting street polls to ask the people of Liverpool if they are going to bother voting, and the results were mixed.
While a larger poll in our Liverpool Life newspaper found that it appears Merseysiders may turn out in greater numbers than is expected nationally, a separate TV report (below) produced some fairly non-plussed responses.
Typical reactions in Natalie Romero’s video report included: “I only know one person that’s standing…” and “I honestly don’t know what it’s about, I really don’t understand it, so I’m not going to vote.”
Some complained that they had not received enough or any information.
One of the problems this election faces is what do the public know about the Police and Crime Commissioners? What will Police and Crime Commissioners do?
The Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) across England and Wales (excluding London) will for the first time be elected by the public. The role of the PCCs will be to hold the police to account for delivering the types of policing the community would like to see, and their aim would be to cut crime and ensure the police force is effective.
The PCCs will be responsible for overseeing a range of policies and police matters in the community. The PCCs will engage with the public and victims of crime to help set police and crime plans.
They will be overseeing the budget and making sure it’s spent where it matters most, and the PCCs will be responsible for appointing, and dismissing, the Chief Constable.
Although a police constable can be appointed or dismissed by a PCC, the PCC will not run the police force; the constable will still run the force on a day-to-day basis, but can be held accountable to the public by the PCC.
It’s important stuff… arguably too important for the decision to be left in the hands of a disinterested or barely-informed public.
On Merseyside there will be six candidates: Geoff Gubb (Conservative); Jane Kennedy (Labour); Hilary Jones (UKIP); Paula Keaveney for the (Liberal Democrats); Kiron Reid (Independent); and Paul Rimmer (English Democrats).
Full profiles of each candidate are available here.
See you at the polls?