The election turnout for the Police and Crime Commissioners throughout the country has been abysmal. The whole election has been doomed from the start with masses of negative press from every media outlet; doing their best to ‘spread’ the message with an added twist of highlighting that no one will turn out. The blame does not lie with them for the low voter turnout though. The blame lays squarely with the Government.
It was always going to be a doomed process when the very first election was to be held in November, historically a November election has a significantly lower turnout than any other time of year and significantly lower than May. Let’s be honest who wants to haul their ass down to the polling station on a cold, damp and dreary November day. Then you have the fact it is dark by 4.30pm.
We now have a situation where there is a distinct lack of trust in politicians throughout the country. After the expenses scandal and the very backward attitudes held by the Houses of Parliament on how their expenses should remain. Many who are being brought forward for massive scandal show no remorse and seem to think this as a minor error. I must remember that when I try to swindle a company out of thousands of pounds that the best defence should be that I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to claim for an organisation that didn’t exist. It was only a bit of fraud after all.
The combined effect of the timing and the lack of trust in politicians can be shown by the by-election turnout yesterday in Manchester Central with only 18% of people voting for their new MP.
This isn’t the only reason for the low turnout though. The fact is no one seems to know what the Police and Crime Commissioner is meant to be doing, the only role that is discussed is that of holding the Chief Constable to account. There hasn’t been much announced about what the Commissioner can and will be doing, there should have been an education campaign starting last year, rather than the pathetic leaflet from the Electoral Commission, that also didn’t tell you a great deal. Even some of the candidates didn’t know some of the roles they would have. The core role though was to replace the Police Authority.
For the past almost 50 years the Police Authorities have sat around a talking shop to make the decisions that the PCC will face. North Yorkshire was one of the worst. They have been blasted by the IPCC on several occasions and still they remained. Then again several of the members had such a low attendance record that they shouldn’t have been entrusted with the role. The Police Authority was made up of primarily councillors, so this ‘new’ aspect that has been discussed by the media of politicising the police has already been in place for the past 50 years. Many councillors have seen the police Authority as a nice little extra earner. At the very least this politico is elected and more importantly accountable. There will be a large number of spoilt ballots with most people stating that they do not want the Police Force being politicised, a message that is being pushed by those who like the status quo.
The comments of this being an extra layer of bureaucracy are not actually that correct. If you look at the bigger picture this is just a single person being elected to replace the appointed members of the Police Authority. They will have additional controls, the sensible option would have been to give the Police Authority the same powers as the Police & Crime Commissioner and then building up to an election ion 2015. When a majority of the country is voting.
The Lib Dems will be happy that they have managed to reduce this election to such a small minority of people turning out. It is a real shame that their has been a lack of information coming out from Government about the elections. Many voters annoyed that they have not been informed of the candidates, not realising that the local associations are having to foot the bill of this extra election. Let me tell you trying to campaign in an area the size of North Yorkshire is expensive.
I hope their will be a much greater turnout for the next election of the Police & Crime Commissioner in the future as this is an important role that needs more time for the message of the PCC and the roles they will play to sink in to people.