PCC elections ‘failed’ – Electoral Reform Society

The elections held for police and crime commissioners last November “failed both candidates and voters alike”, a new report has stated.

Polls in 41 police force areas in England and Wales had a turnout of just 15%. The Electoral Reform Society examined the election to see how this could have been improved.

A Populus poll commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society of 1,624 respondents found that 11% knew who their elected representative is.

PCCs have replaced police authorities and will remain in post until 2016.

The report suggests that turnout was severely affected by the election being held in the winter months and voters not given enough information. It recommends that there should be a level playing field for candidates in future elections and people should not be “left in the dark” about what they are voting for.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society said: “This was a flagship policy designed to reconnect the public and the police. Yet, after spending £75m, nearly 90% of Britons have no idea who their elected police and crime commissioner even is.

“November's bungled poll failed both candidates and voters. Government mismanagement has handed our elected commissioners a poisoned chalice, and it remains unclear how they can overcome it.

“The Electoral Commission's forthcoming review must not pull its punches. The government has singularly failed to accept any responsibility and would like to see nothing more than a whitewash.”

A Home Office spokesperson responded: “More than five million people turned out to vote for the first ever election of police and crime commissioners, giving them an infinitely bigger mandate than the unelected and invisible police authorities they replaced.

“That number will only grow in the future as people see the real impact PCCs are already making in their areas, delivering on public priorities in tackling crime.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]

Image c. Rod Minchin/PA


Anthony Tuffin   26/02/2013 at 18:03

Your otherwise excellent comment on the Electoral Reform Society’s recent report on last November’s elections for police and crime commissioners and the appallingly low turnout (15.1%) for the elections overlooks a couple of points, but that may be because they did not feature in the Society’s summary of its report. 19% of non-voters gave their reason for not voting as “I don’t agree with electing police officials this way.” These non-voters sound like politically aware citizens who chose to boycott the elections because they disagreed with electing police chiefs and/or the voting system used to elect them. The Supplementary Vote (SV) system used for these elections was an attempt to remedy some of the defects of First Past The Post elections, but many successful candidates were not elected by a majority of even the few votes that were cast. The Alternative Vote (AV) system would have been easier for voters to understand and use and would have produced fairer and more representative results. Readers can read more in about this.

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