Sunday, 11 November 2012

Police and Crime Commissioner elections

In my column in the latest edition of the Cornish Guardian, I have had my say on the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. It is as follows:

It is less than one week to the election of a Police and Crime Commissioner for Cornwall, Devon and the Isles of Scilly.

It is an electoral contest that few appear to want and many people, including representatives of police officers, have spoken out against the politicisation of policing.

Put simply, it is surely wrong for the Government to spend £100-£125 million on unwanted elections when it is cutting police budgets and reducing the number of police officers on the beat.

And yet, having decided that elected Commissioners are necessary, central government has arranged the election in a manner that has undermined the whole process, making it little more than a political sideshow.

Along with many others, I was extremely worried that policing would become an “electoral football” every four years, but this election has been so mismanaged that voters are not engaged and the whole thing has become a damp squib.

There will be a total of 1,375 polling stations open across Cornwall, Devon and the Isles of Scilly on 15th November, and over 1,300,000 residents will have the option to cast a vote. 

We have all received a booklet publicising the election and explaining the new voting system. But amazingly, the booklet also tells us that if we want to find out who is standing, we have to visit a website or phone through “to order printed material” about the candidates.

In elections to Westminster and the European Parliament, candidates are allowed to have a leaflet delivered to all residences within a constituency, but central government has decreed that this is not necessary for the Commissioner elections. This makes no sense at all.

There are ten candidates, but information is scant and it has been largely restricted to a few reports in the local press.

I understand that there have been opportunities to meet the Tory candidate at a Padstow Hotel or at the Conservative Club in St Austell, but the events were ticketed and cost £5 and £10 respectively. I understand there was even a “light buffet” at Austell, though I am not sure that paying to meet the candidate is something that will catch on in future  campaigns.

I have even been contacted by a number of residents asking who is standing and whether it is even worth bothering to vote. And is it any wonder? At the time of writing this column, I have had one email from a candidate but I have not received a single leaflet.


Stephen Cornish said...

Of course it's worth voting. People died to get us the vote. No matter how badly the campaigning may have gone or the money spent on the election ... it's going to happen so may as well get your 2p worth in and counted!

craig weatherhill said...

Is it worth voting? "It's going to happen" - yes, we weren't asked through the ballot box whether we wanted this American-style political one-man commission. The entire thing is a sham.

Lance said...

Still undecided to vote or not - only decision so far is not to vote for the Tory, Hogg. I emailed all the candidates and gave had replies from 4 of them (not Hogg).Three are against further privatisation, but seems little to choose between. I suspect the PCCs will have little real 'power' and to be given the role during a period of cuts would seem to leave them as the scape-coats if services worsen as a result of these cuts; so a poisoned chalice? Tending towards 'spoiling' ballot paper!

glynbeddau said...

Here in South Wales I will be writing devolve Policing on the Ballot paper.