Coffee House

They’re nearly here but still, no one cares about elected police commissioners

14 November 2012

1:30 PM

14 November 2012

1:30 PM

This time tomorrow, the country will be flocking to the polls to select their first ever police commissioners. Or at least some of them will. Turnout has long predicted to be low, but the latest analysis by Sky’s psephologist Michael Trasher suggests it will come in between 15 and 20 per cent. Such a figure would be the lowest of any election in modern times (outside of London). As the Electoral Reform society notes, the current record stands from 1998 at 25 per cent.

Much of the apathy towards these elections can be blamed on poor public understanding of PCCs. Although a marketing push has been underway in the last few weeks, it appears to have made little impact. Last weekend, I took a straw poll of people in Newcastle to find out their views. Those I asked were either unaware of the elections or planned to spoil their ballot/not vote over the lack of campaigning effort from the candidates.


On a more scientific basis, the latest Sunday Times polling demonstrates what little impact the promotion of the elections has made. Excluding London and Scotland, 28 per cent stated they are certain to vote in the elections and 23 per cent said they are certain not to vote. On the question of whether they support the concept of police commissioners, only 20 per cent said they do while 46 per cent state they don’t know. On policing standards, over half believe that the PCCs will make no difference to either standards of policing or crime fighting:

However, there is one glimmer of hope for the government. The Conservatives are, as I wrote recently, still the party of choice for law and order, which presents the Tories with an electoral opportunity particularly in urban centres. This polling confirms that they remain far ahead of the other parties:

The apathy does not hide a demand for change in policing. Only 7 per cent believe policing has improved over the last two years. Elected commissioners is the ideal vehicle for the public to instigate a change in policing; but the message has failed to get through as yet.

As Paul Goodman has said eloquently this morning, the concept should still be given the benefit of the doubt at this stage. The uphill battle to convince the public that elected commissioners are not a waste of their time and money will really begin tomorrow and in the following days.

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Show comments
  • Cassandra1963

    Just another layer of highly paid taxpayer funded non jobs that will make almost no difference to the lives of ordinary people, it will cost a fortune at the time when police numbers are being cut. A typical smoke and mirror trick by a corrupt establishment expert in the art of political manipulation, appearing to give the public a democratic say in policing while denying the public any say on the real issues of the day.

    For the same cost as this utterly useless exercise we could have had a multiple referendum on the IN/OUT referendum on the EU and whether the public supports the increase in foreign aid at a time when defence and public services are being slashed at home and whether we support the theft of our right to our own supreme justice via the ECHR. There are many policies that the public need to have a say in and the regime is determined to deny us the opportunity.

    This is a poll almost nobody wants, it distracts the police at a time when they are being already pulled in too many directions by political interference, it adds yet another layer of control when it should be set free to fight crime. Of all the things the public is concerned about this current poll comes last on the list, were we asked if we would like the cost of this new police kommissar used to recruit more police on the ground? No, of course not, were we given the choice of saying yes or no to this idea? No, of course not.

    The public is presented with a done deal, we are expected to play by the regimes rules like good little plebs, we are not trusted with real and genuine choices, we are not to be given the chance to decide on the real issues of great interest. In other words we are being taken for fools, we are being exploited and manipulated in the worst possible way, our rulers are expressing their utter contempt for the public. If you vote in this charade you are simply enabling the regime, the regime is spitting in our faces with this joke of a vote, oh how they are sniggering at us, if it doesnt make you furious you do not understand what the regime is doing.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Cast my postal vote a week ago: for UKIP.

  • Cogito Ergosum

    So few votes are likely to be cast that the Chief Constables will frame them in their offices. Er, gulp!

    • TomTom

      Chief Constables know how to frame voters

  • barbie

    Well I’ve voted via a postal vote, but its for none of the regular parties. I’ve voted for a UKIP man. I think they are better informed, and they have better ideals. However, if the turnout is below 20% the whole thing should be cancelled.

  • M. Wenzl

    The commissioner elections, the (failed) House of Lords reforms and just a glance at the Bristol mayoral election is enough to make one lose all faith in democracy as an end in itself, and move to a benevolent dictatorship like Singapore.

  • Tony, Somerset

    Only vote for an Independent. Take the politics out of policing.

  • dalai guevara

    Why does no one appear to care?

    Is it because this appears to be one of the biggest smoke screen democratic elections that gloss over the fact of imminent part-privatisation of police services? You know my position on privatisation, another u-turn is urgently required, bearing in mind yet more G4S-style car crashes we are about to partake in.

  • eeore

    The choice here is Hobsons choice.

    Labour have put up a fat bloke who wants ‘robust’ policing *yawn*. The Liberal reckons he’s going to give half his salary to charity and is referred to as ‘she’ on his website. The Conservative’s have put up a lady in a hat, who lists the various committees she is on but doesn’t say what she plans to do. And then there is an ex policeman who reckons he is going to tackle corruption which is laudable but highly doubtful he will do it.

    • Vulture

      Do you live in Sussex perchance, eeore? (Your description of the candidates sounds eerily familiar). I’m going to vote for the ex-cop Tom Armstrong – whom you omit to mention is the UKIP candidate – and I urge anyone who wants to kick the Coaliton’s arse but can’t stand Labour to do the same. Each and every election between now and 2015 should have but one aim: to hammer another nail into the Coalition’s coffin. They have betrayed Britain to the EU and AQ.

      • eeore

        Nope not Sussex.

        Which makes the process even more worrying, if the elections have identikit candidates.

      • dalai guevara

        Perhaps anyone with an Eton-style education would realise that our religion has Roman origins, our accounting is based on Arabic numerology and our civil service only serves us well if it returns to its Prussian values.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    So the answer for substandard government is to create more government?

    It’s a good thing there’s plenty of loose cash to spend on this. Otherwise we’d have to be worried.

    • TomTom

      Been the solution for decades……….Britain is over-administered and under-managed

  • Rhoda Klapp

    No leaflet, no discussion, no democracy. Suppose they gave an election and nobody came?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      “vee hov vays of maykheeng yoo voht!”

    • TomTom

      Soviet Election rigged by Insiders

    • telemachus

      I have been leafletted and will vote
      It is good to have local imput into police priorities
      Mebbe we can stop them preferentially stopping and searching blacks and get them to man the desks for access at all police stations where they sit about but have closed front doors

      • Robert_Eve

        Trust you will be voting UKIP Tele?

        • telemachus

          No UKIP man near me
          If there were he would suck the few votes the Tory candidate might expect leaving approaching zero

      • TomTom

        There is no vote for London so how do you expect the Met to bother about your obsessions……..? Besides the Home Office decides as they pay for Policing – Council Tax payers only pay for the Shortfall in the Police Pension Fund with their Council Tax Precept

    • Glurk

      Mmmmm! Suppose!!!

  • dodgy

    I would like the police to stop murdering and torturing us.

    If that’s too much to ask, I would like them to be punished when they do.

    If that’s too much to ask also, it would be nice to think that they might be subject to the same laws, for instance, having to pay speeding fines.

    Alas, even that seems to be too much to ask…

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