It is now only 4 weeks until the electorate in England and Wales get the chance to elect their local Police and Crime commissioner. I have written a couple of posts on this subject, discussed the role on numerous occasions on twitter and have reached a few tentative conclusions regarding this new and somewhat controversial political appointment.
It is my view that independents will have a hard time getting elected – they are up against organised political party machinery which whatever anybody says are able to utilise their members to pound the streets leafletting , door knocking etc.
However the main difficulty for independents will arise where more than one is standing in a force area. Most are standing on a keep politics out of policing ticket and so have much the same message. This will I believe result in the independent vote being fairly evenly divided across the independent candidates in that force area.
The division of the vote will leave the way open for the usual suspects to take first and second place in the first round. The eventual winner will then be decided by the second preference votes of the now rejected independent candidates.
The only areas where independents will have a realistic chance are those where only one is standing and where one of the main parties is not standing for whatever reason. I believe that the Liberal Democrats are not declaring candidates in all police force areas but cannot verify this until the list of official candidates is declared.
Predictions for the turnout remain low and I & others have used this as a no mandate argument against PCC’s. However it is now clear to me that whether or not they have a mandate is irrelevant. They are going to be elected and will then be in charge of the police budget set the policing priorities & will take on a range of other crime reduction responsibilities.
They will also become the democratic voice for the population of the police force they are elected to. In Warwickshire this means around 500,000 people, in Thames valley 2.5 million people and in the West Midlands 2.8 million people.
How is one person supposed to democratically represent the views of all those people? I do not believe that this is possible and so they will either have to gather a range of advisors around them to connect with the public or just stick to their manifesto pledges that a relatively small percentage of the population may have voted for.
So far the governments campaign has been completely underwhelming the advert is just about policing and makes no mention of the other aspects of the role. They keep on about the removal of the ‘evil’ Police Authority and forget to mention the new Police and Crime panel (very similar to a Police Authority) and will not have details of candidates available on their website until the 28th of October. This is in my opinion an appalling level of commitment to what was a main feature of conservative policy for the general election as discussed in this Telegraph article.
Perhaps they have realised just how little interest there is in PCC’s and so do not want to waste money on it?