CC (2012) – Police and Crime Commissioners.

Originally written way back in 2012 for the now defunct website ‘Conservative Companion’ this Article was one of the first pieces I ever wrote an also became one of my most successful, garnering over 2,000 hits before the site collapsed. It was quite short, at least by my standards, and explained the basic functions of PCCs as well as the thinking behind them and the system they were replacing.

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On the 15th November voters in England and Wales will go to the polls to decide on our first regional Police and Crime Commissioners. As you may or may not be aware they will have the power to:

A). Set the police budget.

B). Set the police and crime plan which will set out local policing priorities.

C). Hire and fire chief constables.

They will also have the role of meeting the public to provide a direct democratic link between the police and the population.

The Reason behind the change is that it is the opinion of central office, and many grassroot members of the Conservative party, that the current police authorities are invisible, are not accountable to the public and are not the most effective way to get the job done.

For those who don’t know, police authorities have roughly the same powers as the PCCs who will replace them except they are a board usually with 17 members made up of councillors, magistrates and appointees. The policing authorities will cease to exist when the Commissioners take up their post on the 22nd of November.

Both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat manifestoes in 2010 laid out plans for change, the Conservatives for creation of single elected posts to oversee the policing of areas whilst the Liberal Democrats proposed elected authorities with strengthened powers mirroring the current system in Scotland.

Labour oppose the elections arguing that it gives too much power and responsibility to one single individual, they also argue that the elections are being badly handled, are a waste of money and are being held too late in the year. The Liberal Democrats maintain that PCCs are not party policy and generally back labours stance. Regardless, of this they have both decided to let local party organisations decide whether to stand candidates or not.

41 positions are up for election with 193 candidates standing across the country. There are 54 independents, 24 candidates each for the Liberal Democrats and UKIP with the Conservatives and Labour putting up candidates in every area. Numerous other small parties such as the Greens and English Democrats are fielding candidates.

The voting system that will be used is called the Supplementary Vote, or SV for short. It is the system that is used to elect mayors in England and Wales, including

the Mayor of London. Unlike the First Past the Post system used in local and national elections you will be able to mark both your first and second preference candidate. When the votes are counted the second preference votes is only taken into consideration if a candidate fails to get more than 50% of the first preference votes. It is worth noting that you do not have to give a second preference, you are allowed to vote for just one candidate.

For me his will be the first election that I can vote in and I shall be up bright and early to cast my vote, in the local polling station at the end of my road, before trundling off the school. I am of the persuasion that it is a citizen’s duty to vote in elections so would urge anybody who is reading this who was considering not bothering to get themselves down their local station to cast a vote, even spoiling a ballot paper is better than not voting at all!!

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