What’s missing from the PCC elections?
Author: Zoe Stavri
Published on Sep 11, 2012
The Conservative policy for elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) has been fraught with problems from the beginning. There is little public interest or demand for elected commissioners. There is little funding available for candidates’ campaigning, and seemingly arbitrary criteria for who may or may not stand. One candidate has been forced to stand down due to a crime he committed when he was 13, while magistrates have been ordered to resign from their positions if they wish to run as commissioners.
One of the most widely-criticised moves was that the information about who could and could not stand would only be available online. This issue has now, thankfully, been addressed by the Electoral Commission, who have stepped in to publish a booklet about the elections to be mailed to voters, although these booklets will not include information about candidates.
However, the Commission has also criticised the Home Office for being six months late in publishing details about fees and charges for counting officers, and has not made an order about Welsh language ballots. Without this, the ballots will only be published in English, which would contravene rules about information being published in both languages.
With seemingly arbitrary criteria for who may or may not stand, important details missing, no readily available information about who is standing and a lack of support for candidates, the PCC elections are a far cry from the increased democracy and accountability that was promised. It may prove to be a recipe for disaster, with a low turnout and the possibility of extremists being elected.
To highlight how opaque the information on PCCs is, we have a challenge for you. Take a stopwatch, and time how long it takes you to find out who is running for PCC in your area, and what they stand for- the basic information you’ll need to make an informed choice. Write to your MP telling them how long it took you.
With four months to go, time is running out to address these woeful shortcomings. As it stands, this is not the route to democratised, accountable policing.