Debate over Police and Crime Commissioner election costs

16 November 2012.....  Police and Crime Commisioners election count in Huddersfield
16 November 2012..... Police and Crime Commisioners election count in Huddersfield

POLICE elections costing £100m have been heavily criticised after they were rejected by the public.

The Home Office has claimed the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) role will give the public more of a say in how their police force is run.

But clear protests were made about costly changes to the system last week.

Just 13.91 per cent chose to vote in West Yorkshire, and more than 8,000 ballot papers were spoilt, some with written protests.

Many chose not to vote because they didn’t agree with the new system or were not given enough information to make an informed choice.

The elections are estimated to have cost £400,000 in Wakefield alone.

And this week the Electoral Commission announced that there would be a review into they had been conducted.

Yvette Cooper MP said: “The Government has made a real mess of these elections, spending £100m that they could have spent on 3,000 police officers instead.

“Why on earth did David Cameron decide to hold these elections in November without giving people any proper information? The Electoral Commission review needs to get to the bottom of this Home Office chaos.”

At last Friday’s count, Liberal Democrats’ candidate Andrew Marchington said prospective voters had complained about a lack of information and many even thought they had been asked to elect a chief constable.

The eventual winner Mark Burns-Williamson said there had “clearly been some confusion” about the system.

But the Home Office said turnout would grow in future elections as people saw the “real impact” of the PCC.

A spokeswoman said: “More than 5m people have turned out to vote for PCCs giving them an infinitely bigger mandate than the unelected and invisible police authorities they are replacing.

“These elections mark the biggest democratic reform in policing in our lifetimes.”

Returning officer Joanne Roney said: “Many voters made comments about the arrangements for these elections both verbally and on ballot papers and we will be feeding back nationally.”