This Thursday, 15th November 2012, will see Britain’s first ever elections for Police & Crime Commissioners to oversee our police forces. Everyone in England and Wales outside of London will vote for a Police & Crime Commissioner for their county. They will be in charge of Chief Constables, set budgets set policing priorities. Here is a list of the candidates standing for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The Police Commissioners are intended by the Conservatives to provide greater accountability to the communities they serve. I question whether one person is more accountable than the police authorities, which comprised a number of people. Nevertheless, here we have an opportunity to get people thinking seriously about policing matters, including how best to handle offenders and prevent reoffending.The prophets of gloom predict that the public will not bother to vote in these elections and that the turnout will hit rock bottom. It does not help that there is no public funding for candidates to help them get their message out – as there is, for example, in a General Election, when every candidate gets one leaflet delivered by the Post Office. Coupled with the fact candidates do have to stump up a £5,000 deposit, it is difficult for anyone to stand if they do not belong to one of the main political parties. Meanwhile, whilst canvassing, I have heard again and again that people have not received enough information on the election or the candidates.
Did you know you get two votes? These elections use the Supplementary Vote system. You vote for your first choice and second choice candidates: if no individual candidate gets a majority of votes cast, then the second choices are redistributed. Here is a video clip explaining the supplementary vote system.
As you might expect, I am giving my first choice vote to the Liberal Democrat candidate for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is Rupert Moss-Eccardt. I have known him for about ten years: he is a policing and security professional and has also served as a Cambridgeshire county councillor – so he knows the police and he knows the people too. I support his emphasis on reducing reoffending and his clear statement that he will not be outsourcing services. You can read more about Rupert’s campaign here.
I have not yet decided where my second vote will go: for the first time, I am a floating voter – well, a semi-floating voter anyhow. But there are still 50 hours to go…