Thursday 15 November will see the first ever Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections take place. For the past few months people across England and Wales have been urged to vote for the candidate they feel best equipped to tackle the new role of Police and Crime Commissioner for their area.
However the problem lies in the fact that no one really knows what this Police and Crime Commissioner role actually entails. In fact there is so much uncertainty among the general public that voting numbers are expected to hit an all time low with the Guardian stating that an Ipsos MORI poll suggests that only 15% of the 40 million adults eligible to vote will do so. So what should the new PCCs be expected to do?
Well according to the Home Office website the PCCs role is to ‘…ensure the policing needs of their communities are met as effectively as possible, [bring] communities closer to the police, [build] confidence in the system and [restore] trust.’ It goes on to explain how the PCCs will play an influential part in key decisions that affect your area from CCTV, street lighting and graffiti to tackling gangs and drug-dealing. Emphasis on the public, and the public having a voice within the police on what they feel are the important issues in their area. So if this is the case why the lack of interest from the general public? The main issue appears to be that we just don’t understand quite what the PCCs should really be doing or why we really need them. Regardless of the relentless advertising, it appears that many still feel they are in the dark when it comes to trying to explain what the candidates stand for.
Here in Norfolk, we have five candidates for the post. James Athill from the Conservatives, James Joyce from the Lib Dems, Steve Morphew for Labour, Matthew Smith, UKIP, and Stephen Bett, Independent. Although not meant to be a political election, it can’t help coming across like one with the majority of candidates having a political affiliation which suggests that their policies may have as well. In spite of this however, all seem to be stating the same thing in their manifestos such as making Norwich safer, appropriate spending etc. etc. In an attempt to create awareness and appeal to younger viewers, Norfolk Police Authority (NPA) released a ‘rap’ video staring Norfolk writer and broadcaster Keith Skipper as Duzzy Raskel. In an interview with the Eastern Daily Press Chief Executive of the NPA Chris Harding claimed that it gave a clear message and that it is important that people in Norfolk have a vote and know of the date for the election.
So who are you going to vote for? Or should the question be, are you going to vote at all? Profiles for all PCC candidates in Norfolk can be found on the Police and Crime Commissioner website, and for more information on the role of the PCC the BBC have done this handy Q&A Guide, or visit the Home Office website.
Elections take place Thursday 15th November.