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Big Issue: A student's view of the police commissioner elections

By The Citizen  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

new:  The police and crime commissioner voter turnout levels are predicted to be below 40 per cent.

new: The police and crime commissioner voter turnout levels are predicted to be below 40 per cent.

Comments (0)

I'M stunned. I cannot quite understand why we're being forced to vote for a new police and crime commissioner.

As a journalism student, I thought I was pretty aware of what was going on around me. I make sure to vote in every election I'm supposed to, and I make sure to research who I'm voting for and why I'm doing it.

I also keep an eye on national and local news, so I tend to feel in the loop. So, when this police and crime commissioner election started to be broadcast on television, it took me slightly by surprise.

I wasn't sure how I managed to miss it, but upon finding out about it, I brought it up in my lecture. Not surprisingly, I found out that actually I wasn't the only one. Several students knew virtually nothing about this election; some were even confused enough to believe it was another general election.

Others who did know about it were so disengaged that they barely bothered to comment more than that they wouldn't be voting.

And why would they?

The role of police and crime commissioner is one that most of the general public are struggling to understand the point of.

Having since researched the role, I find myself in disbelief at what this job entails and who the candidates are.

One of the points that seemed to be conveyed most prominently with this election is that it's not political.

But a £5,000 deposit to pay to stand for election has priced many without a political affiliation out of standing, including Jeanne Berry, who was intending to stand to oppose the badger cull.

As a 22-year-old, I can't see how most people my age would even know where to find £5,000 to stand, let alone the costs to have a decent campaign.

It'll be interesting to see the voter turnout levels of this election.

With it expected to be below 40 per cent, perhaps it will be shown that people are simply not interested in voting for a police and crime commissioner.

Speaking to friends at university about this, I can't see many of them walking to their local polling station to vote for someone and something that they feel doesn't concern them.

I feel voting is important, and I'm keen to voice my view, but I can't see me doing anything other than destroying my ballot paper.

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  • halfdome1  |  November 16 2012, 9:33AM

    ...best thing would be to spoil your ballot paper - writing your thoughts/opinion would generate more interest/response than not voting (silent 'voice')...as thos counting will note much more closely any spoiled papers, especially if there is a comment/statement/rant on there.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 16 2012, 9:21AM

    Matt1006 has a point - if you don't participate, you don't care one way or the other - so will just have accept whoever is selected by those who voted. Agree though the candidates have made very little effort in campaigning and letting electors know what difference they will make. That is incompetence on their part and does not fill one with great confidence on whoever wins the election.

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  • Dave_t10  |  November 15 2012, 11:51PM

    The point everyone seems to be missing is that we already have unelected officials running the Police, they are called the Police Authority. Are the independent? No Are they already political? Yes Are the elected by the public? No Changing to an democratically elected Police Commissioner can only be a positive step. If the public are then not happy with them, they vote them out. Currently if you don't like what the Police Authority decide, what can you do? Nothing. For the critics who are moaning about the cost of this. Actually, it expected to save money. The allowances and expenses paid to the Authority members (generally 12-15 of them) exceeded the salary of the Commissioner post.

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  • Lord_Gaga_  |  November 15 2012, 9:38PM

    i get it, the tories know given a low turnout they will always win, thats why no one knows what its all about, they didn't want you to know. How much is this costing? as said before, lets spend the money on policing

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  • a_calm_voice  |  November 15 2012, 3:57PM

    What's the point of not voting? The government has already made it clear that the commissioner positions won't cease to exist just because there's been a low poll. The only way the posts might get abolished is if we have another Labour government and that won't happen before May 2015 at the earliest. There's no way the Tories or Lib Dems will get rid of these posts because that would be to admit that they were wrong to set them up.

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  • FreeRadical1  |  November 15 2012, 3:47PM

    This student's view is typical of many people that I've spoken to. Even a number of ex police officers have told the media that people should boycott the election; one of these was Lord Blair, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Tony Melville left his job as Chief Constable of Gloucestershire because he didn't want to work under an elected police commissioner, and now his replacement is also leaving. Having an elected Police Commissioner is costing a lot of extra money, which should have been spent on policing.

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  • a_calm_voice  |  November 15 2012, 3:03PM

    Walker100 - it's a mystery to me how you can make the connections between my point and your suggestions (were both perhaps intended to be facetious?). It's certainly foolish to vote for someone who doesn't want to be elected but I don't agree that the reverse is necessarily true or that it was a very good joke even all those years ago when it was first uttered.

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  • Walker100  |  November 15 2012, 2:39PM

    by-a-calm-voice, are you suggesting that the ordinary person is without political skills? This sort of matter often reminds me of the proposal that we should never vote for a person that wants to be elected!

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  • a_calm_voice  |  November 15 2012, 2:10PM

    It's a mystery to me why Walker100 would want a "normal person in the street" to stand for this or any other elected role. Whoever gets this post, even if they're not a politician by trade (and none of the candidates is), will need good political skills because they'll be dealing in the worlds of politics and people. I think the £5,000 deposit (which is returned to any candidate who gets enough votes) was designed to put off the exhibitionists and fruitcakes, who want little more than their 15 seconds of fame, rather than to deter any serious candidates.

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  • Walker100  |  November 15 2012, 1:39PM

    Matt1006, I have to disagree that not voting means you waive your right to moan about who gets the job. I think the PCC election is proving to be a perfect opportunity for the electorate to fight for a "none of the above" option on all ballot forms. While it is an accepted principal that anyone can stand for election it is almost entirely impossible for the normal person in the street to do so given the amount required to be spent to even give one's self a chance of having their deposit returned.

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