Police and Crime Commissioner Elections –Did you know?

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DID YOU KNOW on 15th November 2012 the public will now be able to vote for a new Police and Crime Commissioner in their local area?

Who are Police and Crime Commissioners? They are Crime Commissioners who will ensure the policing needs of their communities are met as effectively as possible, bringing communities closer to the police, building confidence in the system and restoring trust.

PCCs will make and influence key decisions that will impact on how your local area looks and feels – from CCTV, street lighting and graffiti to tackling gangs and drug-dealing.

Their job is to listen to the public and then respond to their needs, bringing more of a public voice to policing and giving the public a name and a face to complain to if they aren’t satisfied.

Crime, no doubt, has become an increasing concern for many areas of the UK since the August Riots 2011. But did you know there have been recent developments which are ensuring the electorate are now eligible to decide the way in which policing in local areas can be conducted. The public in 41 policing areas of England and Wales are able to vote on 15th November for a Police and Crime Commissioner to oversee and monitor their local areas to reduce the rate of criminal activity.

In allowing the electorate the chance to decide a PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) it gives way to a new level of accountability held by the public. It encourages policing in local areas to have a more prominent role instead of being under the ‘watchful gaze’ of a deeply rooted bureaucratic system of Whitehall.  This new advancement adds another layer to the term ‘democracy’. By handing over control to local areas, they can scrutinize the work of their PCC and in turn observe whether crime is reduced.

The Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners are determined to focus on one aspect: REDUCING CRIME. The plan includes a five point system of tackling this issue.

• PCC’s will communicate with the local community and set the appropriate measurements to reduce crime. • Moving police to the front line. There is too much emphasis on the police dealing with paperwork rather than having a visible presence in local areas. • Confronting anti social behaviour ‘head on’ by creating safer communities for citizens. • Reducing the amount of wastage by establishing a system where the taxpayer will get value for money with effective policing. • Help and support for victims of crimes. Working with local neighbourhoods, victims can get the assistance needed to ensure they are fully supported.

Although, this does appear to be a rather reasonable approach in safeguarding communities who have been struggling with an increase in criminal activity the proposed election only takes into consideration 41 areas across England and Wales and excludes Scotland, Northern Ireland and most notably London. Consequently, the Mayor of London has taken on the powers of a PCC, which begs the question, is eliminating London from these elections beneficial? Surely, boroughs in London should be considered given the riots in August last year. Indeed, the riots took place around England; London received the worst in regards to criminal damage. Therefore, would it not be a more positive step to allow the public in London to have a say on the policing in their areas?

There are concerns that the Mayor of London, alone, will have the powers of a PCC which some will argue that it contradicts the notion of accountability which is the aim of these elections.  So how can we hold to account a Police and Crime Commissioner in local areas across England and Wales when the Mayor of London will ultimately exercise power in London? I guess the quickest answer could be that the Mayor serves for a four term period and London will be able to replace and retain the Mayor if they are not happy with his role in Policing.

The elections, which are due to take place on 15th November 2012, will use the supplementary voting system. This method of voting will enable the electorate a first and second preference candidate. The candidate with more than 50% of the vote will be chosen. Further details of polling systems will be clarified nearer to the time of voting.  Again it is always right to go out and vote.

 

August 2012-08-24

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