Saturday, November 17, 2012

PCC elections - shall we pretend it never happened?

For about 85% of the country with elections it didn't.  (And didn't at all in Scotland and London)

There will be many reasons put forward for the embarrassingly low turnout for this flagship Tory policy;

1.  It was in November (so was the 1935 General Election with 71% turnout) 

2.  It was the first election for PCC's. (the first euro elections in 1979 had 32% T/O - which remains the average )

3.  People didn't know what the PCC role was about (this includes many of the candidates)

4.  People didn't know the candidates policies (the candidates generally didn't have any*) 

5.  People are lazy (Don't buy that theory given the huge numbers who made the effort to spoil their paper)

6.  People were unaware of the elections (£75m wasted on promoting them then)

7.  The media didn't give the PCC election coverage (media publishes the stories it believes its audience is most interested in, perhaps they, unlike Cameron, sussed that people weren't interested)

The fact is, whilst all the above may have shades a few decimal points off the turnout, the principle reason was

8.  People don't want a politician running the police

Many would have suffered the dilemma that I faced. 

I don't want our police politicised. 

I don't want the police run by someone who knows nothing about policing. 

This was a silly election based on a silly idea for a silly post. 

I did not support the Lib Dems standing in this election, refused to be sub-agent and didn't campaign.  Without the support of the political activist (any this is many from all parties) you get none of the door knocking, leaflets or posters.  The public, much as they may say they hate receiving wads of paper through their letter-box, are alerted to an election by all that activity.  In this election I had nothing.  Not a single leaflet.  For the first time in many years I didn't deliver one, design one, do that emergency dash to the printers or sit up until midnight to get that leaflet right.  Not only was most of the nation completely uninterested, the people who love elections, who do party politics, who are involved in local government, who generate the activity and press releases that keeps the media interested, they simply weren't bothered either. 

I know friends who went to the polling station yesterday out of a sense of duty rather than desire to have a PCC.  I know many more who, like me, decided to take no part in the process and not vote at all.

As a final though - Crime is falling year on year.  It has been for over a decade.  Whether that is a sequence of good government policy or (and perhaps more likely) that our police forces are, on the whole, actually very good and well run and the other agencies that work to reduce re-offending, help rehabilitation, And the security industries that have made locks better, cars more secure, mobile phones lockable are pretty efficient too.

For those elected as PCC's here's your challenge;

If crime keeps going down- then it was any way, what difference did you make, what's the point in you?
If crime stops going down - that will be your fault for interfering with the police.
If crime goes up - that will be your fault, the police were clearly doing better without you.

Good luck

*In terms of policy, candidates generally went for "will reduce crime and make our streets safer" and "cut anti-social behaviour" all sound terrific, but do you not think the police had thought about this as an idea and are already doing it?  Was any candidate going to offer an alternative "we will promote crime and make our streets more dangerous" of course not.  The candidates had statements rather then policies.

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