On Saturday 15th November England and Wales will experience a democratic phenomenon with the public electing Police and Crime Commissioners into office for the first time.
This new role will see Commissioners hold the police force to account, control the budget and set the priorities. They will even have the power to hire and fire Chief Constables. Moreover, with all this power they will have a great responsibility: to ensure the police work effectively and efficiency, and solely for the benefit of the public.
Yet critical to ensuring their success is public awareness for the upcoming elections and an understanding of what each candidate has to offer.
To this end, Policy Exchange have recently launched a website – www.PoliceElections.com – as our contribution to help inform the public of who is standing for their police force and what their vision is for tackling crime and disorder.
The visions painted by the Commissioner candidates are certainly diverse. Take two Labour Candidates, James Plaskitt and Jane Kennedyfor example.
James Plaskitt – the former Labour MP for Warwick & Leamington – is standing for Warwickshire Police Force and has made fighting for more funding from Whitehall a central plank of his campaign.
He states that “Warwickshire Police are being asked to take the largest cuts of any force in the country” and argues that his “detailed knowledge of how Whitehall works and how these decisions get made” will make it possible.
In contrast, Jane Kennedy – the former Police & Security Minister in Northern Ireland – who is standing in Merseyside has focused her campaign on a promise to bring unity and coordination across the criminal justice system and government agencies.
In particular, she wants to pull together “the whole criminal justice chain to ensure it works effectively for victims” and government agencies in order to “fight the recent growth in gun crime and cannabis farming.”
As well as informing the public of the candidates’ visions, the Police Elections website has hinted that talks of voter apathy may be off the mark: within its first three weeks the website received over 1,000,000 hits and over 20,000 unique visitors. The public are keen to find out more. It is now up to the candidates to get their messages across and hope that the public are excited by their vision for the police and the fight against crime.