Saturday, November 17, 2012

Police and Crime Commissioners in Wales

Must admit to never having been a great supporter of the Police and Crime Commissioner idea - though did become more supportive after sitting through the Prime Minister's Statement on the Hillsborough Disaster a few weeks ago. I cannot imagine police behaviour so incredibly awful happening if there had been a head of police answerable to voters at an election - even if it was over 20 years ago. The idea of PCCs was a clear Conservative manifesto commitment in 2010, so I dutifully voted in favour as the legislation went through the House of Commons. Soon as it became an act, I wanted the new system to work as successfully as possible.

Of course yesterday's turn-out was disappointing. In large part this has been because people decided to just not vote, or spoil their ballot papers, as their way of registering disapproval. Personally, I think it would have helped if each candidate had been allowed one free election communication. In Dyfed/Powys we put a lot of effort into helping Chris Salmon engage with voters, but still many felt they knew nothing about who was standing. Its a very difficult job for a candidate to engage with such a large dispersed population. But I do not buy this stuff about low turn-out depriving the new PCCs of credibility or authority. That will depend on the personalities of those newly elected and how well they work with their Chief Constables.

Wales threw up some surprising results - in two of the four elections anyway. Labour were expecting to win three for certain with high hopes in the fourth, but won only one. Very bad day for Labour in Wales. Alun Michael was elected as PCC for the South Wales Force. Had my run-ins with him over the years, but he's a very sound man on law and order. So I reckon he'll do a good job. Big surprise in Gwent where Ian Johnson, an ex-policeman standing as an Independent defeated the favoured Labour candidate. And another surprise in North Wales where Lib Dem member and former Counsel General of the National Assembly for Wales defeated Labour's favoured Tal Michael. The competition in Dyfed Powys was close, with our man, Christopher Salmon just squeezing out Labour's Christine Gwyther.  I believe Chris will be a great success in the job.

Lots of very sensible people decided not to vote, and several thousand defaced their ballot papers. It is their right of course, but I just do not agree with this. The PCCs legislation was properly enacted within our democratic system. Lots of things have become law over the decades that I disapproved of - but I've always voted, and accepted the result of the ballot. That's how democracy works. We now have PCCs in place, and if any of them do not perform as required, those who did not vote will not be in any position to complain. Lets hope that in four years time the turn-out will be nearer the 50% it should have been.


Glyndo said...

"The PCCs legislation was properly enacted within our democratic system."

Agreed, but that doesn't mean that people can't show their disapproval of what they see as a bad piece of legislation. The democratic process is not linited to what goes on in Westminster. I'm sure you know and understand that Glyn.

Roy Norris said...

They all claim a "Democratic Mandate", doesn't matter if they have "confidence" of about 7% of the electorate - they will still take the money and be paid, without chance of recall, for the next 4 years! What a perversion of the democratic process. All Dyfed Powys proves is that the Tory party machine mobilised more members to vote than did the Labour party machine.

Karl Lewis said...

What a load of ballocks Glyn. Your government are spending £100 Million of our money on something that needs the public to aprove. Yet you can't supply any main stream postal information on "your" man. This is absolute shambles. Its a dark time for democracy. How can you vote for someone you have no idea about, total lunacy. You and your government must be held to account on this, is this election even legitimate? I cant see how it can be! What was the official figures % for our area? I would be surprised if it was above 10%. And to say in your blog that "those who did not vote will not be in any position to complain". I didn't vote Glyn and guess what I'm complaining! Why because you and your government couldnt get the information needed for me to make a decision. I've missed out on my right to vote because your government have balled it up. What a bloody mess! I have supported most of the dessions that your party have made over the two years, but I cannot support this one. Sort it out!

Glyn Davies said...

Glyndo - I do indeed understand. Disagreement is not the same as criticism.

Roy - If that were the only reason Chris was elected, I'd say it justified our efforts. Don't know whether you know him, but I think Chris salmon will make a splendid PCC.

Karl - the official turnout for Dyfed/Powys was 16.4% - the highest in Wales and 7th highest anywhere. Worth noting that the two parliamentary elections in Manchester and cardiff held same day were 18% and 25%. There is a tradition of poor turnouts in Nov, which was insisted upon by the Lib Dems. And some parties were campaigning to encourage spoilt votes. And no free mailshots were allowed. In circumstances we did as well as could be expected.

Anonymous said...

Off topic ... but does anyone know why/what's happened to "Valleys Mam" blog ... seems to have vanished. Has it a new home? tia

Anonymous said...

Glyn, the whole idea of pushing through this agenda at huge expense and waste of money at a time when everybody is being told to cut back and face austerity is a total disgrace. How can anybody justify such a waste of resources astounds me and makes a mockery of calling the Tories the money efficient party. Lets devolve the responsibility and scrap these jobs for the boys.

Anonymous said...

Since the UK has followed the USA on electing folks that can hire/fire heads of local police forces - then do what happens in the USA: to get better than 7% or whatever voter turnout - in fact get exact same turnout that happens on national election day!


Dead simple: add the choices of new Police Commissioners on the national ballot!

There, that was easy.


PS I just voted (along with my American mum) on November 6 - guess what: there was this choice and that choice and this question about this and that other funding about taking out loans etc. to fund new trams to run down Columbia Pike etc. etc. So the ballot 'paper' was not just for who should be the next President of the United States of America, but also should we have this person or that person as the new School what's it, or raise this or that money to fund this or that project. Get it right Britain - add the question about who should be the next regional Police Commissioner to the National Ballot on National voting day. Duh