Crime commissioner by-election blighted by voter turnout of just 10%

 

Labour’s David Jamieson can celebrate being elected as the £100,000-a-year police and crime commissioner (PCC) for the West Midlands, but few voters seemed enthused by the ballot, with the turnout at just 10.32 per cent.

The figure – which represented just under two million votes being cast – marked a new low, even worse than the previous record of 11.6 per cent in the Staffordshire PCC election in 2012.

The cost to the taxpayer of staging the ballot is estimated at at least £3.7m, or just under £20 for every vote cast. Jack Dromey, the shadow Police minister, said the poll was “characterised by costly chaos and a record low turnout”.

The role of commissioners, who oversee policing and force budgets, were introduced across the UK under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.

Mr Dromey described the legislation, which meant the by-election fell during the summer holidays when many voters were away, and just before a bank holiday weekend, as “a shambles” that benefited neither the candidates nor the electorate.

He added that Labour was now consulting on the future of commissioners, having opposed their original introduction by the Government.

The Electoral Reform Society said the law needed looking at, calling it “a very depressing turnout”.

But Nick Alston, chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said the role was “invaluable” in holding the police to public account.

He added: “The turnout was lower than we would have preferred but that does not detract from the important work PCCs across the country carry out every day.”

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