Former Met boss Sir Ian Blair tells people not to vote in elections for police and crime commissioners

 

Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair today encouraged people not to vote for police and crime commissioners next month.

Sir Ian said the posts as designed were "very strange" because the police areas were too big for any individual to properly represent.

And amid fears turnout for the November polls could already hit record lows, he told the Sky News Murnaghan programme he would recommend voters not to bother.

He said: "I've never said this before but I actually hope people don't vote because that is the only way we are going to stop this.

"I've always been someone who says vote."

Voters across England and Wales are due to go to the polls on November 15 to elect a police and crime commissioner for each force area.

The Government has faced criticism for holding the elections in winter and not making enough efforts to publicise the elections and failing to offer candidates a free mail shot with their policies.

A media campaign has been launched by the Home Office a month before the first commissioners are elected into the posts which replace local police authorities made up of councillors.

The new commissioners will control police budgets, set priorities and have hire and fire powers over the chief constable.

But Sir Ian said the posts as currently designed were ill conceived.

He said: "If they were going to break policing up, do it in a completely different way, small cities and small towns, perfect. But that is not what you have got.

"How can one person represent the conservative shires of Oxfordshire and Slough? What is this?

"Remember the police authorities are being swept away, they are being replaced by a police and crime panel who can't even talk to the chief constable.

"This is just a very strange issue to come forward with at such a difficult time for the country."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The arrival of Police and Crime Commissioners will mark the most significant democratic reform of policing in our lifetime.

"For the first time the public will finally have a say on key decisions about crime and policing in their area.

"We expect the public will exercise this important new democratic right and vote on November 15."

PA

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