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UK Politics

Secret policeman’s ballot: New era yawns at polling stations where NO ONE voted for new commissioners


Voter turnout for the police commissioner elections was never expected to be high, but at some polling stations not a single vote was cast.

In some areas barely one in six voters bothered to turn out for the elections of Police and Crime Commissioners and in Newport the council confirmed that at one of their polling stations not a single person cast a vote.

The location of the polling station in Newport has not yet been confirmed.

Votes in just one of the 41 contests to elect commissioners were counted overnight – in Wiltshire, where the Conservative candidate won a clear victory.

Just over 15 per cent of the county’s electors cast a ballot. Other results will be declared this afternoon.

In Coventry, Ken Taylor, the Conservative councillor for Earlsdon Ward, took to Twitter to say it appeared two polling stations in that city had also received no votes - however this has not been confirmed.

In the West Midlands, the largest contest, the turnout was estimated at 12.3 per cent. In Greater Manchester it was around 13 per cent in Cleveland 15 per cent and in Avon and Somerset 19 per cent.

In Humberside – where the battle should have been enlivened by the candidacy of former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott – it was thought to be less than 20 per cent.

In Wiltshire, magistrate Angus Macpherson, standing for the Conservatives, won on the second round of voting. He received 35,319 votes, ahead of Labour's Clare Moody, who obtained 21,157 votes.

The new commissioners, who are expected to earn up to £100,000 a year, will control police budgets, set priorities and have the power to hire and fire Chief Constables.

Asked about the low turnout for the PCC poll in Wiltshire, the county's returning officer Stephen Taylor told the BBC: "It is a new system and people have emailed and contacted us saying that they didn't know enough about the candidates in order to be able to make a choice. Obviously, that's something which I have got no control over."

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "We warned the Government repeatedly that they had the wrong approach and that turnout would be low. Theresa May and David Cameron didn't listen and it is shocking that they have spent £100 million on these elections rather than on 3,000 police constables instead.

"Time and again on the doorstep people told us either they didn't have enough information, didn't know the elections were happening, didn't support them or didn't want to go out in the dark to vote."

Professor John Curtice, a polling expert and professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said the turnout, which could be the worst in any national election ever, would raise questions over the legitimacy of the vote. Curtice said that voters had been left “struggling” to choose candidates after they all promised much the same thing.

The vote has been branded a “comedy of errors” by the Electoral Reform Society, which claimed polling stations across the country had been “standing empty” all day.