The polls for the police and crime commissioner elections are open and all people from England and Wales, except London where the Metropolitan Police is already overseen by mayor Boris Johnson and the Home Secretary, are able to vote until 10pm tonight (15.11.2012-Thursady). Labour and the Conservatives putting forward a candidate in all 41 areas and the results are due on Friday morning.
According to the UK government these elections will serve for the better of UK nation, by making policing more accountable to the public. The newly elected commissioners, who will take the post on 22 November, will be given the power to set budgets and hire and fire chief constables, however running day-to-day operations will not be included in their responsibilities.
In cases when there is not a single candidate to get the majority of votes, the first top two candidates go to a second round, until one of them is chosen.
Although ministers promote the benefits of the commissioners and say they will cost no more than the existing police authorities, opponents consider the move as a waste of money, especially in such a complicated financial situation.
There are also concerns that the turnout may be very low, with former Home Secretary David Blunkett saying it could be as low as 15%, which would not give “proper legitimacy” to the winners.
Current shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The government, as well as choosing to have the elections in November when they could have waited until May, have simply not provided people with proper information.”
Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps leapt to the defence of the election, saying: “I think it is really important that people know a figurehead, a name of a person that they can turn to when they are concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour in their area. They want to know why the police are costing money on their council tax bill.”This is somebody who will be directly accountable to them for the very first time.”
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