Derbyshire PCC criticises government over elections

Cllr Alan Charles Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire
Cllr Alan Charles Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire

Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles has backed a report which criticises the Government’s handling of the PCC elections last November.

Mr Charles said: “There was not only a lack of information, but what was available was late and not publicised nearly enough by the Home Office. This meant that candidates were not able to engage with every household and tell them how they would tackle community issues on their behalf.

“This was our citizens’ opportunity to have their say about who should represent their needs and voice their views regarding the policing of their neighbourhoods. Unfortunately, many were unsure about what the elections involved.

“I was not surprised that, as a result, people were confused by the process. I sincerely hope that the Government has learned its lessons and will make sure that, in future, elections for this role are administered in line with the report’s recommendations.”

Mr Charles was commenting on an Association of Electoral Administrators report which maintains that the elections’ timing was not in the interests of voters who were not “at the heart of the process.” This was despite the elections marking a historic democratic reform in policing.

The Association’s recommendations include a call for the Government to hand oversight of future PCC elections to the Cabinet Office, which has more experience of electoral administration. There are also suggestions that in future elections Ministers should provide mailings or a delivery of booklets containing information about the elections and the candidates to all households.

Labour Shadow Policing Minister, David Hanson, is reported in Parliament Today to have accused the Government of “failing in its organisation of the elections and failing to promote its flagship policy in an effective way.” He attributed the “appalling turnout” to the Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May’s insistence on the elections being rushed through despite the Home Office’s lack of expertise and engagement.

Mr Charles commented: “The Government was warned of the potential difficulties facing the elections at the time but went ahead regardless. In the event, the process was simply not administered properly.

“It’s very important that when candidates stand for election they do so within a well planned process which fully embraces the people they are aiming to serve.”