Monday, September 10, 2012
Police Commissioner's Election Shambles
1. Serving magistrates are not allowed to stand, despite their highly relevant experience as a judge has ruled there would be a conflict of interest Details of the post can be found here.
2. We all know John Prescott is standing but it seems in a poll in May that even two years after they were proposed, less than 20% of respondents knew of the election or understood what the commissioners were intended to do. In reality they will hire and fire top policemen in the 41 police areas, establish local policing priorities and budgets and advise on council tax rates
3. Some candidates were disbarred from standing in consequence absurdly, of minor convictions when in their early teens.
4. The government has refused to send out information to voters about the candidates.
5. It has proved very difficult to find candidates prepared to run. Why? Well, apart from all the ignorance and muddle, they have to raise a deposit of £5000- ten times the amount required to stand for parliament- which will be lost if less than 5% of the vote is gained. Candidates for local council seats pay nothing by the way
6. The upper expenditure limit allowed on campaigns is extremely high- nearly a quarter of a million in Kent for example. Cash strapped candidates wonder how they will compete with well funded ones. However few local parties have the cash to play this particular game meaning the campaigns will be small scale and lack lustre.
7. The Electoral Reform Society has predicted- surely correctly, that turnout will be minuscule and the legitimacy of this brave new world of local police accountability will be slim to vanishing point.
How the American models for this exercise must be curling their lips in contempt at how the alleged home of 'The Mother of Parliaments' has messed this one up.