With just three weeks to go today until the election for the new Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), we ask the questions: do you really know what it’s all about? And why is it important to vote?
If the answer to one or both of these questions is no, then this article will give you all the information you need, from the role of a Police and Crime Commissioner, to the election process, to where you can find the most up-to-date information.
Encouraging you to read this article, and to find out as much as possible about the election (one of many happening across the country), is John Hill, the Police Area Returning Officer for the Cambridgeshire PCC elections, who said: “It’s incredibly important that voters understand what the Police and Crime Commissioner does and why it’s so important for them to turn out to vote on the 5th May. It’s hoped that this information will help voters to feel more confident about the process, and to feel more informed when marking their votes.”
How often are Police and Crime Commissioners elected?
Police and Crime Commissioners are elected by the public every 4 years with the next election taking place on Thursday 5th May 2016. Police and Crime Commissioners first came into being in November 2012 and while more people are aware of the role, there are still many who ask “what does a Police and Crime Commissioner do?” and “why are they relevant to me?”
The following paragraphs attempt to answer these questions and provide some information about the candidates and the election process.
What does a Police and Crime Commissioner do?
Police and Crime Commissioners have responsibility for delivering an efficient and effective police service in their area. They set police and crime objectives, the police budget and issue grants to tackle crime and disorder. They are elected by the public to hold Chief Constables and the force to account, making the police answerable to the communities they serve.
Within this broad remit, there are many specific duties they must carry out. Some of the key ones are as follows:
- Commissioners are responsible for the financial management of the police service in their county. All police funding goes to the Commissioner. How the money is allocated is down to the Commissioner in consultation with the Chief Constable.
- Part of police funding comes from the council tax, and Commissioners are responsible for setting the policing part of the council tax and justifying any annual changes.
- Commissioners must publish a Police and Crime Plan which sets local police and crime objectives. It is written in consultation with the Chief Constable and is informed by partners priorities and public input.
- Commissioners represent the public, not the police. They ensure the police are accountable to the public by listening to people’s concerns and making sure that these concerns are effectively responded to by the police.
- They must hold the Chief Constable to account, on behalf of the public, in providing an effective police service, meeting the objectives set out in the Police and Crime Plan. The Commissioner must scrutinise, support and challenge the overall performance of the force. The Commissioner requests official reports on different areas of crime and policing to ensure the Constabulary are on top of all the issues.
- They hire and, if necessary, fire the Chief Constable.
- They must explore opportunities to work in collaboration with other police forces and with a range of other agencies to seek ways of improving effectiveness and efficiency, thereby providing better value for the taxpayer.
- They award crime and disorder reduction grants to support the police in reducing crime at a local or county level.
- They provide services to help and support victims of crime cope and recover from their experience.
- They do not run the police force. Chief Constables continue to be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the police, but they are accountable to the public via the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Why are Police and Crime Commissioners relevant to me?
The first police service was established by Sir Robert Peel in 1829. Peel stated that the power of the police to fulfil their duties is dependent on public approval and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
This principle is as true today as it was then. Police and Crime Commissioners have a duty to ensure the police work with integrity and professionalism so that the public can trust and respect them.
Commissioners are there to represent the public. They are not there to represent the police. They hold the police to account on your behalf.
Both Commissioners and the police have a duty to listen to people’s views on crime and policing in order to understand local concerns. This enables Commissioners to produce a police and crime plan that is relevant to the local community and that responds to local community needs.
The police are there to serve you. You pay for the police service through council tax. It is important that you vote for a Commissioner that you feel will best represent you; the person you feel will listen to your concerns and ensure those concerns are responded to. The person that will hold the police to account and provide service you want to see.
The choice of Police and Crime Commissioner is up to you.
In Cambridgeshire there are four candidates:
- Jason David Ablewhite – Conservative Party
- Dave Baigent – Labour Party
- Nick Clarke – UK Independence Party (UKIP)
- Rupert Moss-Eccardt – Liberal Democrats
You can see what each of the four candidates have to say at:
The election timetable - key dates
Last day to register to vote Monday 18th April
Last day to apply for a postal vote Tuesday 19th April
Last day to apply for a proxy vote Tuesday 26th April
Polling day Thursday 5th May
Sir Graham Bright’s final day in post Wednesday 11th May
New Commissioner’s first day in post Thursday 12th May
The voting process
In this Police and Crime Commissioner election, you can vote for a first and second choice of who you want to win. The ballot paper will list the four candidates standing in your area. Next to the list of candidates, there will be two columns.
You will be asked to vote for your first choice candidate by marking a cross (X) in the first choice column and vote for your second choice candidate by marking a cross (X) in the second choice column. As long as you mark one cross in the first choice column, your vote can be counted.
For more information about the voting process, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzb8uRVsplI&feature=youtu.be
Once voting has closed, the first choices are counted and if a candidate has received more than 50% of the votes cast, they will be elected.
If no candidate has more than 50% of the votes, all candidates apart from those in first and second place are eliminated.
The ballot papers showing a first preference for the eliminated candidates are checked for their second preference. Any second preference votes for the two remaining candidates are then added to the candidates’ first preference votes and the candidate with the most votes wins.
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