Two important elections in 2021!

What a year we have had since the last elections in December 2020.  Brexit done, 12 months to sort out a trade deal, and of course the Covid-19 virus taking loved ones from us, separating us from others, and severely disrupting our lives and freedoms.    We all have our views on how this government and our councils have done in the last year but it will probably be four years before we can express this in a ballot.   However, we only have to wait till May before we can vote at all.

6th May 2021 will see extensive elections across England, not least as last May’s elections were postponed and will be run with those already due.  This significantly raises the number of seats to be elected.  It will be our first chance to send any sort of message to our political masters after all that has happened.

However,  there are other important elections taking place across England and Wales on the same dayincluding those for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC’s). Locally this for the Hampshire and IOW Police Force area.   One of the biggest in the country.   It covers 2m people, probably about 1.5m voters, and 20 parliamentary constituencies.  Historically, interest is in these elections is low, and if the vote is a stand alone one, turnout can be as poor as about 15%.   It is higher if combined with other elections as it will be in 2021.   Low interest is a shame as these are important elections and elect to an important and influential position.   So why is interest so low?  Is it because people do not know what the PCC does?

So what do PCC’s do?   Most importantly they are the voice of the people with the Police. A bridge between the electorate and the Chief Constable. They are responsible for setting the budget and deciding on local priorities for how it is used.  They have an accountability and oversight role to ensure the Chief Constable delivers on the local priorities that have been agreed.  They have a responsibility to support victims, and to agree and enact strategies that will reduce crime locally.  (The Chief Constable remains responsible for operational issues and decisions).  Finally, they are responsible for appointing a new Chief Constable and in certain circumstances dismissing the current one.

So why vote?  Well if you want a voice on which are the most important priorities for your police, including how we tackle, say drug problems, county lines, and organised crime, or anti-social behaviour in your locality, then it is important to vote.  I would argue you should look at the literature of each candidate, and if they are standing for a party, then consider the record of that party over recent years, and whether their claims add up.   Finally, look at the character, experience, and expertise of the candidates.  Ask yourself: Who could do the job?   Who would I trust with my police force?  Who will best be my voice on crime?   Who will be best able to help reduce crime?  But most importantly – GO AND VOTE!   It encourages them to listen to you.

Uniquely, these elections feature a ‘Supplementary Vote System’.  This means that all voters get a first and second choice.   If no candidate secures more than 50% of the vote on the first ballot there is a run off between the top two with the secondary votes of the eliminated candidates transferring to their second choice. This is the third time these elections have been held.  Locally, in 2016 the Tory candidate won with Labour second following a run off ballot.  In 2012 an independent candidate won after a run off.  As both elections went to the second round, it shows the value and importance of indicating both a first and second preference.

 

 

For more info on the role and responsibilities of the PCC see:

 

https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/police-forces/working-with-others/pcc/role-of-police-and-crime-commissioners/       and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?fbclid=IwAR1pFB96YCcn553Q32eHgUNtvtiH9HO92hljt2NnDNEAUXxVhxjfcUF_cjk&v=A1XJ2RJNuIU&feature=youtu.be

 

For information on the Supplementary Vote System see:

 

https://www.gov.uk/elections-in-the-uk/police-and-crime-commissioner

 

 

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