Wales

Low turnout in police and crime commissioner elections

The elections to appoint Wales' first police and crime commissioners (PCCs) have been marked by voter apathy.

The total number of votes was 344,213, a turnout of 14.9%.

Sources said there was a polling station in Newport where no votes were cast in the election for Gwent Police commissioner.

The Electoral Commission has said it will investigate the low turnout across England and Wales. The prime minister said PCCs had a mandate.

As these are the first commissioner elections direct comparisons are not possible, but turnout is well below assembly and general elections.

The total turnout figure does not include spoilt papers. In South Wales alone, there were 4,456.

The head of the Electoral Commission in Wales, Kay Jenkins, said the low turnout would be of concern to anybody who cares about democracy.

The watchdog says it disagrees with a series of decisions by UK government.

The first result came from Dyfed-Powys, where Conservative Christopher Salmon won a two-horse race with Labour.

He won with a majority of 1,114 over former Labour Welsh assembly agriculture minister Christine Gwyther. The turnout was 16.4%.

In the North Wales Police area turnout was 14.8%, ranging from 12.24% in the Wrexham area to 17.85% on Anglesey.

Independent Winston Roddick, a barrister and former senior legal adviser to the Welsh assembly, won after a count of second-preference votes.

Turnout across Gwent was 14%. Newport council declined to name the polling station where no one voted, but BBC Wales understands it was in the Bettws ward.

Former police officer Ian Johnston, an independent candidate, beat the Labour challenger Hamish Sandison after the second preferences were counted.

The final result came in theSouth Wales Police area, served by Wales' biggest force, where former Labour minister Alun Michael beat independent candidate Michael Baker in a second round of counting.

Turnout across south Wales was 14.7%. Of the individual council areas, Merthyr Tydfil had the lowest turnout at 11.9% and the Vale of Glamorgan the highest at 19.62%.

There had been warnings about low turnout throughout the campaign for the elections.

Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that PCCs do have a mandate, and said: "Look, turnout was always going to be low when you are electing a new post for the first time.

"But remember, these police and crime commissioners are replacing organisations that weren't directly elected at all."

Stephen Brooks, director of the Electoral Reform Society in Wales, said: "With a projected all-Wales turn-out of around 15% it's clear that the Home Office failed to do its home work.

Former Police Minister Alun Michael, the Labour candidate in south Wales, said the way the elections had been set up had been a "disgrace."

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Media captionThe BBC's Hywel Griffith said that at one polling station in Newport no votes were cast

Caerphilly MP Wayne David tweeted that after verification in his constituency, "some ballot boxes had no votes in them".

Voters went to the polls on Thursday when elections were held in all parts of England and Wales outside London.

The newly-created commissioners, who replace unelected police authorities, will have the power to set budgets and appoint chief constables. They will not be responsible for day-to-day operations.

The supplementary vote system was used where there were more than two candidates, with voters marking the ballot paper with a first and second choice of candidate.

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