PCC elections: Getting people to the polls

It has been described by the Home office as "the most significant democratic reform of policing in our lifetime" but there have also been warnings that turnout in the elections for the police and crime commissioners could be the lowest in British history.

So whose job is it to get voters to the polls?

The Home Office recently launched a radio and TV campaign and for the first time a Twitter hashtag, #MyPCC, has been used to create online debate and provoke interest in the elections.

Local police authorities, soon to be replaced by the PCCs, are giving out details about candidates and the Electoral Commission has begun distributing booklets with information about the election itself.

But a spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said it was the responsibility of the parties and candidates themselves to give people a reason to vote.

'Numbers game'

Ros Baston, formerly of the Electoral Commission and an expert in election law, said the government's campaign, party databases and the time of year would all be essential in influencing voters.

Ms Baston said: "You can compare the public appetite for the PCCs with non-marginal council by-elections because it's new and the first of its kind.

"Evidence shows turnout is lower in bad weather and November is dark and wet so anyone other than die hard volunteers struggle to make the effort.

"The latter part of October will be crucial and candidates will concentrate on just getting the people they already know to the polls - it's a bit of a numbers game."

BBC News asked people in Birmingham if they planned to vote on 15 November.

Paul Winwood, 26, Hall Green

I think I would vote. I'm not 100% sure about the police and crime commissioners idea at the moment, but nearer the time I'll look more into it.

I think I'd want them to focus on getting more police on patrol although I know they're cutting back on money so I'm not sure how easy that would be.

Sarah Thomes, 23, Weoley Castle

I'd need to know more about the candidates but I would definitely want to vote.

I think there needs to be more understanding about the cuts being made to police forces. Having someone in that position means there would be more accountability for the budget.

Udaijolt Singh, 27, Wolverhampton

I would look into voting. I think they should focus on getting more bobbies on the beat again like there used to be. There are too many officers on the roads scouting for speeding drivers and not enough on the streets.

The new commissioner needs to build more public trust in the police, especially after Hillsborough and even the Stephen Lawrence case which both raised a lot of questions.

Neil Grimmett, 54, Handsworth

Whoever is elected should make sure police crack down more on petty crime committed in our area, they're too lenient at the moment.

I would probably vote but would need to do more research and look at the paperwork about the candidates nearer the time.

Adam Fletcher, 30, Jewellery Quarter

I'm not sure whether I'll vote as I'm not convinced by the whole concept of police and crime commissioners - I think it's another step towards creating city mayors.

However I do think more needs to be done about parts of Birmingham, like more patrolling of Broad Street on weekends and clamping down on day-time drinking in Victoria Square.

Janet Phillips, 66, Lower Quinton

I feel we ought to use the vote, but I plan to do so tactically as I do with general elections.

The police worry me and the recent revelations about the Hillsborough disaster has really brought it to the fore.

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