UK & World News
Record Low Turnout In Police Commissioner Polls
Dire turnouts have threatened to undermine the first ever police and crime commissioner elections, with as few as 10% of voters casting their ballots in some areas.
The Electoral Reform Society branded the elections a "comedy of errors" after a record low turnout left at least one polling station - in the Newport area - completely unused.
It said it could end up being the lowest voter turnout ever in peacetime history.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the elections for the new commissioners had descended in to a shambles, with many voters taking to Twitter to describe the low turnout at their polling stations.
A UKIP MEP, John Bufton, even called for Home Secretary Theresa May to resign for presiding over a "shamefully low turnout".
In Wiltshire, the first force area to declare, the overall turnout was 15.8% as Tory candidate Angus Macpherson, a magistrate, won after a second round of voting ahead of Labour's Clare Moody.
But in one part of Wiltshire, Devizes, only 10.41% of voters took part.
Polling stations elsewhere across the country appeared to be equally as quiet as many people opted not to vote for the first generation of PCCs, despite about £75m being spent on the campaign.
Newport City Council confirmed to Sky News that no voters attended one of its polling stations, despite it being open for 15 hours from 7am to 10pm on Thursday.
Elsewhere, turnout was 11.42% in Wigan, 12% in Rochdale, 12.59% in Oldham and 12.49% in Manchester. For Greater Manchester as a whole it was 13.46%.
In Essex, just 12.81%% of voters took to the polls.
Even in Humberside, where Lord Prescott's name on the ballot paper raised the profile of the election, turnout was only 19.48%.
Sky's election analyst Michael Thrasher said the low turnout was "hardly surprising" given the elections were held in dark and chilly November "for an office that no-one has heard of" across unfamiliar police authority areas.
He said the numbers raised questions over the legitimacy of the office and those elected.
Mr Thrasher, a professor of politics at Plymouth University, added that it could end up costing as much as £13 per vote that was cast.
"When you work out how much it's going to cost per vote it becomes quite ridiculous," he said.
But policing minister Damian Green defended the turnout, saying it would improve in years to come.
He told Sky News: "I think it's likely with something new coming on that people will take time to get used to it.
"But I'm absolutely sure they will get used to it in the future and the measure of the success will be the difference they make to policing over the next few years."
Prime Minister David Cameron insisted police commissioners would have a mandate despite the low turnout.
He added: "Remember, these police and crime commissioners are replacing organisations that weren't directly elected at all."
Elections for the new office have been held in 41 police areas outside London.
The newly-elected police and crime commissioner will have the power to control budgets, set policing priorities, and hire and fire chief constables.
The Electoral Reform Society had predicted a turnout of 18.5% before the polls began, which would be below the previous record low in a national poll in peacetime - 23% in the 1999 European elections.
The society's chief executive, Katie Ghose, said: "This election has been a comedy of errors from start to finish.
"The Home Office has operated under the assumption that 'if you build it they will come'. Democracy just doesn't work that way.
"There have been avoidable errors at every step, and those responsible should be held to account."
One of the biggest problems has been that people are not prepared to put a cross beside the name of someone they know little, if anything, about.
Glenda Adcock from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk said she always votes, but not this time.
"I know nothing about the candidates or anything really so I'm not bothering," she said,
And while Bernard Jennings had decided he would take part, he agreed the information had been poor.
"I think they could have done a lot more to help people out so you have a better understanding of what everyone stands for," he said.
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what do you think?
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No way was I going to vote for a unknown person to be a crime commissioner. (fat paycheck), when it is the police who know how to run the police not some Councillor. Too much americanesee moving into my town
Now let us have a vote on staying or leaving Europe - the polling stations will be overwhelmed. Come on David, listen to the voters.
Why do the arrogant ones assume that a vote will go their way?
No way that will happen Alec - all 3 mainstream parties have promised that, all 3 have reneged afterwards!
The Yanks wouldn't let us leave the EU, we are their veto in Europe, we are a vassal state of the USA.
I don't know anyone who wants the post of Police commissioner created, the gobsmiths just think it is clever to copy the Yanks, and maybe a nice little earner for ex-politicos. They are closing libraries and swimming pools up here to save money and squandering millions on this and other follies.
75 million apparently John. I wonder how many libraries and swimming pools could have remained open with that? I wonder what other deserving schemes would have benefitted from a share of these squandered millions.
What a waste of money.
I'm curious to know how much per vote it equates to. 75 million divided by an all time low turnout.?
According to the article £13 per vote.
Not only a waste of money, not only a slavish 'idea' of 'follow the american way' but a nice little number for a new layer of bureaucrats at £80,000 a year. Nice work if you can get it.
Across the country households are being crippled by extortionate fuel and energy prices, thats where the population want to see some government action not throwing money away on pointless elections for a post no one is interested in.
Complete waste of money.
I did my duty and did not vote for any of the above . If it ain't broke leave it alone.
A sham election by the Tories in their attempts to politicise the police.
Dave. Do you think the police authorities of the local councils who were in charge previously are non partisan ? None of the political parties should have been allowed to field candidates to avoid just that possibility
What did they expect? You shouldn't have to vote for who runs your police force,that is a decision that the home office should make. Where I live we don't even have a superintendent ,we have a chief inspector overseeing several stations.
Correct I dont think it can all be blamed on apathy, many people Ive talked to knew the polls were happening but disagreed with the very concept Incidentally its a bit rich of UKIP to call upon Theresa May to resign over this. She may be blamed for many things but the last time I looked voting is not compulsory!
Commissioner gordon was forever on the bat fone. holy waste of time and tax payers money. the money wasted would be better spent on border controll . its one big joke
More jobs for the pld boys at pur expense.
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Us monkeys are paying for this load of tripe. Millions spent on jobsworth jobs for the girls. Disgraceful. Worse than dole scroungers.
I want to see the police de-politcised not burdened with another layer of political red tape. When politicians start to be prosecuted and jailed for their crimes THEN I will start having faith in our criminal justice system again until it happens whatever they do is just window dressing - smoke and mirrors!
I've been getting ripped off by successive British governments since 1956; in my parents case since 1924!
Cameron insists the vote has legitimacy - funny how his government is considering a law for trade union ballots to have 50% to have 'legitimacy' when they have 30% turnouts. If he followed THAT logic, the vast majority of MPs would not be sitting in Parliament working out ways to fiddle their expenses or receiving money for directorships in company boardrooms.
what a compleate waste of time and our money setting this up .Who are we meant to be voting for ? never had any details of who and what the people are who we are meant to vote for .WHY DONT THE POLICE JUST GET ON WITH POLICING , IM SURE THEY WOULD.?
A mandate for policing on party lines, don't think the impartiality oath will make any difference, PCC's will allways look to see which side their bread is buttered.
I think that the problem is that most of the candidates are affiliated to the main political parties. Nobody wants self-serving politicians telling police officers what to do. They are not qualified for that job.