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Election day arrives as Cornwall and Devon vote for first Police and Crime Commissioner

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

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Westcountry voters go to the polls today for landmark police and crime commissioner elections that will shape the future of policing in the region.

Ten candidates, the most of any of the 41 elections nationwide, are fighting for the new £85,000-a-year post in Devon and Cornwall which is replacing the old police authority. All the main parties are represented, along with six independent candidates.

The powerful new commissioner, who will be elected for four years, will set the policing budget and agenda in the two counties and will be able to "hire and fire" the chief constable.

However, opponents have voiced fears about the possible politicisation of the police service and complaints about the shambolic handling of the election were still being made on the eve of the ballot.

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Labour claimed yesterday that public awareness of the election remained low and blamed a lack of information from Government. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the timing of the elections in November, during dark and cold weather, rather than in May, would make it harder for people to vote.

"The Government, as well as choosing to have the elections in November when they could have waited until May, have simply not provided people with proper information," she said.

"So when we are going around the streets talking to people, lots of people are saying, 'I just don't know what this is or what it is about'.

"They even set up a helpline that supposedly you could ring up and get information from, but that has not been working. So it has been a bit of a shambles."

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said the commissioners would have a "really important" role and the Government had wanted to get the elections underway as quickly as possible.

"I think it is really important that people know a figurehead, a name of a person that they can turn to when they are concerned about crime and antisocial behaviour in their area. They want to know why the police are costing money on their council tax bill," he said. "This is somebody who will be directly accountable to them for the very first time."

More than 1,375 polling stations will be open across Devon and Cornwall until 10pm tonight.

The election is being held using the supplementary vote system. If no candidate has 50 per cent of the first-preference votes, the two highest-ranked candidates go forward to a second round.

In the second round of counting, the ballots indicating a first preference for a candidate who lost the first round are then re-allocated according to the voter's second preference.

The count is taking place at Carn Brea, in West Cornwall, tomorrow, with the result expected to be announced during the evening.

Read more from Exeter Express and Echo

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  • CallingtonFox  |  November 16 2012, 1:00AM

    by Lafrowda Friday, November 16 2012, 12:34AM "A substantial deposit is needed to stand. I and many others could not afford it. Simples." Fair point, £5,000. You get it back if you poll more than 5% of the vote but unless you can get sponsorship or have some 'spare cash' you would be pretty much stuffed.

  • Lafrowda  |  November 16 2012, 12:34AM

    A substantial deposit is needed to stand. I and many others could not afford it. Simples.

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  • CallingtonFox  |  November 15 2012, 11:22PM

    Paddy Trembath wrote: "There is also the problem that might arise if everyone chose to stand, the Ballot papers would be the size of "War and Peace", the Ballot boxes would have to be remade out of converted skips, and who would be left to do the counting?" lol, very true. I was really making the point that is alright for people to moan but it is a bit rich when they could stand if they wanted to. Most people would be eligible to stand and if they were to be elected then they would, in this case, receive a not insubstantial salary

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  • eu_blues  |  November 15 2012, 11:16PM

    The new Police and Commissioner's will take over that role but, as you can see, will be directly elected by the people who's area they serve. CallingtonFox I'm glad you have such a trust in the system. And you honestly think that the newly elected people's Commissioner will be for the people? Its just another highly costly exercise in cost. The day to day running of all police forces regarding usual policing will stay as they were with the Chief Constable (under the home office) will hold sway."CallingtonFox The Chief Constable should be doing what the new Commissioner is going to be elected to do. There's no need for any of this whatsoever. But as usual, its us taxpayers who will suffer ultimately. What mugs we are...

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  • PaddyTrembath  |  November 15 2012, 11:11PM

    josdave wrote:- "This whole excercise has been a waste of time and public money. As for making the police more accountable I'll believe that when I see it. It's become a political thing which should be completely divorced from police matters and for that reason alone I will not be voting." You disagree with this whole exercise, then why not tell them that. By refusing to vote, all you are telling people is that you don't care about it. Writing elegant posts on sites such as this will tell them nothing, they, the establishment, are only concerned with the results of the election, with who got the most votes. Imagine how they would react if the most votes cast were for "Spoiled Papers", that WOULD tell them something, that WOULD make them sit up and take notice. CallingtonFox wrote:- "With respect, if you feel that the candidates who stand are not representing you, then why should you stand back and just moan, why not stand yourself? Why let others do all the standing-up to be counted?" Good idea, but just a couple of points, Not everyone is in a position to be able to stand for public office, they may not be able to devote the time necessary to carry out the required duties, they may not be financially in a position to take up such roles, they may feel that they do not have the ability to effectively carry out such an undertaking, they may even be unqualified, (as many found out in this election, they were disqualified from standing due to a minor discretion in their youth). There is also the problem that might arise if everyone chose to stand, the Ballot papers would be the size of "War and Peace", the Ballot boxes would have to be remade out of converted skips, and who would be left to do the counting?

    |   2
  • williaia2  |  November 15 2012, 10:59PM

    The first time in my life I've not voted. Another meaningless imported idea from America. Why would I want someone living in Gloucestershire, Somerset, Bristol or Devonshire representing me in Cornwall?!

    |   3
  • CallingtonFox  |  November 15 2012, 10:31PM

    eu_blues, currently the police forces are overseen by non-directly elected committees. They are meant to make sure the forces act upon local issues and will all be eligible to claim expenses and other payments. The new Police and Commissioner's will take over that role but, as you can see, will be directly elected by the people who's area they serve. The day to day running of all police forces regarding usual policing will stay as they were with the Chief Constable (under the home office) will hold sway.

  • eu_blues  |  November 15 2012, 9:53PM

    @ CallingtonFox Sorry, but do we really need a powerful new commissioner in the first place. This is just another postion which will be filled by a highly paid "figurehead." More of the peasent tax will be diverted towards keeping a figurehead commissioner that costs us a fortune in tax. "I think it is really important that people know a figurehead, a name of a person that they can turn to when they are concerned about crime and antisocial behaviour in their area. They want to know why the police are costing money on their council tax bill," he said. "This is somebody who will be directly accountable to them for the very first time." This is Cornwall So, we need a "figurehead commissioner to turn to when when we're concerned about crime etc. . . What's wrong with turning to the Police in general when being concerned about crime. Do we need a very expensive commissioner to do what the Police should be doing, connecting with the public. " They want to know why the police are costing money on their council tax bill" This is Cornwall Don't worry. The figurehead commissioner will cost EVEN MORE MONEY for the taxpayer overtime.

  • CallingtonFox  |  November 15 2012, 9:01PM

    by eu_blues Thursday, November 15 2012, 8:39PM "then why not stand yourself?" CallingtonFox What good will that do? Absolutely nothing. Your damned if you do, and damned if you don't." With respect, if you feel that the candidates who stand are not representing you, then why should you stand back and just moan, why not stand yourself? Why let others do all the standing-up to be counted?

    |   1
  • eu_blues  |  November 15 2012, 8:39PM

    then why not stand yourself?" CallingtonFox What good will that do? Absolutely nothing. Your damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

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