Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 3rd October 2012

You may well be aware that on November 15th, Police and Crime Commissioner elections are taking place across most of the country, including Sussex. Then again you may not, recent polls have shown that over half of voters remain unaware of the upcoming elections and very few have any idea what the role is for.

Experts are unfortunately predicting that turnout could well be a record low, this should be a cause for concern as low turnout elections only every tend to benefit extremists. There are a substantial number of reasons why a low turnout is being predicted but the real tragedy is it could easily have been avoided by the Government and potentially at a lower cost to the taxpayer.

Whether or not you believe elected Police Commissioners are a good idea, the reality is that from now on they will play a major role in how your local police service works. The fact that they will be earning almost £100,000 of taxpayers’ money should be reason alone to take an interest in who gets the job (frankly I find this size of salary disgusting at a time of frontline police cuts).

While most of the damage has now been done there are still several things the Government can do to prevent the November elections from being an utter farce:

Firstly, the Government should ensure that people hear what candidates have to say by allowing the Royal Mail to deliver one leaflet per candidate for free. This is what happens in Parliamentary elections, ensuring that every voter has the chance to hear from every candidate (without this most independents don’t stand a chance).

Secondly, the Government should permit party political broadcasts – just the same as at every other election – allowing each party to set out their policy positions. If nothing else this would help to explain to people exactly what Police Commissioners can actually do.

Our democracy is important and we need to do what we can to ensure that elections are fair. So let the Government know that they should do what they can to give other voters their say by visiting: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/how-not-to-run-an-election and please remember to vote this November, no matter who you vote for.

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