Thursday, 8 November 2012

Police Elections - Home Office foul up means people don't know who they are voting for

Just about the only thing that's been said about the Police and Crime Commissioner election is how little people know about it.

The poll takes place next Thursday and, here in Devon and Cornwall there are ten candidates standing. Of these, four represent political parties and six describe themselves as independents.

Of course, I'm biased. I think that the Lib Dem candidate Brian Blake is the best qualified for the job. He's an ex copper and will bring a wealth of practical experience to the role.

But people will want to make their own mind up, so how can they do so?

Radio Cornwall have done a grand job - organising two hustings events which are being broadcast today. But with such a vast area covered by the election, the chances of getting leaflets through your door - particularly from the independents - is remote. Many people will go online - and all the candidates have websites - but what it you have no internet access?

The Home Office have set up a hotline with the number advertised on the information booklet that has been sent to every household. You are supposed to be able to call that number and be sent a print out of the candidate statements. Except that those who have tried this have yet to receive anything.

I've had a number of calls from local residents with postal votes who have asked for this information but not received it. They are getting very anxious about whether they will be able to vote at all if they don't feel confident that they know something about the candidates.

I've asked the council to look at this situation as a matter of urgency. Cornwall's Chief Executive, Kevin Lavery, took the role of chief returning officer over the objections of councillors. In doing so, he took on partial responsibility for making sure that people understand how they vote. Given the failure of the Home Office to get information out, I believe it falls on Mr Lavery to take action. It's not his fault that the Home Office have failed - but I think he should be picking up the pieces.

No comments: