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Home Secretary Theresa May defends PCC despite low turnout

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 21, 2012

Tony Hogg

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Home Secretary Theresa May has insisted elected police commissioners have a "democratic mandate" despite an embarrassingly low turnout at the polls.

Just over 15% of the electorate cast their vote last Thursday in the first ever round of elections for police chiefs in each force area outside of London. The previous record low in a national poll in peacetime was 23% in the 1999 European elections.

In Devon and Cornwall, Conservative Tony Hogg, a former naval base commander, swept to power.

In Avon and Somerset, independent Sue Mountstevens secured a massive majority and independent candidate Martyn Underhill clinched the post in Dorset.

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In Home Office Questions in the House of Commons yesterday, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper questioned the timing and organisation of the elections, which will cost the taxpayer around £75 million.

She said: "She chose to hold them in November, to get the Home Office to run them and to deny the public proper information."

Ms Cooper added: "She has to take some responsibility for the shambles that she has created. People didn't want these elections last week. They said it was a waste of money, they said they didn't know anything about it, they objected to the policy and they didn't want to vote in the dark. She didn't listen to those warnings."

But Secretary of State Mrs May said: "I make no apology for introducing police and crime commissioners who have a democratic mandate.

"For the first time, the public know there is somebody who has been elected, who is visible, accessible and accountable to the public. They replaced invisible, unaccountable, unelected police authorities. I think police and crime commissioners are going to make a real difference in cutting crime in this country."

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