Low voter turnout feared for first Hampshire police commissioner election

VOTING A polling station in Wimborne Road, Southsea. Picture: Allan Hutchings (123723-1)
VOTING A polling station in Wimborne Road, Southsea. Picture: Allan Hutchings (123723-1)
A file photo of police

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TURNOUT for the first ever police and crime commissioner is feared to be poor.

The public took to the polls throughout yesterday to vote for the new role, which is being contested by six candidates in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

But concerns that the vote has failed to capture the public’s imagination appear to have been realised.

Candidates for the controversial £85,000-a-year job are Lib Dem David Goodall, Don Jerrard of the Justice and Anti-Corruption Party, Labour’s Jacqui Rayment, Tory candidate Michael Mates, Independent Simon Hayes and UKIP candidate Stephen West.

Linda Edwards, the returning officer for Gosport said: ‘The reports are it’s quiet. The media’s prediction has been that it’s going to be a low turnout and that seems to be confirmed by the reports so far.’

And Lindsey Ansell, from Fareham Borough Council, said: ‘It’s not been a great turnout, it has been pretty poor, definitely lower than for the local government elections in May.

‘But we have been having people coming in to the civic offices and asking about who the candidates are and where they’re from – a lot of people just don’t seen to know.’

It marks the biggest shake-up of police governance for almost 50 years and will spell the end for Hampshire Police Authority.

Instead of a 17-strong committee the commissioner, backed by a Police and Crime Panel, will be charged with key decisions including budget and local council tax precept setting.

He or she will also have powers to hire and fire the chief constable.

But top of the agenda will have to be the employment of a new top cop for Hampshire Constabulary after Chief Constable Alex Marshall announced his imminent departure to head up the new National College of Policing.

The commissioner also starts at a time when the cash-strapped force is trying to save up to £55m due to government spending cuts.

More than £37.5m of savings have already been identified, including shutting front desks and stations, sharing more services with neighbouring forces, staff redundancies and not replacing officers when they leave. But with more cuts on the way, tough challenges lie ahead.

The successful candidate, which was due to be announced today, will take office on November 22.