Women: choose your Police and Crime Commissioner
Last Friday the Home Office published the names and statements of the confirmed candidates for the imminent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections, which will be held on 15 November.
All the candidates, along with their 300 word statements can be seen on the new Choose My PCC website.
President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, has described the elections as “the biggest change to policing since 1829″.
Yet despite this there are real fears that knowledge of the upcoming elections is limited, and expected turnout is low.
The Electoral Reform Society has predicted a 18.5 per cent turnout, making it the lowest turnout of any nationwide election in British history.
This despite a TV advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness of the elections.
The 37 new PCC’s in England (along with 4 in Wales) will have responsibility for appointing and holding accountable Chief Constables, setting local policing priorities and deciding the annual Police Force budget.
They will hold a highly influential position that has the potential to affect our lives in a very real way.
The candidates are from mixed backgrounds, the largest group of candidates are those picked by the main political parties, with a third of candidates already holding elected office.
A quarter of the prospective PCCs have military or police backgrounds. Only 34 (17 per cent) of the candidates are women.
Women’s groups across England and Wales are encouraging women to use their vote, and highlighting the influence the new PCCs will have on women’s safety within their communities.
Many have written manifestos for the PCC candidates to sign up to.
These include suggested priorities for the police with regard to domestic violence, rape, prostitution and sexual harrassment, amongst others.
Many women’s organisations are also hosting PCC hustings, where voters will have the opportunity to question candidates.
One such event is being held by Coventry Women’s Voices (CWV) this Wednesday, October 31.
Mary-Ann Stephenson, from CWV, said: “The Police and Crime Commissioners will have a potentially huge impact on the way the police treat crimes against women and the funding of women’s services for victims and survivors of violence.
“Coventry Women’s Voices wants to make sure that all the candidates are informed of the needs and priorities of women in Coventry.”
As well as inviting women to the question time event to grill their local candidates, CWV have published a 7-point plan for the West Midlands PCC candidates to sign up to.
The people elected to the new PCC posts will affect all of us; their decisions will directly influence how our local communities are policed; they will decide where and how police money is spent. For those of us who are concerned about, or have been directly affected by, the policing of issues affecting women it is crucial that we inform ourselves, and make our voice heard in the elections next month.
I will be live-blogging for WVoN at the Question Time event this Wednesday evening between 7 – 9pm. Follow me and join in via the hashtag #covwomenpcc
Audio from the event here