Concern over turnout as commissioners chosen
CONCERNS have been raised about how few people went to the ballot box to elect new police commissioners.
Just 15.2 per cent of those eligible actually voted in the South Wales Police election, which saw Labour candidate Alun Michael win the powerful new job, while in Dyfed-Powys a turnout of 16.4 per cent saw Conservative Christopher Salmon win.
The newly elected commissioners will control the budgets for their forces, decide policing priorities and have the power to hire and fire chief constables.
Kay Jenkins, from poll watchdog the Electoral Commissioner Wales, said: "The low turnout at the police and crime commissioner elections is a concern for everyone who cares about democracy.
"These were new elections taking place at an unfamiliar time of year, and we need a thorough review to find out the reason why people did not vote."
The elections for across Wales and England were estimated to have cost between £75 million and £100 million.
The new commissioners will take charge on November 22, when the existing police authorities — the bodies which currently oversee the workings of police forces — are abolished.
The UK Government championed the new posts saying they would make police forces more accountable to communities they serve, but opponents have warned of the dangers of introducing party politics into policing.
The Welsh Local Government Association, which represents councils in Wales, said it was disappointed at the turnout.
Chief executive Steve Thomas said: "While no-one would argue that the police should be held to account, this process has failed to engage voters in either Wales or England, and even with £100 million being spent, people were simply not convinced that they needed an elected police and crime commissioner in the first place."