Sir Ian Blair tells Sky News that people should not vote in next month’s Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
The former Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair has encouraged people not to vote for Police and Crime Commissioners next month.
Sir Ian said the posts as designed were “very strange” because the police areas were too big for any individual to properly represent.
And amid fears turnout for the November polls could hit record lows, he told the Sky News Murnaghan programme he would recommend voters not to bother.
He said: “I’ve never said this before but I actually hope people don’t vote because that is the only way we are going to stop this.”
“I’ve always been someone who says vote.”
Voters across England and Wales are due to go to the polls on November 15 to elect a Police and Crime Commissioner for each force area.
The Government has faced criticism for holding the elections in winter and not making enough efforts to publicise the elections and failing to offer candidates a free mail shot with their policies.
Sir Ian’s comments come after a former senior police officer told Sky News that rank-and-file officers have serious concerns about the role and powers of Police and Crime Commissioners.
David Anthony, who was a Chief Superintendent with Greater Manchester Police, said that ex-colleagues were “really worried” ahead of next month’s elections.
Policing Minister Damian Green says PCCs are ‘a democratic voice’
Â This week the full list of candidates – who do not need to have policing experience – in the running to be PCCs in England and Wales will be published.
Mr Anthony said his former colleagues had “just seen their pay and conditions changed, their pension arrangements change; some of them are now going to have to work for an additional five years”.
“They’re seeing police numbers cut, they’re seeing their back office changing out of all recognition, they’re seeing their police staff colleagues made redundant and now they’re reading and seeing that Police Commissioners are coming in on six-figure salaries, some with no policing experience whatsoever, to actually be in charge of them,” he said.
“And they’re asking the question ‘what value can they add when they’ve never been involved in policing?’
“The elected commissioner by very nature will be a political appointment. Policing in this country has valued itself on being by consent and free from political bias. This is a major step towards actual political interference.”
The idea of having directly elected individuals to oversee policing was a key part of the Conservative manifesto at the last general election.
Currently Chief Constables have to answer to their local Police Authority. The new PCCs will replace those authorities.
Every PCC will be required to swear an oath of impartiality before taking office. The role of the PCCs will be to decide priorities and budgets for police forces.
Policing Minister Damian Green said that PCCs would not be in charge of police operations.
He said: “What they are is a democratic voice so for the first time people will be able to vote for someone to represent their views on how their street should be policed, what sort of attitude they should take to antisocial behaviour, drug dealing, all those sorts of things that really worry people in their local area.”
The Electoral Reform Society is predicting this election will see the lowest voter turnout of modern times. In a report entitled How Low Can You Go the society projects just 18.5% of people will register a vote.
It blames the Home Office for not giving people enough information on the elections.
It also says that winter elections have significantly lower turnout than those held in the summer.
The report also highlights “unrealistic eligibility rules”, which it says could block some strong independent candidates.
Independent candidates are also hampered by a lack of funding and other party resources.
The report said an extremely low turnout “could unfairly advantage extremist candidates who would never succeed in winning over a bigger proportion of the electorate”.
Former Met Police Boss Says ‘Don’t Vote’