Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner vote 'shambles' defended
HOME Secretary Theresa May has defended the handling of police and crime commissioner elections amid accusations of a 'shambles' following the low turnout, which was just 15 per cent in Devon and Cornwall.
The Tory Cabinet Minister admitted to being 'disappointed' at the number of people who had voted, but insisted the new office-holders had a "democratic mandate" who would make a "real difference" to cutting crime.
She was responding to calls by Labour to apologise over the timing and organisation of the elections which saw an average turnout of about 15 per cent nationally.
Critics argue the Government failed to give the public enough information about the new role and the candidates, along with the poll being held in November's dark and cold conditions.
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Holding separate ballots this month, rather than at the same time as council elections in May also saw the cost soar by £25 million to £75 million, at a time of police cutbacks.
A detailed inquiry has been ordered by the Electoral Commission into the low turnout.
Speaking during Commons Home Office questions, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper questioned the timing and organisation of the elections. Ms Cooper said: "She chose to hold them in November, to get the Home Office to run them and to deny the public proper information. 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."
The Secretary of State said: "Of course I am disappointed in the turnout. I make no apology for introducing police and crime commissioners who have a democratic mandate. 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."
Conservative Tony Hogg, a former naval commander, was elected Devon and Cornwall's first PCC.