Vote, vote vote: Keeping out the people you definitely donít want running the police
If I could have it my way, there would be no traffic wardens across North London, hefty punishment for those who dare to push to the front of queues, and of course, a complete ban on tuneless singing in public places.
Of course, Iím unlikely to actually achieve these aims, but itís nice to wish nonetheless.
The reality is though, that pretty soon we will be able to vote for the people who will be regulating slightly more Ö er Ö serious crimes across the country. On 15th November 2012, the public will get a direct say in the delivery of local Police services for the first time, by electing Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). These PCCs will be responsible for a wide range of jobs, including engaging with local communities about their needs from the police force, writing plans to target crime in their jurisdictions, and holding the police forces to account.
Elections will be held in 41 Police Force areas across England and Wales Ė this does not include London, as the PCC for London is also the Mayor of London and was elected earlier this year. These Police Force areas are incredibly large, each incorporating several parliamentary constituencies, and the PCCs will have a high degree of local autonomy, to choose their own policies and regulate their own budgets.
This all sounds very nice, but simmering under the surface there may be a greater minefield than we can appreciate at first glance.
As with all elections, there is a chance of extremist candidates winning these important and responsible positions. Wherever there is low voter turnout, these candidates have a higher chance of success, as they can mobilise their core supporters, who will boost their vote considerably, as few other people bother to cast their ballot.
Unfortunately these elections are predicted to have incredibly low voter turnout, so this is where the community can play a huge part. There will be several far right candidates standing in these elections but as candidate lists are not yet complete we cannot currently confirm which areas are particularly problematic. But by simply turning up to vote, by making your friends and relatives do likewise, and by encouraging your community to take these elections seriously, you can make a tremendous difference to the results of these elections.
Moreover, this is not just of concern to the Jewish community. Many other faith and minority groups will be concerned at the possibility of having far-right campaigners in charge of their police forces. This is an ideal opportunity for your communities to work alongside other minority communities around you, and we would encourage you to run interfaith events or initiatives to gear people up to vote. It doesnít matter who you vote for, as long as you keep out the extremist candidates by reducing their proportion of the vote.
Many will be unfamiliar with the Supplementary Vote System which will be used in the PCC elections. Under this system, each voter selects their first and second choices. In the first round, only first choices are considered, and if no single candidate has a 50% majority, then the two highest achieving candidates move to a second round. In this second round, the second preferences for the disqualified candidates are redistributed, and whoever ends up with a majority wins the election.
Anyone who wants more information, or to discuss a specific area is, of course, welcome to call the Board. Whoever you vote for, please engage with these elections, and remember to vote on November 15th.
Donít worry, weíll keep reminding you Ö...