This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Independents' Day

The early big story of the PCC elections was the turnout which was shockingly low, lower than many commentators predicted. (Although I had my secret PCC being proud of his 15.1% turnout back in September). The authors of this policy dismissed concerns about turnout as the early teething problems you 'always' get with a new electoral role and it was all the fault of the Lib Dems anyway for wanting the election in November. This story will run, especially as the Electoral Commission are conducting a review. However, I reckon it will not run and run...

But what I did not see coming was the number of candidates running on an independent ticket being elected. I got my prediction well and truly wrong. Although, perhaps where the indies did get it right was in promotion of some radical ideas, as I was urging in the same article. I will be interested to see how (Kent's) Anne Barnes' Youth Commissioner works out, for example.

But let's run through the independents who were elected.
  • Avon & Somerset: Sue Mountstevens. Ex magistrate, business woman and ran on "and no party politics!" ticket. (Turnout: 18.77% | 35.81% of first preference votes | Second: Ken Maddock Party: Con 24.35% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 6.7%
  • Dorset: Martyn Underhill: Ex police officer, charity trustee and college lecturer. Ran on no politics in policing ticket. (Turnout: 16.34% | 45.16% of first preference votes | Second: Nick King Party: Con | 32.41% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 7.4%)
  • Gloucestershire: Martin Surl. Ex police officer and against further police station closures. Also ran on the "party politics has no place in policing" ticket. (Turnout: 15.96% | 35.26% of first preference votes | Second: Victoria Atkins Party: Con 36.21% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 5.6%)
  • Gwent: Ian Johnston. Ex police officer and former President of the Superintendents Association. Will "work... without political interference" (Turnout: 13.97% | 39.64% of first preference votes | Second: Hamish Sandison Party: Lab | 38.89% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 5.5%)
  • Hampshire: Simon Hayes. Ex police authority (former Chair) and currently chairs local Crimestoppers. Stood "free of Party political pressure or obligation" (Turnout: 14.53% | 22.48% of first preference votes | Second: Michael Mates Party: Con 24.83% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 3.3%)
  • Kent: Ann Barnes. Ex police authority (immediate past Chair) and ex magistrate. Will keep "party politics out of police". (Turnout: 15.99% | 46.8% of first preference votes | Second: Craig Mackinlay Party: Con 25.22% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 7.5%)
  • Lincolnshire: Alan Hardwick. Ex police authority employee (Marketing & Media officer) and former TV journalist. Ran with "absolutely no political agendas". (Turnout: 15.28% | 31.37% of first preference votes | Second: David Bowles Party: Other 32.66% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 4.8%)
  • Norfolk: Stephen Bett. Ex police authority (immediate past Chair) and cites 16 years of PA membership. Believes in "keeping party politics out of policing". (Turnout: 14.51% | 28.66% of first preference votes | Second: Jamie Athill Party: Con 31.74% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 4.2%)
  • North Wales: Winston Roddick. Ex police officer, former QC and Wales’ first Counsel General. Ran on being a "commissioner who can act independently of political interference". (Turnout: 14.83% | 33.07% of first preference votes | Second: Tal Michael Party: Lab 29.67% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 4.9%)
  • Surrey: Kevin Hurley. Ex police officer, reservist army officer and involved in rebuilding policing in Iraq. Strictly speaking not an independent but ran on "Zero Tolerance Policing ex Chief" ticket. (Turnout: 15.36% | 26.12% of first preference votes | Second: Julie Iles Party: Con 26.13% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 4.0%)
  • Warwickshire: Ronald Ball. Ex magistrate, former national executive member for the British Airline Pilots Association and commercial airline pilot. Party politics should be kept at "arms length". (Turnout: 15.23% | 33.3% of first preference votes | Second: James Plaskitt Party: Lab 34.7% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 5.1%)
  • West Mercia: Bill Longmore. Ex police officer, businessman and award winning community work.  He declared that he is "not a politician but a man of the people". (Turnout: 14.54% | 37.75% of first preference votes | Second: Adrian Blackshaw Party: Con 36.56% of first preference votes | 'Approval rating' 5.5%)
All the voting data has been taken from the Guardian DataBlog and the results confirmed by the Home Office site. The 'Approval rating' is my own creation and comprises the multiplication of the turnout by the percentage of first preference votes cast. It is a crude measure of what percentage of the voting population gave their first vote to the winning candidate.

So what do we have?
  • 12 out of the 41 PCCs are independent of the main political parties.
  • 6 are ex police officers, 3 are ex police authority / employee and 2 are ex magistrates.
  • 6 won on both first and second prefernces, the other 6 came second in first round
  • 8 beat Conservatives into second place, with 3 Labour came second and in Lincs it was a contest between two people not in major parties in the final count
I am cautious about drawing any hard conclusions from this, but here goes:
  • Being ex police in some way made all the difference in support and might explain why in other areas the indies did not succeed (either because the Labour or Tory who did, had substantial 'legs' in policing / crime worlds or because the indies on offer did not). But this needs further investigation.
  • The Conservatives set out on this policy hoping for notable local figures to represent local people saying that it should not be about party politics. In a way, they got their wish.
  • The independents 'stole' PCC positions off mainly Tories.
Now we await to see how these independents remain above party politics, especially as they are confronted by a highly political Home Office & MoJ and local police and crime panels made up of local politicians. 

In the absence of party support & allegiance, these indies might find the job of being PCC even tougher. Equally they may feel more liberated and free to really focus on what local people need and want the police to do than their party counterparts. 


  1. Bill Chapman21/11/12 09:36

    In North Wales Winston Roddick claimed to be Independent and harvested the votes which resulted from that position. In fact it turns out he was a Liberal Democrat all along.

    1. I am aware of this. I have a simple view that in any political election, if you are a card carrying member of a political party then that should appear on the ballot paper. This counts for all local and national elections.