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UK Government blamed for poor turnout at PCC elections

06 May 2024 3 minute read
Outgoing Gwent PCC Jeff_Cuthbert

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

Outgoing police and crime commissioner Jeff Cuthbert has blamed a lack of support from the UK Government for the low turnout in last week’s elections.

Just 15.63 per cent of voters in Gwent cast a vote in the ballot to decide who should oversee the area’s police force and help agree its budget each year including the amount local households should pay through the precept that is tacked on to council tax bills.

Elsewhere there was little enthusiasm for the elections with turnout across Wales just 17 per cent, while voters in England also had local elections to take part in at the same time.

Mr Cuthbert, who remains in post until Wednesday, May 8 when he will retire and his successor Jane Mudd takes office, said the elections have struggled to grab the public’s attention as candidates don’t benefit from a free mail shot from the Royal Mail.

Free leaflet drop

“Unlike Parliament or Senedd elections we do not get benefit from a free leaflet drop,” said Mr Cuthbert who was twice elected as a Labour candidate, in 2016 and 2021, when the elections were held alongside Senedd elections.

“People then get at least one leaflet from the candidates. It is unfair and it doesn’t help democracy if people are not aware of the candidates, they may have a generic view of each candidate, but not their manifesto.”

Mr Cuthbert also said given the police and crime elections were being held as a standalone poll for the first time since the posts were introduced in 2012 the low turnout, similar to the 15 per cent 12 years ago wasn’t surprising.

But he disputed people haven’t engaged with the office of police and crime commissioner, or criticism that he had failed to reach out to communities during his eight years in post.

Responsibility

Plaid Cymru candidate Donna Cushing, who finished third with 9,864 votes, said before the result was announced that she believed Mr Cuthbert had to also take responsibility for a failure for the election to cut through with the public.

The Caerphilly Borough councillor said: “A lot of people didn’t know what the PCC is there for. I think a lot of that is the previous PCC did not get out there, get their message across that’s what I would have wanted to do.”

But Mr Cuthbert said he didn’t accept that as his office has held “many public events” and also has an “extensive website” but said: “It’s a bit like an insurance policy. Most people who come to us have a particular problem and most don’t so choose not to engage.”

He also said all parties have a part to play in promoting the position but said the elections also need greater support: “Raising awareness is for all political parties, so it is as much on the shoulders of Plaid Cymru as Welsh Labour.

“We could have more help from central government to make sure people exercise their democratic right and it is implemented but we do not get that and Parliamentary or Senedd candidates do.”


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Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
20 days ago

Westminster’s fault.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
20 days ago

Sure the toxic Tories have made the public apathetic after 14 years in power that’s affected the PCC turnout, but let it be known that Wales needs the devolution of our Criminal Justice System not be regarded by London as an appendage of England on the Western fringe of Britain that is seen and not heard. And anybody that says the current system where an English law system is applied only to Wales even thought since 2011 Wales returned to being a legislature after half a milena where Scotland and Northern Ireland , especially Northern Ireland, a country I might… Read more »

Jones Arfon
Jones Arfon
19 days ago

For once Jeff Cuthbert is right, he nails it. Perhaps the editor should invite the PCC’s to do a column piece to answer so much uninformed published in the Nation.cymru not to mention the comments section.

Richard E
Richard E
19 days ago
Reply to  Jones Arfon

Arfon. JC had a profile so low and unlike your own time in this PCC position – left it to the core base vote 🗳️ to turn out and put their ❌….. out of sight out of mind 🥹

Richard E
Richard E
19 days ago

Dear dear Jeff such a nice guy – ( thought he had retired some years back from public life )…may wish to look at turn out in areas where Plaid won …. Somewhat higher than Gwent I think 🤔

karl
karl
19 days ago

So a postal leaflet I would not want through my door as I try to be paperless, is to blame. The lack of public visibilty is disgusting. These PPC’s serve us, but tell us nothing. Not a single bit of info for any of those campaigning. These roles seemed silly and have yet to prove their worth in so many peoples eyes.

Daw
Daw
17 days ago

Reason for the poor turnout is because the Job itself is a total waste of tax payers money!!!! 70k a year to someone who knows absolutely diddlesquat about policing.
If these PCC are the voice of the public, then resign because quite clearly your not wanted. We shouldn’t have political parties within the Police service. Scrap this needless job.

Last edited 17 days ago by Daw

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