In the Media

?3m police commissioner ad campaign to be shown during X Factor and Downton

PUBLISHED October 5, 2012

The Home Office is spending up to £150,000 on each showing of the 30-second film on primetime television, following concerns that public apathy could lead to record low turnout at the polls next month and so damage the winners' mandates.

The adverts show dramatised scenes of theft, burglary, violence and vandalism on the streets of Britain, and state that voting for a Police and Crime Commissioner will ensure that "local police" focus on "tackling the crimes that matter to you most".

They say that the powerful new figures, who will set budgets in 41 force areas across England and Wales and can fire chief constables, will "make a real difference to your community".

A longer version that will be distributed online encourages voters to take part by claiming: "On the 15th of November, criminals will hope you do nothing."

Billboard posters are also going up and advertisements placed in print media as the campaign to publicise the PCC elections finally begins in earnest, with just over a month until polling day.

Ministers have faced criticism for not funding mailshots that tell voters who their local candidates are, and the Electoral Commission is distributing general information about the elections and the alternative vote system that will be used.

The drive to increase public interest in the Conservatives' £100m flagship law and order initiative will continue next week at the party's conference in Birmingham.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will devote a "significant section" of her speech on Tuesday to the PCC elections and will contrast the Tories' attitude with that of their Coalition partners and the Opposition.

She is expected to say to delegates: "When you're telling people to decide who to vote for on 15 November, tell them to ask this: which candidate has the most credible plan to cut crime in their community?

"The thing that sets the Conservative candidates apart in this election is their laser-like focus on cutting crime. While Labour candidates use these elections to play politics, and the Lib Dems try to make up their minds whether they should even take part, our candidates are talking about how to help their communities by getting tough on crime."

High-profile Tory candidates including Sir Clive Loader, a former RAF officer who is standing in Leicestershire, will then take part in a discussion on stage with Damian Green, the new Policing Minister.

Sir Clive said he "very much hoped" the conference event will increase interest in the elections across the country, and defended the decision to begin the national campaign just a month before polling day.

"It was never going to be a six-month campaign," he said, "people would be bored to tears with that."

The policy has been dogged by criticism from the start as officers feared it would lead to the politicisation of the police and party chiefs struggled to find candidates other than former MPs and councillors.

Some hopefuls have had to stand down because of strict rules that bar anyone convicted of an imprisonable offence while a senior judge tried to ban magistrates from running for the new office.

Independents have complained that they are at an unfair disadvantage compared with party-backed candidates as they try to campaign over force areas that cover hundreds of miles and are home to up to 2m people, while also raising £5,000 deposits.

But ministers are confident that once the policy is explained to voters, they support the idea of making police forces more accountable and sensitive to local demands.