Half of voters unaware of police elections, Victim Support finds
PUBLISHED September 6, 2012
The YouGov poll also showed that just one in five people believes the powerful new US-style sheriffs will help victims of crime.
Only a quarter of those questioned thought that Police and Crime Commissioners, who will set budgets and strategies in 41 force areas across England and Wales, would see looking after victims as a priority.
In an attempt to change this, the campaigners Brooke Kinsella and Nick Ross are urging candidates to help those who suffer at the hands of criminals, by signing a manifesto produced by the charity Victim Support.
Miss Kinsella, a former EastEnders actress whose teenage brother was stabbed to death, said: "My family and I know how important it is to get emotional and practical support after a crime.
"I don't think anyone traumatised by crime should be left to fend for themselves.
"People should use their vote on November 15 to elect PCC candidates who will put the needs of victims and witnesses first."
Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, added: "The future of support for victims is in the hands of PCCs.
"But our survey shows that most people don't know about PCCs, what they'll do or have little faith that they'll prioritise victims' needs."
The online survey of 2,427 adults in areas where PCCs will be elected for the first time on November 15th found that just 47 per cent of respondents knew upcoming ballots.
Only 1 per cent of those polled knew who all their local candidates were.
It is the latest sign of the disarray surrounding the Conservatives' flagship law and order initiative.
On Tuesday Nick Herbert, the driving force behind the policy, quit as Policing Minister just over two months before the elections.
Last week two Tory candidates stood down, one after a dispute with local parties and the other because of a decades-old conviction.
Other hopefuls are trying to raise £5,000 deposits and campaign funds instead of selling the policy to voters, while there have been disputes over whether or not magistrates and members of police authorities should step down if they are standing as PCCs.
Few independents are in the running despite being encouraged by ministers and experts predict a record-low turnout of 18.5 per cent which could damage the winners' legitimacy and even allow in extremist groups.
Attempts to raise awareness of PCCs have been put on hold during the Olympics and the summer recess, but Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is thought to be organising events across the country this weekend, at which Tory candidates will appear in public with MPs from their areas.
Prospective Conservative PCCs will also attend the party's conference in Birmingham next month while the Home Office is spending £3million on a nationwide advertising campaign to tell voters about the elections in general, rather than particular candidates, as it decided local mailshots were too expensive.
On Wednesday, David Cameron was asked at Prime Minister's Questions if he had confidence in the Tory PCC candidate for Hampshire, Michael Mates. The 78-year-old former MP quit the Government in 1993 over his links to the fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir, and recently gave evidence at the Old Bailey trial which ended in him being jailed for 10 years.
Mr Cameron replied that the upcoming elections were important and that people should vote in them.