Low turnout challenge for PM as democratic deficit emerges

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THE low turnout in England and Wales for the election of police and crime commissioners is a humiliating blow for the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, which introduced a bill on the issue in the hope of improving accountability, amid widespread criticism that it would make the police less subject to democratic control.

With one Welsh ward reporting no votes being cast at all in the PPC election, and turnout hovering between 10 and 20 per cent elsewhere, it came as no surprise that the Electoral Commission attacked the participation rate as “a concern for everyone who cares about democracy”.

Prime Minister David Cameron said numbers were always going to be low when holding an election for the first time, adding: “It takes time to explain a new post.”

The police and crime commissioners will be able to recruit and fire chief constables and set police strategy and budgets. The coalition had insisted the commissioners would give local people more control. But with less than a fifth of the electorate bothering to vote, this claim was coming under renewed attack from a resurgent Labour last night.