Tomorrow is a year since the first Police and Crime Commissioner elections, and there are two polls out this morning on it, covering essentially the same territory – YouGov for the Times and ComRes for the BBC.

YouGov found only 11% of people were able to name the police commissioner for their local area (to put this in context, in 2012 YouGov found 63% of people could name their local MP, in January this year they found 5% could name one of their MEPs). Asked about what difference the PCC had made to their local police force, 63% said they had made no difference to levels of accountability, 64% that they had made no difference to how effective the local police were at fighting crime.

ComRes found a similarly low level of awareness with only 7% of people saying they could name their Police and Crime Commissioner. However in their survey people gave a more positive response on the impact of PCCs – they asked about policing in general, levels of crime, accountability and levels of anti-social behaviour and in every case around 30-40% of people said their PCC had made a positive impact, around 10% a negative imopact and around 40% no impact at all.

I’m not quite certain why the two surveys, similar in their findings on awareness, give such different results on what people think the effect of PCCs have been. It could be a difference between online and phone mode, or perhaps how the questions were worded (e.g. YouGov asked about the effect on “local police”, ComRes on “your region” – or perhaps the option of saying “made no difference” was less prominent in the ComRes script. There’s no obvious answer).

164 Responses to “Police and Crime Commissioners a year on”

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  1. I can’t name my police commissioner and I’m surprised 11% can- did they actually have to get the question right or were they saying they knew and maybe getting confused with Inspector Morse?

  2. I can name mine (Katy Bourne) but have no idea what her role is or how to contact her, not what kind of thing she should be contacted about.

    That may make me look stupid – I don’t think I am – but IMO PCC’s were an expensive waste of money.

  3. I imagine the difference is partly down to social desirability bias being a bigger factor when talking to a real person over the phone than when ticking boxes anonymously on the internet. People don’t want to admit to another person that they don’t support “do-gooding”.

  4. I can name mine but probably only because her family used to run a bakery chain in the SW (Mountstevens). No idea what effect she may or may not have had, though.

  5. Sorry to derail an unusually on-topic discussion, but we all know this thread is going to be taken over by new polls and the latest silly political stunt from the parties within a few hours anyway, so what the heck.

    In answer to Jim Jam FPT, “To what extent is the recent increase in the Labour lead driven by changes in the Don’t Know/Not Voting numbers?”

    Not at all, according to YouGov. Here’s the numbers as of this morning’s poll:

    Tory DKs are actually continuing their slow, long-term decline that began back in the spring. Labour DKs appear to have plateaued after their rise in the first half of the summer and may be beginning to come back down again, but if so the change so far is negligible. Lib Dem DKs and NVs for all three parties appear stable.

  6. So what is going on?

    Very little. The Tories are averaging around 33%, which is about as well as they ever do with YouGov post-omnishambles budget. That week where they were really hopeless on energy policy hurt them a bit with LD -> Con and Con -> Ukip switchers, but that effect seems to have worn off by now:

  7. Meanwhile on the Labour side of things, they’re doing a bit better on retention and a bit better on attracting Con and LD switchers, but the effects are marginal (which is why we’re only seeing a 1-2% increase in their VI):

    Back to polldrums.

  8. What percentage of people know what a PCC is?

  9. Some very strange reporting of retail sales stats this morning. The ONS said sales fell 0.7% in October, which is really quite a hefty fall, and they suggest that the retail sector has been broadly flat in the autumn.

    However, some analysts and reporters are saying things like ‘consumer confidence is buoyant’ and ‘this shows households are saving up for a bumper Christmas’ (and yes, they really have said these things).

    The Guardian report this morning is the one claiming consumers are buoyant, so it might be worth examining the data. The GfK UK Consumer Confidence index is based on a 2,000 strong survey and is a long running index, so probably the best comparative measure we have.

    It’s been negative throughout 2013, although strengthening steadily from -27 in April to -10 in September. the data on which the Guardian based their ‘buoyant consumers’ analysis presumably isn’t the one where the GfK index showed a marginal worsening to -11 in October, ending an 11 month run of static or improving results.

    I commented yesterday that I felt the BoE was premature in bigging up the economy yesterday, and I am getting the same sense today. All manner of analysts and commentators have bought into the upbeat assessment, but this is the second big fall we’ve seen on the high street and the fundamentals of the economy are still extremely weak.

    I remain scratching my head wondering why so many people who should know better seem to think everything is rosy, while most households are reducing their spending and feeling worse off month by month.
    It worries me, as economies are driven by sentiment and belief. The best way to dent confidence is to encourage over optimistic assumptions, only for them to be dashed in due course.

    This leads to a greater slip than if we were honest with ourselves now and recognised the realities of the situation all along.

  10. PCC?
    Always used to be Parochial Church Council. But that was in the days of John(loins) Major’s cycling Spinsters.

  11. “or were they saying they knew and maybe getting confused with Inspector Morse?”

    Is he not one?

  12. @MSmithsonPB: New poll from TNS-BMRB sees LAB extend lead to 8%
    CON 30% (-4)
    LAB 38% (+2)
    LD 8% (-1)
    UKIP 12% (-1)
    OTHER 11% (+2)

  13. Surveys about drug use always include a control question about a made-up drug – not Cake; it’s usually called Semeron. Anyone who says they’ve taken just like *everything*, including Semeron, can be ignored. I think social attitudes surveys with a possible desirability bias should include something similar – “Do you know who your Provisional Community Ombudsman is? How well do you think they’re performing?” etc. If anyone *doesn’t* answer ‘don’t know’, their answers to the rest of the survey can be ignored.

    I do know who my PCC is – I voted for him and think he was the best candidate (he also used to be my MP). I’ve no idea how he’s performing, because I haven’t the foggiest what he actually does with his time, or for that matter what he should be doing. I’m not even sure what they *can* do, other than appointing teenagers to made-up jobs and trying to get their Chief Constable sacked (with varying degrees of success). Apart from the two or three PCCs who have made the national press (usually in a bad way), I’d be sceptical of anyone claiming to have a firm opinion on how their PCC was doing.

    What a strange development this hands-off Tory localism is, incidentally. I remember the stand-offs between James Anderton and a Labour-dominated police authority, with the then Tory government very much on the side of the police; a Labour PCC could have shown him the door. Perhaps the Tories saw ACPO as a Labour bastion needing to be undermined – the CCs certainly got on well enough with New Labour.

  14. couper2802

    We’re supposed to be encouraging ROC people back, not depressing them

  15. @ Spearmint

    Those are interesting graphs especially the don’t knows and I hope you keep that particular one going.

    One question I have is are those the numbers that are excluded from voting intention on polls or is there some weighting going on. Ie- If you are Lab in 2010 and are now DK is a percentage still included in weighting. Give’s some idea for each of the party what they can make up by DK returning to the fold.

  16. @ Shev II,

    The DK/NV graph has 5-day averages of the raw numbers from the YouGov tabs. I’ve never understood how the DKs were weighted, so I haven’t dared to modify them myself. (I’m sure we’d both be grateful for some clarification from Anthony on that point.)

    And actually, now that I think about it I think the DKs may be throwing all my churn figures off, because I weigh them based on the 2010 GB vote share but they really should be (2010 GB vote share – NV/DK). In essence, the graphs assume that DKs/NV will vote for each party in exactly the same proportions as the people declaring their voting intentions, but that’s probably wrong. Oops.

  17. Some controversy seems to have occurred during First Minister’s Questions. I’m sure OldNat will be able to illuminate further.

  18. I’ve been looking at some of the EU PMI data, in light of the news this morning of a slow down across most of the EZ and my long held interest in the connection or otherwise between PMI surveys and actual data.

    It’s interesting that the full EZ composite PMI’s and those specific to France and Germany have all indicated either no change or increased output. However, this mornings figures show France shrank marginally, and Germany saw the growth rate fall back markedly – not what the PMI surveys were predicting.

    There is an increasing disconnect between expectations and reality, at least within the UK and Europe, it seems.

  19. Ewen,
    Scream,now you are being sadistic!mentioning the unmentionable.

  20. Lousy reporting by the BBC of their own poll.

    Along the lines of “51% say that the PCC has had no impact or a negative impact on levels of crime”.

    Turns out that you could also present the figures as 74% saying the PCC has had no impact or a positive impact on levels of crime, and 75% no impact or a positive impact on policing generally.

    Journalists trying to present figures in the worst possible and misleading way in order to generate a spurious story. Yet another example for AW to mark down in his book of shame, methinks.

  21. Phil – that’s the way its laid out in the ComRes tables. Don’t know why they’ve lumped negative and no effect together (though I think it would have been perfectly reasonable to say only x% think they’ve had a positive impact)

  22. @ Shev II,

    Assuming the most obvious interpretation of the DK/NV numbers- ie. that they’re the percentage of the 2010 Party X voters now answering “Don’t Know” or “Not Voting”, the weighed numbers would look like this:

    Lib Dems are high because the percentage of Lib Dem DKs is so high, Tories are high because there were a lot of Tory voters in 2010.

    So there’s room to reclaim some votes there, but we should remember that YouGov don’t reallocate and so (as I understand it) their topline voting figures are calculated as if all these people were dead. In other words, when they say “Tories at 33%” they actually mean “Tories at 0.85*33 = 28%” (or whatever percentage of the electorate have declared voting intentions). And 28% + 5% Tory DKs just brings the Tories back to 33%.

  23. I haven’t got an idea who my PCC is but hope that she or he does a good job (whatever it might be). I don’t feel ignorant though. How odd it is!

  24. @ Alec

    It seems to me that it became a patriotic duty to be optimistic about the economy. Perhaps there is a law or something.

    BoE was more cautious today than yesterday.

  25. You do wonder about people sometimes. 35% said “I don’t know if my region has a Police and Crime Commissioner” (and another 3% were definite it didn’t)[1]. But only 16% then said “Don’t Know” when asked “What impact, if any, do you think that your Police and Crime Commissioner has had on each of the following issues in your region?”.

    So at least 20% were prepared to give an opinion on the effects of an individual they had no knowledge of till seconds previously. Admittedly some may have felt that if they hadn’t heard of the PCC, then “No impact” would be appropriate, but it doesn’t really follow.

    Chris Martin above reckoned that ‘social desirability’ being higher for telephone polls might be part of the reason for higher positive ratings in the ComRes poll. The tables tend to support this as members of those groups perhaps more prone to social compliance (and not incidentally to saying DK in polls) are also more likely to give positive answers. So ‘lower’ SEGs, younger age groups and (marginally) women were all more likely to say that things had improved due to PCCs – even if they didn’t know what they were.

    [1] London and Scotland weren’t asked and presumably ComRes double-checked when ringing numbers around London)

  26. @ Spearmint

    Thanks for that.

  27. can’t name my police commissioner

    -I think Mine is Commissioner Gordon

    The Dark -Ex Tory Councillor With No Policing Experience- Rises!

    Elected by a Massive 8% of the Electorate and not seen out of the bat cave since

  28. @AW

    True. But maybe the client (BBC) asked them to do it that way. I noticed also that of the four questions they could have used, the BBC chose the most negative figure they could come across (impact on crime 51% none or negative), and ignored the others (e.g. policing generally 44%). And frankly since PCCs aren’t supposed to intervene in operational policing matters why the impact on levels of crime is supposed to be a
    test of their effectiveness is beyond me.

    I still think its really lousy reporting because of those who did go one way or another, the positives all outweigh the negatives by some considerable margin. You would have no idea listening to the news reports. The one that I think matters is police accountability, where PCCs do clearly have a role, and where 34% think there’s been a positive impact, 11% negative, and 37% see no difference.

  29. Sorry Ann in Wales…
    I still can’t work out what brand of warm beer Major’s bicycling spinsters were supping,although if he was buying it would probably be bitter and weak ; )

  30. “So at least 20% were prepared to give an opinion on the effects of an individual they had no knowledge of till seconds previously. Admittedly some may have felt that if they hadn’t heard of the PCC, then “No impact” would be appropriate, but it doesn’t really follow.”

    Similar to those who had a tory VI but identified as ‘would never vote tory’ that i mentioned on the last thread(after everybody had left for this one)

  31. Reposted from last thread. I know AW doesn’t like it, but given the lack of righties recently maybe he’ll indulge me.

    Labour are doing very well at the moment specifically because their “cost of living” campaign and the heavily scripted “recovery for the few not the many” message is taking root very effectively.

    The energy freeze pledge was definitely the masterstroke that opened the door to this, but it has been followed up with some fairly rhythmic drum-beating on a range of topics.

    Personally (you won’t be suprised to hear me say) I think it’s largely a load of guff. I don’t think there’s anything particularly different about this recovery than previous ones. The idea that “the people” won’t feel the benefit of recovery is patent nonsense. If houses are being built, “people” in construction will feel the benefit. If money is being spent, “people” in goods and services will feel the benefit. If unemployment falls, average household incomes will rise (even if wage increases are zero or negative) as those employed workers bring home the bacon.

    Yes, public servants (like me) will continue to feel the pinch. I’m not exactly ecstatic about that, having had my personal income cut by perhaps 15% with more to come. But if I look at my overall situation? My mortage is so cheap its practically free. My wife has now found a full time job and her income has risen by more than mine has fallen. My stepdaughter is picking up enough shifts to be self-sufficient and even pay me a small amount of rent. I am not exactly starving.

    I think that Labour have succeeded very well in getting the meme established that the recovery has had and will have no impact on “normal” people’s lives. The media has bought into it, and it is repeated here as if it was scientific fact (the sort of thing that makes it unappealing for people like me to read) but that doesn’t mean it’s actually true. It’s just a political slogan, dreamt up because the last one (austerity has killed the recovery) has lost its power.

    Labour are on the advance, and the chances of a big Labour majority in 2015 have certainly increased substantially since the Summer. The only real hope for the Tories is that the recovery is as good as or better than Carney is projecting, and the benefits of it to ordinary people become so obvious that the New Orthodoxy that it is somehow uniquely a “recovery for the rich” begins to look ridiculous.

    If Labour go into 2015 campaigning on “vote for us if you haven’t benefited from the recovery” there is just a chance that if people look at their situation and respond “but I have”, the result could defeat expectations.

  32. @Catmanjeff (fpt)
    “For England, look at Cambridge.
    LD 39.1
    Con 25.5
    Lab 24.3”

    Which happens to be one of the seats where there’s a constituency betting market at present. Current odds: Lab 4/5, LD 5/4, Con 20/1, Green 50/1

    That translates into % probabilities of winning of about Lab 52%, LD 41%, Con 5%, Green 2% once you remove the bookies profit. At least, that’s what Ladbrokes reckon.

  33. The thing about PCCs is that they replaced something about which the public knew even less.

    The only real issue to arise so far in Devon and Cornwall is that Boss Hogg and his office are costing a bit more than the previous set up – with the money obviously having to be found from an already reduced pot that could have been spent on policwork.

    His office has been pretty busy, given that we are about to sell off half of our HQ building and grounds to raise cash, and that involves a quite massive project of redevelopment. Of course all this would have been done by the Police Authority and I don’t suppose it makes much difference who does it. Hence the issue over price.

    Personally I remain relatively neutral on the whole concept. I certainly don’t share Steve’s objection to the idea of a non-police officer holding the purse strings (’twas ever thus, even under the Police Authorities, and besides I don’t believe police officers can be trusted with purses).

    I note that Labour now seem to be swinging behind the idea, so it looks like PCCs will be around for a while and we will get to see whether they bed in over time. For me the real judgement must be reserved until the next PCC elections when voters will have a much clearer idea what the job entails (as will the candidates). Also attacking/defending a record makes for a make more interesting election campaign than “a police and crime what now?”

  34. @RogerH (fpt)
    “Which is why the LD vote won’t collapse in the SW.”

    All those Labour supporters lining up to vote again for David (“the coalition must last a full 5 years”) Laws and his like? That might be a bit of wishful thinking on your part.

  35. “That might be a bit of wishful thinking on your part.”

    I refer you to exhibit A:

    @MSmithsonPB: New poll from TNS-BMRB sees LAB extend lead to 8%
    CON 30% (-4)
    LAB 38% (+2)
    LD 8% (-1)
    UKIP 12% (-1)
    OTHER 11% (+2)

  36. I’m putting a tenner on Lab to gain Sheffield Hallam at 5/1. More to encourage me to campaign than out of any likelihood of winning it!


    FMQs, like their Westminster equivalent, are never worthy of discussion.

  38. @ Phil Haines: “All those Labour supporters lining up to vote again for David (“the coalition must last a full 5 years”) Laws and his like? That might be a bit of wishful thinking on your part.”

    Not wishful thinking. I just think LibDem voters will be as keen on not electing a Tory MP in 2015 as they were in 2010. Also I reckon defections to UKIP will cancel out any benefit the Tories might make from a drop in LibDem support.

  39. @ Neil A: “I think that Labour have succeeded very well in getting the meme established that the recovery has had and will have no impact on “normal” people’s lives.”

    Worth listen to the FT’s Gillian Tett – who sees little recovery outside London – and David Blanchflower – who thinks it’s unsustainable – on last night’s Newsnight (5:15 in):

  40. I have a lot of time for Gillian Tett, but so far as I’m concerned, Blanchflower is so partisan he is effectively a campaigning politician not an “expert”.

    The recovery is certainly strongest in London, but I personally believe that if it is sustained at the rate that Carney suggests, most if not all of the rest of the UK will feel tangible effects long before the next GE.

  41. @Neil

    Blanchflower is one of the best in his field (examining unemployment), and he’s partisan because he thinks the Government has got it badly wrong.

    He doesn’t think the Govt. has got it badly wrong because he’s partisan, if you get my drift – although, to be fair, he never has been and never will be a member of the Mervyn King Fan Club.

    I think it’s not unreasonable that a labour market specialist who has spent his career examining the causes of unemployment may not be enamoured of policies that he sees as increasing it. He is especially unfond of the finance sector and banking, with very good reason.

    Personally, were I him, I might be more temperate about the way I express myself because it makes it too easy to dismiss him, but we do have a climate where even people like Jonathan Portes is dismissed as ‘biased’ when he says things people don’t like, so he may as well not bother if he feels strongly.

    He used to regularly harangue Labour as well, if you recall. He used to wind them up when he was on the MPC.

    Here’s something from 2009 when he was busy challenging the status quo:

  42. @ Neil A

    The energy price freeze initially didn’t work according to the polls. It started to work when the energy companies actually increased the prices and the government’s advise was to change suppliers (so pro status quo).

  43. Blanchflower is partisan (but it’s difficult to figure it out with whom). He is also quite cavalier with his past errors.G. Tett has the advantage of actually knowing how the financial sector works.

    It is a different recovery because it is not yet really one. But one cannot really expect larger increases in wages until the previous high point is reached. Also I still don’t think that enough consumption demand has been taken out of the economy (though credit card companies and banks do what they can…).

  44. @Neil A

    Obviously if the recovery is sustained and benefits most, then sure, that can have a significant VI effect.

    Problem is, there are numerous ways that may not happen and you have to account for those to have a robust case. If you can do that, you might also make a few bob on a canny bet and join AW in terms of yachtedness!! And I might be racing to the bookies too!!

  45. Some people’s ideas of what posting in the “spirit of non-partisanship” seem to be extremely odd.

    Anyway, as ever, this is not a venue for political debate. If you want to discuss economics go ahead, but without the hyperbole, without the partisan arguments about who is wrong or right (or if the government’s policy is wrong or right!), or the obvious partisan selection of points to make a political point. If your comment would not look out of place in a bad political speech, it’s a good clue that you shouldn’t be making it here.

    (And, as ever, in case this is misconstrued it is NOT aimed at carfrew or Lazslo, who are behaving perfectly well but just happen to have made the most recent unmoderated comments before I stepped in. They are welcome to continue as they were!)

  46. @NEIL A

    We have falling unemployment, v low interest rates and relatively low inflation. The reason we can have this situation is low wage rises.

    So for the recovery to take hold without bad consequences (higher interest rates or inflation) wages must stay low.

    So Labour are in a good place either wages do not rise in which case their cost of living argument wins or the economic recovery runs into issues in which case they win the economic argument.

    BTW: I think the Cons handling of the economy has been quite good it seems pretty sure footed to me. It is other issues I have a problem with.

  47. @Steve,

    You are describing differences between this recession and previous ones, not between this recovery and previous ones.

    The idea that an economy can grow at 2% or so a year and the benefits be felt only by Cameron, Osborne and a few of their in-laws is what I am deriding as “guff”.


    I don’t doubt Blanchflower’s sincerity or his intelligence. I just think he is a committed socialist who has been haranguing governments (Labour and Coalition) to move to the left for years. He may well be right to do so (that would depend on whether you agree with his politics). But he is clearly a campaigner (hence your reference to “intemperence”). I think he would find it hard to acknowledge information that contradicts his views. Tett is more balanced.


    Very few announcements or policy changes have an immediate effect. I’ve lost count of the times when we’ve all been waiting for a reaction the polls that doesn’t seem to come, but then slowly plays out over the following weeks. Personally I think it is not the announcements themselves that get through, but the media reporting of them. I still maintain that the energy price freeze very much hit the nation’s sweet spot. Free money taken from rich people and given to the masses is always a winner, apart from “tax rises” which voters usually assume will fall on them even if in reality they won’t.


  48. Oops sorry AW, cross posted.

  49. You’re a sport, Neil A.

    I should, of course, have turned all my assertions (just above) into questions before posting, leaving it open to debate whether the issues I was raising would have an effect on the polls or not.

  50. Neil A
    Which Colin,
    I haven’t seen any posts from him. Hope he’s OK though,

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