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. Ah, I see, he was moderated, was he, CD?

  2. @Neil A – I think the 4th paragraph of your 3.14pm post (the bit after the ‘load of guff’) misses the point.

    Again, I’m being strictly non partisan here, but I actually sense that what many people might be feeling isn’t specifically related to the recovery.

    I don’t have the figures to hand, so I’m somewhat trusting my memory, but there have been many statistics showing real wages for those who are not very poor or very rich staying broadly static for a long, long time. This pre dates the recession, and was clear during the New Labour years.

    It was tolerable in the ‘good’ times, but the recession threw this whole change in socio economics into much sharper relief. The causes are complex, but go back a long way – it’s been commented on here that the upward flow of wealth to the higher earning levels has been happening in both the US and UK for several decades.

    I think therefore that to isolate your post as a specific comment on the recovery is misguided. While Labour aren’t proclaiming this, it’s as much about what happened when they were in power as anything we are seeing now.

    This recovery is different, for that reason, and all parties are going to have to recognise this. Your general point is perfectly valid – the recovery may make people feel better off than they are currently expecting, but recent history suggests otherwise.

  3. @Howard,

    Colin Davis. His post has gone now. Presumably AW will snip the relevant portion of my reply in due course. (I was being lazy and not using people’s full names.. my bad!)

  4. On the wider economy question.

    The very effective Tory argument at the last election was (from a Ken Clarke speech):
    “Imagine the impact of a Labour victory: The UK“s credit rating would be seriously put at risk. Interest rate rises would hit the government, the taxpayer and business while choking off a feeble recovery. ”

    Argument makes sense to me. Creditors want more interest if you are unlikely to repay. You need to keep your debt levels below a certain level.

    But reading the news today, there is now fear that interest rates will rise before 2015 because the economy has been fixed, and that will choke off the recovery!

    Makes sense to me. Interest rates will have to rise once employment reaches a certain threshold to prevent inflation. And with our debt levels it will send us straight back into recession as all of the help to buy people can no longer afford their mortgage repayments, they default, banks have to write off large amounts, taxpayer needs to bail out the banks and pay for the loan guarantees.

    Economics…economics…makes no sense..

    But with the news now moving to ‘interest rates to rise due to the recovery’, it will be harder to sell the first argument so effectively this time round.

  5. neil a

    “my bad!)”

    Oh YUK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. @COUPER2802. We have falling unemployment figures.

  7. Barclays to axe 1700 jobs: I do hope the top earners get a jolly good pay-off.

  8. All is explained, thanks.

    I must confess that today’s YG (now collected) will shew us whether the widened gap is so. The other polls indicate this widening but I am a ‘three in a row’ man.

    I don’t think a modest recovery will outweigh the damper that most families will undoubtedly be feeling.

    It needs a bit more than that IMO.

  9. david

    “@COUPER2802. We have falling unemployment figures.”

    Yes, its Billy Boom time. If you feel you HAVEN’T got a job then just check the “figures” – and you’ll see you actually have.

  10. I clearly don’t understand how this site works. So far as I can see my post is still there. Mirage?

  11. @Alec,

    I half-agree. My gut instinct tells me that the public has been and is in the mood to tolerate quite a lot of belt-tightening. Across the board, people have been meekly accepting cuts in their pay and conditions that in “ordinary times” would have led to outrage. I think that a combination of the truly awful scale of the crash (with its images of rioting Greeks, destitute Spaniards and Irish politicians begging for help) combined with a relatively successful spin campaign by the government to engender a “blitz spirit” has led the UK public to accept their lot. In that sense I think the public can probably simultaneously believe that they are worse off but that the government has done a good job on the economy.

    Where I agree with you is that I think that, if this gut instinct is correct, then public opinion will be extremely vulnerable to issues of fairness relating to the very rich. Their satisfaction with at or near inflation pay rises and a moderate improvement in their lot will be easily overturned if they see a “loadsamoney” culture returning in London and the South East. There is every chance of that happening, and Cameron and Osborne, due to their background, are especially vulnerable to it. Moments like the “austerity and the Golden Throne” speech could cause a spark.

    But on the whole, if that pitfall is avoided somehow, I think the public may be more grateful than you expect for a mild economic boost in the next 18 months.

  12. @Richard,

    People with mortgages are currently enjoying a Golden Age. My net spending money, despite my pay cut, has actually increased due to about 1/3 of my monthly mortgage repayment magically vanishing.

    Interest rates at 1%, even at 3%, would still be tiny by historical standards for the UK. I think there is about a 50/50 chance that interest rates will rise by the next election, and if they do I don’t expect it to be to more than 3% – which is still low.

    And the people who would “suffer” (mortgage holders) are home owners, and their sense of wellbeing is likely to be maintained by the increase in their equity over the same period, so I don’t see it being such a vote loser.

    A much greater threat, in my opinion, is a new round of chaos in the Eurozone, or a new Oil Crisis caused by a pincer movement of Middle Eastern instability and increased demand on the back of the recovery (although Shale Gas has slightly changed the maths of oil crises – as prices increase, there is now theoretically at least a way to leverage that into new sources of energy production).

  13. @RosieandDaisie,

    Yes, but as I was saying, if you have just found a job as a result of a company starting up or expanding in response to economic growth, the Labour party telling you it’s hasn’t really happened isn’t going to cut much ice either.

  14. My main point is that low wages are necessary to sustain any recovery so Labour have a good cost of living argument

  15. My point is low wages are necessary for the recovery and so recovery for only the rich should serve Lab well

  16. Neil A and Paul Croft

    The overall picture as in the statistics has to be accepted because to do otherwise flies in the face of facts. However, if the goodies are not distributed equally, either geographically or class wise, (or otherwise), then one can get a skewed reaction.

    For instance, one may have now low interest rates on mortgage as Neil A has enjoyed, but others on fixed rates will not have done.

    Thus the overall reaction by voters is all that one can go by, which is why we have polls, and that reaction is ‘curtains’ for the present Coalition, as things stand.

  17. Actually I took out a 3 year fixed rate in 2008 and didn’t get to benefit from the credit crunch until two years ago. Very few people with mortages by this point will have not experienced some benefit.

  18. @ Neil A

    You could be right about the energy price freeze. I also know that it’s a sensitive spot for the public. But it worked much better as within a short period the energy companies (most) put up their prices and it came across as defiant. It also created a comparison with government policies, thus reinforced stereotypes (no to mention MPs’ energy bills).

    I guess the public was sceptical about the proposal, but they probably liked it from him (cf his perception in the polls). It wasn’t the public that was caught by the media but the government and in terms of PR made a pretty bad move.

  19. Neil A
    My point was (I am sure it was clear to you) is that the ‘largesse’ you received cannot apply to all voters, either because they rent or own outright, or have some other deal that the crash of intrest rates doesn’t apply to them. One should also take into account all those with savings, as opposed to debts, who feel distinctly unhappy with the drop in income they are ‘enjoying’.

    In any event, I will gamble to say that if everyone was so financially content as you feel, it would be a different story in the polls than is the case.

  20. @ Alec

    The increasing inequality of income distribution during Labour is largely dependent on the choice of starting and end point (obviously there is no causality between election dates and such compact measurements as income distribution). Most of the academic papers are flawed on this subject and there are two review articles on this, yet these are ignored.

    I think there is a squeezed middle rather than a simple redistribution from the poor (IDS has a problem with this) to the rich.

  21. The stagnating living standards thing does seem to have a link with the findings from the recent OECD report where everyone got excited about the skills headlines and misconstrued them to make a political point.

    The OECD showed that we have a very odd labour market in the UK with a large group of skilled jobs that pay well (which is where, let’s be honest, most of us middle-class political data nerds are happily encamped) but also a large group of really low skills jobs that pay very poorly (and don’t allow skills development, which is why people get stuck at the same level of skills they left school with, which is ok at 16 but not ok at 24 – hence the headlines). We have a much lower group of intermediate skilled jobs that pay moderately well and allow some development than almost everyone else.

    So what we have is a disproportionately large group of people who are stuck in low skilled jobs, with few prospects and low pay and they’re the ones who have had a proper kicking from the recession. With little chance to advance and low skilled jobs, they have little opportunity for significant wage increases, and it has been very hard for them.

    There is probably also a squeezed middle as well, but the real issue is we have too many working poor, and this appears to be a partial consequence of deindustrialisation in the 80s and 90s – which, to be balanced, also grew the number of people in the top bracket significantly.

    Politically, they are a serious problem as Labour used to be their voice but as Labour members and representatives are largely drawn from the affluent end of the spectrum, they have become more and more detatched from this group, who have become disenchanted with the political process. However, the other problem is for the Tories, who haven’t really grasped the scale of the problem and who have essentially lost this entire group for the forseeable future.

  22. @Howard,

    Every point I made in relation to interest rates referred explicitly only to “mortgage holders”. Of course there are people who didn’t get a windfall when interest rates fell, and there are savers who lost out. But those groups stand to be relatively unaffected and to benefit respectively if interest rates rise again.

    My point was that the return of interest rates to more sensible and sustainable levels won’t necessarily be the Armageddon that some suggest.

  23. @Neil a. Agency’s, zero hours contracts,workfare and many other schemes are distorting the true number of unemployed greatly.

  24. Distorting? Yes. Greatly? I don’t agree.

    My stepdaughter works on a ZHC. It’s absolutely terrible and I’d love her to be able to get a better job. But even in a bad week she earns at least as much as she would get paid on JSA After all, 9 hours on minimum wage is more than a week’s JSA. So she is “employed”.

    And does “workfare” actually mean you are counted as employed? I honestly don’t know if it is or isn’t.

    But, overall, it seems unlikely given the other economic indicators that all of the reduction in employment is caused by increases in workfare programs or people on ZHCs who aren’t actually working.

  25. Neil A. If you are on workfare you don’t count on the figures,they continue to get their jsa.Any employer taking on a workfare person is paid a grant for doing so.Obviously this takes away any need an employer has to employ a real paid worker,indeed the employer would be crazy to turn down a grant.This arrangement has been around for ages,so again I use the word greatly.

  26. @David,

    Do you believe there has been an increase in the use of “workfare” in the past year? Again I honestly don’t know. But if one is looking at the veracity of the relative reduction in unemployment this year, a long term policy which hasn’t changed shouldn’t alter the trend.

  27. Neil A

    Of course. I just feel that our own anecdotal experience is no evidence on what is taking place in national VI and I made the point that this is (evidently) heavily skewed regionally.

    I don’t know how Con and LD can make progress in the urban north, but it seems a tall order to me and the regional breakdown, helpfully supplied by the pollsters makes that clear.

    My gripe is why the pollsters combine Regions, when they feel the need to, and why they differ among themselves as to which they combine. The Wales and West and East Midlands is an obvious example (well obvious to me).

  28. ‘why they feel the need to’ apols.

  29. @Howard,

    When I am told that I am not benefiting from the recovery, my own anecdotal evidence is the only thing that matters, surely? I am 250 miles from London.

  30. Neil A. There are so many groups of people not counted as unemployed that it’s hard to know the real number anymore.These groups include, anyone working sixteen hours a week,volunteers,claimants on sanctions,the list goes on.

  31. Neil A,
    The Tory nightmare is of course that the public do not do gratitude.Ii may well
    be that the economy is going great guns by 2015, but not that they will be
    Rewarded for it.Still a long way to go.Who can say.

  32. Neil A

    I’m surprised.

    First, who was telling you that you are not so benefiting?

    Secondly you surely are not advancing an anecdote (your own) as evidence for any future polling data?

  33. Neil A

    You don’t see this recovery as being different to previous ones?

    Figure 1

    http://niesr.ac.uk/sites/default/files/publications/gdp1113.pdf

    That the story in a nutshell.

  34. PCCs are a yawn. Now if we could have completely independent (local) bodies to investigate complaints it might generate a bit more interest. But folk would soon lose interest if all they did was to find ways of defeating complaints, ways of shutting them down, ways of fobbing people off, ways of covering up faults etc etc. I will write to Santa and see if he can arrange something.

  35. Yeovil was mentioned upthread.

    2010:
    LD 31,843 (55.7%), Con 18,807 (32.9%), Lab 2,991 (5.2%), UKIP 2,357 (4.1%), turnout 69.4%.

    This would appear to be one of LD’s very safest seats, but 2010 was only the second time in seven GEs when the LD majority was greater than 10k (previously Paddy Ashdown in 1997). Any Con/UKIP realignment/local pact in the run-up to 2015 could make this seat marginal for LD.

    2013 locals:
    LD 7,106 (35%), UKIP 5,713 (28%), Con 4,750 (24%), Lab 1,631 (8%), turnout 30-40%.
    LD loses two wards to UKIP and one to Con.

  36. Poor Neil,
    Being positively love bombed tonight.

  37. @Howard,

    Gillian Tett, the Labour Party, all and sundry really. Apparently, if you’re not a rich person in London, with a yacht, the rising tide isn’t reaching you remember?

    And no I’m not advancing my anecdote as any kind of evidence. The point of the discussion is that ‘some people’ are saying that increased growth, falling unemployment, falling inflation etc won’t affect VI because it’s not “real” and that “real” people aren’t experiencing the benefit. The purpose of my anecdote is to illustrate that each individual “real” person (including me) will be the judge of whether they have benefited from the recovery or not.

    @Lefty,

    Again, all that chart really shows me is that the downturn was longer and more persistent than previous ones. I don’t think it tells us that the recovery, now that it has started, will be particularly different to previous ones or that the distribution of the benefits of that recovery will be significantly different to previous recoveries.

    Ozwald,

    I agree that there needs to be a more independent and rigorous complaints investigation system. I think having all complaints dealt with externally might be prohibitively expensive, but for anything that amounts to a significant criminal offence I think I would support it. The main stumbling block would be establishing a corps of investigators with enough savvy and knowledge to tackle the police, but who were not themselves officers or former officers.

    As to whether the PCCs are relevant to this, I see one of them (is it Avon and Somerset?) is setting up committees of local residents to look into complaints. And at the very least the PCCs are (mostly) people who have never been police officers and whose loyalty is mostly to their own chances of reelection rather than the career prospects of the officers in their force.

    Fortunately I haven’t had much experience of complaints. I’ve only had a handful and they were all pretty spurious. (One of them claimed that I lied about something I said in a video interview with a child. My response? Err, watch the video.) The experience I have had of working parallel to complaints departments leads me to believe that the standard is a bit variable. The Met was pretty good. Devon and Cornwall not so good at all.

  38. @ Chris Riley

    Very neat summary (7.02 I think). The expansion of the university sector and at least for some years are missing in my view, but I agree with the points and logic

  39. @Ann,

    Perhaps you can see what keeps the righties away!

    Personally I’m used to it. As a Tory Chairman at my student union I often spent a couple of hours on my feet speaking against (and being the only one so speaking) every motion of the evening…

  40. @ Neil A

    While I don’t think that dichotomising the problem of “real” on either side is helpful. Here in the NW shopkeepers and artisans as well as high tech entrepreneurs are still unhappy.

    I think there systematic winners, systematic losers and systematic neutrally effected and the rest is random noise. While I addressed this to you, it is just as valid for those who try to argue from the opposition stance.

  41. @Laszlo,

    We’ll have to see if there is solid growth for the next 6 quarters, and whether it leads to a reduction in the unhappiness of the North West.

  42. @Billy Bob
    “Yeovil was mentioned upthread”

    By me (sort of).

    The October 1974 result is worth bearing in mind, being the last one before the Lab vote started to get squeezed by Ashdown: Con 43%, Lab 29%, Lib 29%. The constituency has a large urban element and it’s never been a safe Conservative seat. The contrast between that 29% and the 5% Labour polled in 2010 indicates the extent of Laws’ vulnerability, because it demonstrates his reliance on left-leaning votes.

  43. Recovery for the few:
    It’s pretty easy to see how this could/is happening.
    Wages rise but –
    – gas, electrictiy, water, rail, prices rise by 9%
    – rents go up
    – housing benefit, child benefit, tax credits are cut.

    The final nail in the coffin is if interest rates go up

  44. Neil

    What that graph shows is that the RECOVERY was slower than any previous one. That is the point. This recovery is utterly unlike previous ones. Even the moderate growth that we now appear to be experiencing is slower than the growth that we typically had coming out of previous recoveries. And it’s coming three years later than previous recoveries.

    You can have your own opinions over whether this was inevitable or not. But the figures are there. Clear. Unambiguous. The recovery is NOT similar to other. If it HAD been, we as a country would now have a GDP about £100bn greater than it actually is. And that is the core of why we’re not feeling better.

  45. NEIL A

    “The purpose of my anecdote is to illustrate that each individual “real” person (including me) will be the judge of whether they have benefited from the recovery or not.”

    I agree with you. Worth adding, however, that most individuals judgments are strongly influenced by their interactions with other individuals.

    Not unnaturally, for many people these other individuals have a similar set of attitudes, and so there can be mutual reinforcement of ideas. That’s how the “narratives” we use to explain a complex world develop.

    Narratives can be restricted to a small group meeting in the saloon bar, or become so widespread as to influence election results.

    Which way the narrative on the recovery will go, can’t be clear.this early.

  46. Neil A. For there to be a real recovery surely more money must be in circulation.We know that can’t be true,banks aren’t lending,wages in real terms are down,interest payments on savings are non existent,benefit payments are down.Where can this new money be coming from?

  47. Neil,
    You are a brave man indeed.

  48. Billy Bob
    The Cons have chosen a young man (see photo
    http://www.itv.com/news/west/story/2013-07-31/yeovil-open-primary/
    – interesting hair-do and surname ) which is to do with a planned Yeovil urban extension towards a bijou village (T’S Elliott buried there). I don’t know how this could affect the local campaign.

    I suppose it will all turn on the very high profile sitting Member’s image and I expect that has variable responses. Yeovil itself is a place you would normally think was a Con / Lab marginal but the rest is rural towns and villages.

  49. Neil A makes a very good point about ‘blitz spirit’

    I wonder how much the house price inflation of (most of) the Labour years overcame any sense of disgruntlement at flat or falling real incomes: without researching specifically my sense is that this was (or without house price rises would have been) the squeezed middle era. Pay at the top was doing nicely and it was doing OK at the bottom too with tax credits, child benefit (and a 10% tax rate – for a bit!)

    The house price boom is now well entrenched in London at least and will I suppose help feelings of welloffishness but I’m not sure how much that will be counterbalanced by the sense that nobody’s kids can afford a flat. Also, somebody (Blanchflower?) remarked upon mortgages at base plus 1.5%. A reversion to anything like normal interest rates would very quickly double mortgage repayments leaving even Neil A pretty stretched/disgruntled with historically low pay and probable low pay increases.

  50. Ann in Wales

    Neil A had better make sure Mrs Neil A isn’t reading this thread.

    Actually she love bomb him even more.

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