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. @Lazslo

    University expansion was a reaction to industrial change and not a cause of it. The change to a much more service-oriented economy needed different skills and university was, probably correctly, seen as the best way to produce that.

  2. @NEIL A
    “Perhaps you can see what keeps the righties away!”


    Well that might be mixing up cause and effect a little there, since if the righties were here you’d have them to help share the load. That said, I got loads of questions I could ask ya and an interesting article about whether householders really are better off, but I figured you already had your hands full.

    Especially since it’s also a thread about policing issues, a specialist area of yours and people like your perspective on such things…

  3. I am pretty certain that Frank Lampard won’t be reading this but congrats to him anyway for his 100th England cap tomorrow.

    As well as being a great player he comes over as very likeable and sincere young man

  4. Frank? Are you there?

  5. Got a post for Neil A in automod at 9.57pm… Don’t worry Neil, it doesn’t give you any more work to do!!…

  6. Wow, that was a quick retrieval!! Nice one AW…

  7. @Phil Haines

    Many LD seats seem to date back to gains from Con in the 1997, or from Lab in the 2000s, but Yeovil dates back to 1983.

    There does seem to have been a fairly consistent picture though. Squeezing/overtaking a second place party before a breakthrough gain. Careful cutivation of the vote… a drop in support when the seat passes to a ‘second generation’ MP, and then a further consolidation. It’s possible this fortunate cycle might undergo an unpredictable breakdown in 2015.

    Further to your comment about Ashdown squeezing the Labour vote from 1979, I thought it might be worth looking at the relationship between VI and seats over the years:

    1974: 18.3%, 13 seats.
    1979: 13.8%, 11 seats.
    SDP/Liberal Alliance
    1983: 25.4%, 23 seats.
    1987: 22.6%, 22 seats.
    1992: 17.8%, 20 seats.
    1997: 16.8%, 46 seats.
    2001: 18.3%, 52 seats.
    2005: 22.0%, 62 seats.
    2010: 23.0%, 57 seats.

  8. That ROC posters aren’t posting is a matter for them: they’ve hardly been subject to appalling abuse.

    Neil A is an excellent example of someone who politely explains his own opinions and just lets the debate go on around him.

    I don’t think there is anything here to get upset about and my only irritation is with the very few posters who make statements or predictions and back them up with “That’s what I think”.

    I don’t call that debate and it adds sod-all to one’s own understanding.

  9. The ROC was an enormous bird in Arabic mythology.

    To use that as a contraction for those posters who don’t support either Labour (or parties which are left of centre) seems rather unkind.

    Reducing politics to positioning on a unidimensional view also seems to trivialise complex responses to complex problems.

  10. @Howard – ” …interesting hair-do”

    Thanks for that.

    Looks like he’s been given the candidate treatment since this photo was taken:


  11. OldNat:

    Well never mind: its better than “righties”, is relatively easy to understand and doesn’t involve delving into the complexity of varied opinions of people I don’t know – so I do hope that is alright with you?

    I’m not bothered about upsetting the Roc either.

  12. Someone I think last thread brought up the relatively high number of LDs retiring at the next election (7/57).

    I had a think about this and while it might be easy to accuse many of them of cowardice (and one comes to mind who definitely deserves that accusation) it also goes back to when many of these seats were taken.

    In 1997, the Lib Dems actually made the greatest number of proportional gains (more than doubling their seat total from 18 to 46). Since then, they’re only 10 up.

    It logically follows then that a huge contingent of LD MPs were first elected in 1997. By 2015 they’ll have served four terms and I would say that’s not an unreasonable number after which to retire.

    Of course, there were a huge number of Labour MPs elected in 1997 too, but many of them either already lost their seats in 2005/10, or are standing again to take their party back into office.

    As for the Conservatives, there are presumably fewer of them standing because conversely they were wiped out in 1997 – the bulk of their MPs were first elected later (2005/10) and are less tired of Westminster.

    That’s not to say I’m necessarily correct – it’s just a guess. It could just be cowardice.

  13. “Scottish Politician of the Year” awards just out. Nice spread of awards by the Press.

    Hopefully, no disappointed Lord will set fire to the curtains this time1

  14. How to kill a thread………..

  15. I’m going to give my two cents here:

    I don’t like the election of police chiefs, sheriffs, and commissioners.

    Now I have a split system really. The City of Los Angeles has an appointed police chief. The County of Los Angeles elects its sheriff. Most cities and counties are like this to my knowledge. And I tell you, I don’t honestly know why this is.

    I prefer that these positions be appointed and not elected. Doesn’t mean it’s not a political decision or that the guys who get elected aren’t good at politics. But you tend to get people who are far more qualified and far more adept at their jobs rather than simply serving as politicians who guide large staffs. They’re more likely to make decisions that will make their force more effective than simply rely on the immediate whim of the voters.

    And think about it this way. A politician is elected mayor. He appoints a Chief who he favors BUT he’s going to appoint someone he knows is good and can do a good job. Why? Because he wants someone who ultimately makes him look good and who he doesn’t have to worry about.

    It used to be that in LA the Police Commission had the authority to hire and fire the LAPD Chief. Now the mayor had the power to pick the Commissioners but the commissioners had this quasi-independent ability to pick and choose as they wanted. And I think that at the time, mayors could not remove commissioners. This was how Daryl Gates, the controversial former chief, hung around for along as he did even though he and the Mayor hated each other (the mayor, Tom Bradley, had been elected in 1973 while Gates became chief in 1979).

    This was changed in 1992 by a citywide ballot initiative in the aftermath of the riots and other controversies. Now the mayor ultimately is responsible for hiring and firing the chief.

    I think this has been a good change. Ultimately it enables some political accountability for the police chief and the police department. We live in a democracy, that’s ultimately how it should be. Unelected department heads (police or any department) shouldn’t be able to run roughshod over the interests of the community and against what the electorate wants.

  16. Latest YouGov / The Sun results 14th November – Con 32%, Lab 40%, LD 10%, UKIP 13%; APP -24

    The APP is looking really detached from VI at the moment…(will check data later…)

    Five day rolling average:

    Con 32.4
    Lab 40
    LD 9.6
    UKIP 11.6

    Lab Lead 7.6


    -It may be that whether or not there is a technical recovery or whether or not debt is falling has lost resonance with the voters.

    It may be as with Ronald Reagan in the USA that Labour have successfully moved the Goal Posts and the issue now will be do voters feel better or worse off than they did in 2010.

    As for a large section the answer is and probably will remain until 2015 Worse off this may have an impact on VI While not impacting on approval ratings.

    Who ever Labour currently has countering Lynton Crosby is doing a good job and probably for rather less money.

  18. @ Mr Nameless

    It was me that posted about the ratios of retiring MPs – not an original idea I don’t think, and the names are after all listed on this site.

    Was looking at morale, how the parties rate their own chance s of success. Basically agree that many of the LD cohort (just adding a bit of jargon, hope you noticed) may be coming to the end of their careers. Even with 57 it’s quite a bit of research. May not quite take so long next time, but who knows.

    Had a day off from UKPR posting yesterday as it was my wedding anniversary.

    By the way, Police Commissioner – si chiama Montalbano.

  19. Congrats Alister and I trust you are still married.

  20. So next challenge for Lab – keep the average above 40.

  21. @ Crossbat11

    Check this out:

    Now, I just want to point out a few things. She’s not the first ever socialist ever elected to an office here nor is she the only one. That’s just lazy reporting. Here’s a list of all the Socialist Mayors in U.S. history.

    The most prominent one there is current Senator Bernie Sanders (S-Vermont). He’s in his second term and served in the House for 16 years before being elected. He doesn’t technically belong to an organized Socialist Party but he self-identifies as a socialist. I don’t know where he’d fall in Labour.

    Vito Marcantonio, a Congressman who was once a Republican, represented his New York district (East Harlem and Spanish Harlem) from 1938-1950 as a member of the American Labor Party, which was a Socialist Party. Victor Berger was the first Socialist member of Congress, elected in Wisconsin in 1910. Meyer London was the second Socialist member of Congress in 1914 (representing a district covering the lower east side of New York City).

  22. @ Crossbat11

    So my previous post went into moderation but I was doing some wikipedia research on one of the two Socialist Party members elected to Congress, Meyer London (S-New York). Now get this. He was defeated for reelection by drawing the ire of wealthy members of the Jewish community who did not like the socialism he preached as well as Socialists who opposed him for supporting war efforts in World War I (even though he opposed the war). The man who defeated him in again in 1922 was Democrat Samuel Dickstein. Dickstein helped found HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committee), which was part of those awful Red Scare purges and blacklisting in the 1950’s (a historical travesty and national embarrassment). He was a noted anti-communist.

    But this is one for “the man doth protest a little too much” files.

    Guess which member of Congress, it was learned in the late 1990’s (long after he was dead of course and could not face justice) was secretly on the NKVD’s payroll? Samuel Dickstein. Wow, disgusting.

  23. Apart from Callaghan, Major and Brown, who really had no choice but to run their full five year terms due to the dire state of their respective governments fortunes, most Parliaments in the modern political era have run for four years. Now, the interesting thing about that is that this current Parliament is only 7 months away from the time when most PMs, certainly the mega-successful electioneers,Thatcher and Blair, would have called an election. So, according to the lifespan of most post-war governments, this current Coalition is way past mid-term and fast approaching a stage when the electorate would normally pass judgement. Not a good time then, I would suggest, to see your VI ebbing slowly away again, after a minor revival, or, in the case of the Lib Dems, not even being able to discern a dead cat bounce.

    Of course, it’s perfectly possible that this government will defy the laws of electoral cycles, but every five year Parliament we’ve had since 1964 has seen the incumbent government slung out at the end of it. Not a great precedent, to be sure, and Cameron and Clegg will want to see fortunes change fairly quickly before May 2014 when I think, in most respects, the electorate might well have made up their minds about this Government and, to all intents and purposes, albeit without a ballot box to use, passed their judgement.

  24. Thank you Rosieand Daisie and yes, year 34 begins.

  25. I note that Centrica have issued a profits warning. The Miliband effect? I expect to see more of these from energy companies.

  26. @Crossbat XI

    There’s different between explaining to the electorate at the outset that the parliament will run for a fixed term of five years, and being forced by dint of circumstances to run for five years. That difference is expectation. In the former, the electorate has no expectation of a general election after four years; in the latter the electorate does.

    Another factor to consider is that the Tories will need some time before improvements in the economy feed into higher wages.

  27. @crossbat11

    Good point that. Mind you, they have clearly timed their housing bubble boom to be in full swing in good time for may 2015.

    I agree with fixed term parliaments – but five years is too long and this change to the system was brought in early by the coalition along with other changes to ensure they stayed in power – all with very little debate.

  28. @ CROSSBAT11

    & dear old Sir Alec Douglas Home – whose conservative government also hung on to 1964….

  29. @SoCalLiberal

    Fantastic! I don’t think I’ve seen that 1898 photograph of 3rd and Hill before… can you imagine it?

    Btw, I’ve found one or two online stores which sell old photos – hard to resist – and, what do you know, international postage from Lakewood, for example, works out cheaper than many UK sellers’ rates.

  30. SoCalLiberal

    I’m fairly sure Bernie Sanders is associated with (if not actually a member of) the Vermont Progressive Party. They’re the most successful current third party from what I understand.

  31. @Crossbat,

    In general I agree, but you’re ignoring 1987-1992 in your list.

    I would just say that I think that if the government hadn’t introduced a fixed parliament law, they would definitely not have been aiming for a GE after 4 years in any event. This would have been one of those parliaments that went the full 5 years whatever happened.

  32. @Billy Bob,

    About 15 years ago I had cause to order 100 custom-designed sew-on patches over the internet. There were two potential suppliers, one in Scotland and one in the States.

    Even allowing for more expensive P&P, and a tax levy on arrival in the UK, it was still cheaper to order from the States. That has always stuck in my mind whenever I think about the economic performance of the US vs the UK.

  33. @The Other Howard,

    Is that profits warning from Centrica in relation to their entire business? Or just their “retail arm”?

    Some of the other companies also have loss-making “retail arms” but make a reasonably healthy profit overall. The suggestion is of course that they are deliberately pricing the sale of energy from their wholesale arms to their retail arms to make sure that all of the profit is made from the former and not from the latter. I have no idea whether that’s true, but I think both main the government and opposition have said they want to examine the issue.

    The overall scale of profits across the companies doesn’t look (to me at least) particularly excessive compared to turnover, but I still think it’s worth getting to the bottom of this whole “vertical structuring” thing and finding out what the effect is on value for customers.

  34. @ RAF

    True but there’s a reason most governments prefer to go after four years. By the fifth year everyone’s getting a bit restless –electorate and elected. Has any government improved its position in that extra year?

    Also, even if it is really all down to the economy (far from certain IMO) and there’s a clear recovery by 2015 it’s still not clear from where the Tories will get the extra votes that weren’t available in 2010.

  35. @Neil A

    I’ve had one or two letter packets from the states recently, $1.10 in stamps… the cost to me is currently 68 pence.
    A UK seller would charge a pound minimum, often it’s flat £2.50 p&p.

  36. On the police chiefs – my view is ‘wot Socal sed’.

    Three in a row and I’m convinced that there is a widening gap now.

  37. Today the Cons are attempting to point the finger at Lab changes in 2004 as the cause of any A & E crises. This is indicative of why the Lab party is pulling ahead – they have made the Cons fight on Lab ground with cost of living ( chimes with the who is best for people like me poll findings) and now the NHS The Cons will never win on the NHS the best they can do is not to talk about it and ensure that it does not become an issue.

    The Cons need to move the argument back onto their ground. So I can only speculate as to why they didn’t make more of the Labs bedroom tax vote – did they miss a trick or are they losing confidence in the scroungers v skivers meme?

  38. @ Neil A

    Indeed, your point about vertically integrated firms structured as conglomerates is very good. It’s a general pattern.

    The two major bread making (don’t want to call them bakeries) are loss-making or make very little profits. Both are owned by milling companies and milling is extremely profitable.

  39. @Howard

    AW has updated his graphs (thanks, AW), and they bear out your point. Labour’s recovery from a wobbly summer is quite apparent now.

  40. @Neil A

    “In general I agree, but you’re ignoring 1987-1992 in your list.”

    You’re quite right, I’d overlooked that Parliament, although it almost felt like a two-year term once Thatcher went and Major ascended to the throne in 1990. I suppose you could say something similar about Callaghan’s government once Wilson stood down, although I think old Sunny Jim might have said that 1976-79 felt like ten years and not three!

  41. Labour lead now on average pretty much the same as in November 2012 or indeed November 2011.

    With less than 18 Months to go the Hill to climb for the Conservatives to be the largest party [snip] seems as steep and high as ever.

    The Bookies all have Labour Odds On for outright victory

  42. “did they miss a trick or are they losing confidence in the scroungers v skivers meme?”

    The scroungers v skivers rhetoric is great to start with, as it does resonate with voters who do believe there are people conning the system, but as I said many years ago it reaches a tipping point of no return and then starts to work against the people using that rhetoric…

    At first people sit back thinking the scroungers are being taught a lesson and have to get off their arses… that’s the short term.

    But as the “scroungers” suddenly become the people they know or even family members, the perception starts to change, this change stated a while ago and it is a cascade effect, it just spreads wider as more people are caught up, the vulnerable people like the sick and disabled have families who never thought the rhetoric being used referred to their family members who are in genuine need.

    I think those in power forget you can move the requirements to claim help to save money, but it is not going to change the fact that the people affected need that help.

    Telling someone you are fit enough to work, or walk, because the requirements have changed will not alter the fact they cannot do either, this is going to come back and haunt the government, people do not forget or forgive.

  43. Cooper,

    I doubt Labour will want to push too far on the NHS with Burnham still at the helm. Miliband may regret not removing him.

  44. Speaking of elected officials I was at a pub in Clifton last night, listening to some cool jazz and the mayor of Bristol was there. Now he’s between a rock and a hard place ‘cos he’s got to cut about 800 Full time equivalent jobs from the city council’s work force, which is more than 10% of the total.This chap was a LD councillor until about 3 months before the mayoral election and then declared his independence. Obviously , seeing Clegg and Co. Taking the bullet for the Tories he thought he’d have a go locally. Talk about snatching up a poisoned chalice!

  45. “I can only speculate as to why they didn’t make more of the Labs bedroom tax vote – did they miss a trick or are they losing confidence in the scroungers v skivers meme?”

    Same reason, pretty much – if the Bedroom Tax becomes the major issue, there’s a reasonable chance they’ll lose out heavily since the emotionally charged stories are largely on the ‘anti-‘ side.

    I suppose the government is trying to downplay its importance by having IDS absent. Once a Secretary of State turns up, it stops looking like a protest vote and more like the government thinks it could lose.

  46. Sorry, metaphor overload.

  47. It’s not not just the vertical integration. They can also disguise profits by reinventing them in buying up assets and other companies, thus entrenching their position and reducing competition, allowing further profiteering.

  48. EL
    I had the impression he was having the time of his life (I follow the local papers). Did he look haggard to you?

    (EL and I are talking about George Ferguson, an architect, socialite and closet Lib Dem).

  49. As if that wasn’t enough, claims they need the profits for more energy infrastructure are decidedly dodgy too. Take a look at this….

    “Ramsay Dunning, the general manager of Co-operative Energy, one of Britain’s biggest independent gas and electricity suppliers, goes one further, dismissing talk of profits for investment as a “red herring” and accusing Ms Knight of being “disingenuous” as the cost of investment has already been accounted for.

    “She is throwing mud into the water with that comment because the 4 to 5 per cent number she is using is calculated after accounting for the cost of investment,” he said. In other words, the notion that big profits are needed to help fund investment is largely irrelevant because the profit margins usually quoted by the Big Six already include investment costs.

    The Big Six produce electricity via a mixture of gas, coal, nuclear, wind and solar-power stations. Although the retail arms buy their energy on the open market, much of it has been produced by their own generating divisions. It is these generating divisions that face the biggest investment costs in the coming years in the form of new power stations of all types, Mr Straw said.

    But the generating arms’ profit margins are much higher anyway – at between 8 and 32 per cent last year, depending on the company– while they also receive big government subsidies to encourage low-carbon generation.

    “The Big Six can’t have it both ways,” Mr Straw said. “Either their retail and generation arms are separate, or they’re not. If they are, they should bring energy bills down because they don’t need that much profit. If they’re not, they should still bring bills down because the generating arms are making so much.”

    Centrica, which owns British Gas, handed £500m to its shareholders in February to use up “surplus” cash after pulling out of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project.”

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