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Government criticised over lack of PCC leaflets

By WMNAGreenwood  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

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The Government has been criticised for ignoring calls by an independent watchdog to hand out information booklets to every household in the run up to the next police and crime commissioner (PCC) elections.

The Electoral Commission recommended a printed candidate leaflet is sent to all voters after it found just one in five people were able to make an informed decision when voting for their £100,000-a-year PCC.

In its response to the report, the Government said it did not accept the recommendation but would instead keep the advice under review.

The lack of leaflets was among many complaints about the PCC elections in Devon and Cornwall in which Tony Hogg was elected.

One of the candidates said the lack of information means the Government had only done ““half a job” on one of its flagship policies.

Just 15.1% of registered voters took part in the November 2012 PCC election – the lowest recorded level of participation at a peacetime non-local government election in Britain.

Electoral Commission chairwoman Jenny Watson said: “The Government has failed to learn the lessons from last November’s PCC elections.

“Turnout was 15%. People told us they wanted more information about candidates so they would know who to vote for. Candidates said they found it hard to communicate across large constituencies.

“We are disappointed that the Government has not accepted our recommendation that a candidate information booklet should be sent to every household at the next elections. They should reconsider while there is still time.”

The commission said the Home Office needs to make clear by May 2014 how and when they will make changes to existing PCC legislation ahead of the next polls.

In its response to the commission’s report, which was published in March, the Government said its approach to publicising the PCC elections was in line with its “digital by default” strategy in a bid to balance the cost to the taxpayer with the benefit to the public.

The response said: “The Government will keep under review the sending of printed information to all electors at future PCC elections, whilst acknowledging that a ‘’digital by default“ approach has advantages to some electors compared with printed mailings.

“Any change to the existing legislative requirements would need careful consideration in the context of wider legislation on the provision of information to electors at statutory elections.”

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