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Watchdog pans lack of PCC election leaflets

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 13, 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 elections for police and crime commissioners (PCC).

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

The lack of leaflets was among many complaints about the Devon and Cornwall PCC elections 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.

Chairman of the Electoral Commission 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 2016.

In its response to the commission's report, which was published in March, the Government yesterday said it would keep the issue of leaflets "under review".

It added: "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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