PCC election reform will ensure results reflect voters’ views, says APCC

Police and crime commissioners (PCCs) have welcomed the Government’s announcement that future elections for mayors and PCCs will move to a ‘First Past the Post’ system.

Sep 16, 2021
By Paul Jacques
Marc Jones

Association of Police and Crime Commissioners chair Marc Jones said this will ensure the “outcomes of elections always accurately reflect voters’ views and preferences”.

Currently, the election of PCCs across England and Wales and council and ‘metro’ mayors in England uses a “complex and confusing” Supplementary Vote system, which means that a ‘loser’ candidate can win on second preferences.

Minister for the Constitution and Devolution Chloe Smith said: “The change to First Past the Post will further strengthen the accountability of elected mayors and PCCs to their electorate, making it easier for voters to express a clear choice. The person chosen to represent a local area should be the one who directly receives the most votes.”

She added: “In this May’s London Mayoral elections, the Supplementary Vote system saw hundreds of thousands void, wasted or blank votes cast, reflecting voter confusion and the complex system.

“The tried and tested system First Past the Post is fair and simple – the person with the most votes wins.”

Mr Jones said: “Our members across the political spectrum applaud the Government’s commitment, following Part One of the PCC Review, to move future PCC elections to First Past the Post. It is our accountability at the ballot box that enables us to be an effective, connected, and credible voice for the public on policing and crime reduction.

“The current Supplementary Voting system is less well understood than First Past the Post and has an impact on the public’s willingness and ability to participate in PCC elections in an informed way. Adopting First Past the Post will ensure the outcomes of elections always accurately reflect voters’ views and preferences.”

Minister for Policing Kit Malthouse said: “We are strengthening the accountability and role of PCCs, to help cut crime and deliver on the people’s priorities.”

Luke Hall, Minister for Local Government, said the supplementary vote is “an anomaly which confuses the public and is out of step with other elections in England”, both local and national.

“Moving to First Past the Post will make it easier for voters to express a clear choice,” he added.

Ms Smith said the changes will be brought forward in an amendment to the Elections Bill at committee stage.

She said: “Including these changes in the Elections Bill will ensure that they are implemented ahead of the next scheduled PCC elections in May 2024. This timetable will give good notice to all future candidates and electoral administrators of the change in voting system to First Past the Post well in advance of these elections, in accordance with Electoral Commission guidance.”

However, Mr Jones is urging the Government to extend the current term of office for PCCs and mayors to four years, so that the next elections are held in May 2025 and “align to the local government cycle”.

He said: “Our current three-year term from 2021 to 2024 is an anomaly brought about by the one-year delay to the elections initially scheduled for 2020. A full four-year term would ensure adequate time to consult on, produce, and deliver ambitious Police and Crime Plans on behalf of our communities.

“Furthermore, by aligning PCC elections to the local government cycle we increase turnout, while reducing the overall costs of local elections.”

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