PCC elections in Leicestershire: Who are we voting for?
A tiny fraction of voters could name the three candidates in next week’s election of Leicestershire’s first police and crime commissioner.
The Leicester Mercury questioned 150 people in the city centre to assess public awareness of next week’s vote.
Just eight of the 150 could name the three candidates – Sir Clive Loader, Sarah Russell and Suleman Nagdi.
Just under half of the people we spoke to could name the two candidates in the US presidential election – Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
The survey, conducted last week, provided further evidence of the public’s lack of awareness of the police commissioner election, which will take place on Thursday, November 15.
It follows a poll by the Mercury in September, which found 82 per cent of 150 respondents were then unaware of the forthcoming election.
The Electoral Reform Society has suggested just 18.5 per cent of people nationwide will vote.
Sam Bennett, 46, of Stoney Stanton said: “I know nothing about the three people who are up for election. We received the voting forms in the post the other day but without knowing what they stand for, you can’t vote. It should be better publicised.”
Victoria King, 34, of Spinney Hills, Leicester, said: “I will be voting and I do know who the candidates are because I’ve been following the stories in the Mercury.
“What I don’t know is what kind of an impact the commissioner will have when he or she gets the job.”
Dr James Treadwell, a criminologist at the University of Leicester, said: “I’m not surprised that so few people could name the police commissioner candidates, but you would think more people would be able to name Obama and Romney – they have been all over the news for weeks”.
“It would be easy to say the police and crime commissioner election doesn’t really matter, but it is potentially a very influential role.”
The Home Office launched a nationwide advertising campaign to boost awareness of the election last month.
The three Leicestershire candidates are currently busy on the campaign trail, visiting towns, villages and city neighbourhoods to encourage people to vote.
Conservative candidate, former Air Chief Marshal Sir Clive Loader, said: “When I go out on the streets I still meet people who know precious little about what the police and crime commissioner is going to do.
“Things are ramping up though, as the election approaches, and of course we all want a high turnout, but that is not going to change the commitment of whoever becomes the commissioner here.”
Labour candidate Sarah Russell, an assistant mayor of Leicester, said: “I’m meeting more people who know about the election than I was a few weeks ago, but there is still very little understanding of what the role is about.
“I’m not particularly surprised that very few people could name the candidates here, but it’s very sad that so few people knew the names of the US election candidates.
“The presidential election will have a long-term impact on the world economy and peace and security in the world.”
Leicester community worker and businessman Suleman Nagdi, who is standing as an independent, said: “The turnouts for the hustings we have had so far have been reasonably good and that is very positive.
“We have to encourage people to use their votes. It is something which people in other parts of the world aspire to and people have died for in the past.”