Turnout is low as voters elect police commissioners


Rachel Roberts

THE FIRST Police and Crime Commissioners for North Wales and Cheshire have been elected.

Winston Roddick, Independent candidate, barrister and former senior legal adviser to the Assembly, was announced as North Wales commissioner after the count at Deeside College on Friday, with 35,688 votes.

In Cheshire, the Conservatives’ John Dwyer was elected after polling 48,591 votes.

In his election statement, Mr Roddick said: “I will put the needs of the ratepayers at the top of my priorities and work with the chief constable, officers and staff to ensure the best possible service. I will reach out and work across North Wales to ensure the service develops partnerships both inside and outside the criminal justice system.”

Mr Roddick, who grew up in Caernarfon, served as a beat officer in Liverpool before studying law in London and becoming a barrister.

He was the Recorder of the Crown Court on the Chester and North Wales circuit and is about to stand down as a judge.

He was Wales’s first Counsel General and helped write the first Welsh Language Act.

Mr Roddick said he believes the most pressing concern for the public is security at home and in public places. He emphasises the need for a visible police presence on the street and opposes closures of police stations in villages and towns. He also opposes the idea of privatising the police force.

In his manifesto Mr Dwyer, a former assistant chief constable, promised to crackdown on anti-social yobs and double the number of special constables.

He said: “As commissioner I am the voice of the people and it is the people’s priorities that must and will be built into the policing plan. Cheshire is a fantastic place to live and with the police and public in partnership we can make it an even better place to live.”

Disappointing voter turnout figures were revealed as the counts got under way.

The total votes cast from a possible 524,252 electorate across North Wales came to 79,906, meaning a turnout average of 15.2 per cent.

Just 13.3 per cent of the electorate voted in Flintshire, while in Wrexham just 12.2 per cent voted.

Conwy came in at 16 per cent, Denbighshire votes totalled 16.7 per cent, Gwynedd voters made up 17.7 per cent, with Anglesey having the strongest figure at 17.8 per cent of the votes.

The turnout for Cheshire was just 14 per cent.

Jenny Watson, chairman of the Electoral Commission, said: “The low turnout at the Police and Crime Commissioner elections is a concern for everyone who cares about democracy.

“The commission is going to undertake a thorough review, and we will present our findings to Parliament in early 2013.”

See full story in the Leader

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