Crime and Punishment and Exercising Democracy

police

Crime and Punishment

Why Didn’t More People Exercise the Freedom of Democracy?

By Rebecca MacKay

As some of you might have been aware, the elections for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) took place last November and the ballot box turnout was a dismal 15.1%. Martin Surl, an independent with no affiliation to a particular party, was voted as our PCC for Gloucestershire. Personally, during the time of the elections, I was following every new update with rapt interest. Were you?

No.

Don’t worry – you weren’t alone. More than half the adult population didn’t submit their votes for whom exactly was going to be given control of the police force in their area.

Well, THAT’S comforting.

To give you a run down, your local area was originally run by something called The Police Authority: seventeen members overseeing what’s done with the tax money given to them. The new system, involving Police and Crime Commissioners, replaces this with one elected person, voted by the people, for the people.

Okay, enough with the corny catchphrases.

But seriously, this was a move administered by the government to rectify the concerns it had with the previous system, particularly regarding the lack of accountability of Police Authorities towards the areas they served. Essentially, the local PCC is an individual who is directly responsible and accountable for all police action in your area. So, a pretty important job.

Why, then, did so few people vote?

Theory Number 1: People don’t care. It’s the same situation that we had in the 2010 election, in which a high percentage of people didn’t vote because of their belief that all parties are the same and that their vote won’t change anything. In this case, people view the changes as irrelevant to their lives and thus, see no point in voting.

THIS IS TOTALLY WRONG.

Theory Number 2: How many of you actually knew how the police force was run, what the PCC is, or how the new changes have affected the Police Force, before I briefly outlined it, above?  I’m willing to bet hardly anyone.

The electorate was the same. In a way, it is the fault of the government for the lack of information given (I, myself, had to do some serious ‘google-ing’ to write this) and for the general belief of society’s, an incorrect assumption, that the policy doesn’t change things.

It does.

What strikes me as odd is that it IS the people’s money being put to use. Do they not care what happens to their taxes? Whether it goes towards guard dogs or police vehicles? Well, the thing is, they DO care and that’s what gets me most.

On average, 13-20% of people voted for their choice of PCC, and yet Britain continues to moan and groan about the usage of public money. To be honest, if you don’t vote for how you want your money to be used, how can you still expect to get exactly what you want?

I know this is not the most pressing issue facing the United Kingdom right now, but it is still important. The general ignorance towards these matters is worrying, as is the attitude of ‘it doesn’t matter’.

The next time an opportunity like this arises, take the opportunity to educate yourself and become involved actively, through discussion and through raising awareness. If you are over 18, get out to the ballot box. We are lucky enough to live in a democracy; exercise this freedom.

Think about it.

Photography: by astronomy_blog on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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