Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Monday, 19 November 2012

May rejects Labour demand for apology over PCC elections

Home Secretary Theresa May has dismissed calls from Labour to apologise for ignoring warnings about the organisation of the recent police and crime commissioner (PCC) elections.

At her departmental question session on 19 November 2012, Mrs May defended the policy, saying PCCs would be "important voice for people in force area in terms of policing in their local communities".

But she also told MPs that "between March 2010 and March 2012, the total number of front-line officers fell by 6,778".

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Mrs May had chosen "to spend £100m on having these elections and transition that could have been spent on 3,000 police officers this year".

The public had been "denied... proper information" about the candidates, Ms Cooper claimed, noting that turnout had been below 15% in the 41 English and Welsh police areas electing a PCC.

The government has faced criticism for not providing funding for a mailshot from PCC candidates on their policies, and for holding the poll in November.

"She was warned, in the Commons, the Lords, by the Electoral Commission, by the Electoral Reform Society, that those decisions were wrong," Ms Cooper said.

The Labour MP continued: "People didn't want these elections last week. They said it was a waste of money, they said they didn't know anything about it, the objected to the policy and they didn't want to vote in the dark.

"She didn't listen to those warnings," Ms Cooper said. "Why doesn't she listen and why doesn't she apologise?"

The home secretary replied: "I make no apology for introducing PCCs who have a democratic mandate for the first time.

"For the first time the public know that there is somebody who has been elected, who is visible, accessible and accountable to the public. They replaced invisible, unelected and unaccountable police authorities.

"I think PCCs are going to make a real difference to cutting crime in this country."

Conservative MP James Gray argued PCCs would be "central to deciding how we can use scarce resources to the best effect in tackling crime".

Home Office: Government and opposition

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