Page last updated at 15:31 GMT, Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Minister defends police crime commissioners elections

A Home Office minister has defended the operation and turnout of the recent police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach told peers more than five million people voted, giving commissioners "an infinitely bigger mandate than the unelected and largely invisible police authorities they have replaced".

Lord Taylor said the government expected turnout to be higher in future elections once people see the "real impact" of PCCs.

The elections saw a record low in terms of national turnout - less than 15% in 41 areas.

Labour peer Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Lord Taylor: "Does this really give a valid mandate to these new commissioners?"

The Conservatives' Lord Waddington suggested turnout could have been "very much higher" if the poll was taken at the same day as local elections, however - and blamed the Liberal Democrats for the vote "not being taken at the right time".

Lord Taylor said this would be the case for the next set of elections, which would be taken "three and a half years from now, in May".

The commissioners will be in post until 2016 and will have the power to set policing priorities, budgets and also to hire and fire chief constables.

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