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Police and Crime Commissioners

Volume 553: debated on Monday 19 November 2012

I welcome Tony Lloyd to his new role as the first police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester. I am writing, I hope today, to all PCCs in advance of their assuming office on Thursday, to congratulate them and to invite them to join me and my ministerial team for an event on 3 December.

I am grateful for that answer and for the warm welcome from the Home Secretary. I am sure that when she meets Tony Lloyd, she will want to thank him for standing in the election because without Labour last Thursday, the turnout in Greater Manchester would have been lower than 7%. Given the level of concern expressed during the campaign about antisocial behaviour, will she review her current approach and, instead of rebranding and weakening antisocial behaviour orders, will she work with Tony Lloyd and other police and crime commissioners to strengthen the law in this respect so that those who make other people’s lives unbearable can be dealt with effectively?

I note that Tony Lloyd, referring to the turnout at the elections, said:

“It doesn’t take away the mandate of the PCC… That, like any good politician, is earned not only at the election; it’s earned by working with the public, being there to listen to the public and to represent the public.”

On antisocial behaviour orders, we are strengthening the ability of the police and others to work against antisocial behaviour. Crucially, we are giving local communities and individuals greater powers, such as the community trigger, which will enable people, if action is not being taken on antisocial behaviour, to require that action is taken. That did not happen under the Labour party.

Let me tell the Home Secretary:

“What we ended up with was a toxic mix of low voter awareness about the role, the absence of an active public information campaign, near silence from politicians and polling day moved to a time of year when it gets dark at 4 pm.”

Those are the words of the Conservative Member for Bournemouth West (Conor Burns). In truth, Members across the House have raised concerns about the elections. Does she accept that any mistakes were made?

As I have said elsewhere, of course I am disappointed about the turnout. I believe that the turnout at the next elections will be higher because people will have seen police and crime commissioners in their role and the commissioners will have a record to defend, as the right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East (Paul Goggins) has just said, but it was up to politicians across the board and others to go out and campaign, and the Government did run an awareness campaign. I return to the point I made at the beginning of Question Time: police and crime commissioners replace police authorities, which were invisible, unaccountable and unelected. Police and crime commissioners are elected, visible, accessible and, crucially, accountable to the people.