Who are you? Our police and crime commissioner survey shows a shocking apathy towards next month’s elections and Norfolk and Suffolk’s candidates standing in them

PUBLISHED: 13:23 24 October 2012 | UPDATED: 17:59 24 October 2012

PCC Candidates addressing the Ecumenical Criminal Justice Forum at Granary Court. Photo: Steve Adams

PCC Candidates addressing the Ecumenical Criminal Justice Forum at Granary Court. Photo: Steve Adams

With less than a month to go to the first police and crime commissioner elections, three per cent of people know who the candidates in the region are and only 25 per cent are planning to vote, an EDP poll has revealed.

Landmark elections will be held on November 15 to choose police and crime commissioners who will replace police authorities currently in charge of 41 police forces in England and Wales.

Police and crime commissioners will, according to the government, give power back to the people and make forces more accountable.

But last night, as candidates for the £70,000 a year post in Norfolk and Suffolk were confirmed, a survey carried out by EDP reporters of people living in Norwich, King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Dereham, Cromer, Beccles, Lowestoft and Diss revealed the overwhelming levels of apathy.

Reporters took to the streets of Norfolk and Suffolk with pictures of the full list of candidates in the respective counties to find out if people knew who they were, or if they were going to vote.

Our poll found of a total of 138 people surveyed found:

Just five (three per cent) knew who the candidates were, while 133 (97per cent) did not.

Just 35 people (25 per cent) intended to vote, 95 people (68 per cent) did not, while eight (six per cent) did not know whether they would or not.

Of the 20 people asked in Norwich, only two could name the five Norfolk candidates - Steve Morphew (Labour), Jamie Athill (Conservative), James Joyce (Lib Dem), Stephen Bett (independent) and Matthew Smith (UKIP) - and only one would be voting.

In Cromer again two of the 20 people asked knew who the candidates were, but nine of those asked indicated they would be voting.

One of those who would be voting, even though she did not know who all the candidates were, was Joan Stride, 81, who is retired and from Cromer. She said: “I think it’s something that concerns every resident in the area. It’s a shame they are all from political parties though. I would like to know about the other things they have done and what they are concerned with and what they have contributed too.”

But Christine Graham, 61, of Wood Road, Cromer, said: “It does not matter who you vote for, I don’t think it will make a difference.”

None of the 20 people asked in Dereham could name any of the county candidates and only one was a possible voter.

John Brooks said: “If I knew who they were and what they represented then I might vote but I can’t at the moment because I know nothing about them.”

And Malcolm Cross said: “I got the leaflet yesterday to vote but I don’t know them so I won’t bother.”

Sue Phillips, 43, from Scarning, who works for the NHS, said: “I will see how I feel on the day. At the moment I don’t know anything about them so it would be a lucky guess.”

Again in King’s Lynn, where 12 people were asked, no-one knew who the candidates were and just four were intending to vote.

Accountant Michael Pellizaro, from King’s Lynn, who did not know who they were said: “If someone sends me some information about what they’re going to do I might vote.”

Therapist Amanda Goss, from Norwich, said: “They do all look familiar.” On voting she added: “I haven’t thought about it.”

Computer operator Donna Wyatt, 44, from Downham: “People died so I can vote, so I do intend to.”

And Sales executive Karen Everitt, 50, from Hilgay: “One or two look slightly familiar but I couldn’t say. It depends if I get sent any information about it.”

Meanwhile just one of the 20 people asked in Great Yarmouth - where UKIP candidate Matthew Smith is from - knew who the Norfolk candidates were and four were planning to vote.

In Suffolk, where Jane Basham, David Cocks, Tim Passmore and Bill Mountford are seeking election, none of the 20 people in Beccles asked knew who they were.

Self-employed landscaper Simon Wilson, of Glebe View, Beccles, said he didn’t know who they were but would vote in the Suffolk election.

He said: “I think there is a need for us to have this. I have got two children and want to look after their welfare. Having your say is important to me.”

In Lowestoft, again just one of the 20 people asked knew the candidates, while seven of those surveyed wanted to vote. Norman Jones, 61, from Kessingland, said he did not know any of the four candidates but would be voting. He said: “Well someone has got to do the job haven’t they?”

A recent poll of 1,281 adults commissioned by the Transitional Board of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) shows that 62 per cent of people are now aware of the elections.

The Ipsos MORI poll suggests that with a month until the first 41 Police and Crime Commissioners begin to oversee police forces and tackle crime across England and Wales, most voters have clear views about who they would vote for, almost a fifth of those who say they ‘definitely’ will vote are undecided about who to support.

In an article in yesterday’s EDP which confirmed Norfolk’s five police and crime commissioner candidates UKIP’s candidate was incorrectly named. The candidate’s name is Matthew Smith.

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