Call to boycott police vote ‘deeply irresponsible’

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A FORMER Scotland Yard commissioner who called for voters to boycott next month’s elections for police and crime commissioners (PCCs) was “deeply irresponsible”, the Policing Minister has said.

Lord Blair’s comments that he hoped voters would stay away because it was not an appropriate system were “wrong”, Damian Green said.

“Whatever happens, and however many thousands of people turn out to vote in each force area, every single PCC will have more legitimacy to make important decisions than the existing unaccountable, invisible police authorities,” he added.

Speaking at a Policy Exchange conference in Birmingham, Mr Green said: “Our plans mean a return to what the public wants from the criminal justice system: a focus on what works. This is why the election is so important and the public should vote.

“Lord Blair was wrong and deeply irresponsible to say the public should not take part in a democratic election.

“Parliament decided to establish police and crime commissioners and allow the public to have their say through the election of their local PCC.”

The comments come after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling strongly condemned Lord Blair’s call for a boycott.

“I think it is a very silly thing to say. I am very sorry he said that,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday.

“We should not have a former senior police officer making a comment like this.”

Amid fears that turnout for the November polls could hit record lows, Lord Blair told the Sky News Murnaghan programme he would recommend voters not to bother.

“I’ve never said this before
but I actually hope people don’t vote because that is the only
way we are going to stop this,” he said.

“I’ve always been someone who says vote.”

Voters across England and Wales are due to go to the polls on November 15 to elect a police and crime commissioner for each force area outside London.