Miliband fears over ‘invisible’ police chief elections

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Ed Miliband hit the campaign trail yesterday to launch Labour’s bid to win the forthcoming elections for police and crime commissioners.

But Mr Miliband said the elections were in danger of being “invisible” as he met voters in Preston, Lancashire.

“These are perhaps the least-known elections in the history of elections,” Mr Miliband said.

There are concerns the relatively low-profile of the vote, dark nights and wintry weather could push turnout as low as 15 per cent.

Yesterday Mr Miliband visited the Catherine Beckett Centre in Preston to speak to residents and local shop-keepers about how they are tackling crime on their streets.

Locals set up a residents’ association to get CCTV cameras installed in the area and the initiative, started in 2009, has seen crime fall between 50 per cent and 75 per cent.

But locals also told Mr Miliband there had been recent cuts in policing in the area with fewer officers on the beat.

After speaking to locals, Mr Miliband said: “The response has been very positive about what’s happening here because I think people recognise that things like CCTV has made a real difference to this community.

“But at the same time there are concerns because people are seeing front line police numbers, the number of police community support officers falling, so I think there is good news locally about what’s being done but people sometimes feel they are fighting against a national government that doesn’t properly value the role of our police.”

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

The new commissioners will control police budgets, set priorities and have the power to hire and fire chief constables.

Mr Miliband was accompanied on his visit by Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, and Clive Grunshaw, Labour’s candidate for the position of police and crime commissioner in Lancashire.