Voters in the dark over big change to policing

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If West Yorkshire is to become a key battleground at the November elections, candidates will need to pay attention to views of voters in wards like Roundhay in Leeds.

Labour and the Conservatives ran each other close here at the last council election, but it seems the main parties have work to do to make residents aware of their pledges on crime and safety.

The problem is not apathy – more than 71 per cent of the Roundhay electorate turned out to vote in 2010 – but a lack of publicity about the forthcoming poll and what it means for policing.

Of 10 shoppers and retailers interviewed by the Yorkshire Post on Roundhay Road in Oakwood, only one knew governance of West Yorkshire Police would soon be in the hands of a single commissioner.

Charles Butcher, 68, has only been a victim of crime once – when his family tailoring business was smashed in about 10 years ago – but he said the way police dealt with it was “disgusting” because officers were too slow.

It sounds like a typical complaint for a commissioner to take up, but Mr Butcher is opposed to the new system: “There should be a committee that votes, not just one person.”

Malcolm Hird, 70, said he feared commissioners and elected mayors would create another costly layer of Government.

Retired couple Malcolm and Audrey Robinson, aged 73 and 75, said: “They should spend more time tackling drug problems and less time pursuing motorists.”