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  1. ITV Report

Almost half of Police and Crime Comissioners don't want to be re-elected or are undecided, ITV News has found

By Rebecca Barry, ITV News

ITV News has found that almost half (44%) of the Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales don’t want to be re-elected or are still undecided whether they're standing again.

The majority - 66% - of those choosing not to stand again at the elections on 5th May are Conservatives, even though the reform was a Tory manifesto pledge.

Northamptonshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Adam Simmonds, is one of the many who've decided not to face the public vote again.

He's been described by the government as one of the "most forward-thinking" in the country, but he told ITV News "we are all frustrated with coming up against brick walls where the powers don't allow us to go that far."

Credit: PA

At 38 years-old, Adam Simmonds is the youngest Police and Crime Commissioner in the country, but says he's found the last 3 years "exhausting" and warns unless his successors are given more power they risk becoming lame ducks.

The danger is that if the government doesn't allow PCCs to accrue more powers and influence within the system, they just turn into another elected individual that people might have lost some confidence in.

And you therefore recruit people who are only in this because they like the idea of being elected.

– Adam Simmonds, Northants PCC

In 2012, 41 Police and Crime Commissioners were elected across England and Wales, replacing the old Police Authorities.

The coalition government promised they'd be "a voice for local people" and hold police forces to account.

But voter turn-out was at a record low (around 15%) and since then PCCs have been plagued by allegations of cronyism and money-wasting.

Research by ITV News has found the annual wage bill for all staff within all the Offices for Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales totals £29,887,123.

£76,951
Average salary for a UK Police and Crime Commissioner. Some earn over £100,000.

Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Alan Charles, who's a former Labour Councillor, was initially sceptical about the cost of the elections. But, three years on, he insists the project has been a success.

Although, he told ITV News that some of his colleagues underestimated the job:

Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles. Credit: ITV News

I think a lot of people did come into the job thinking it would be a nice retirement job for them, it would be a couple of days a week.

Most certainly every Police and Crime Commissioner has found out that's not the case, it is more than a full time job.

– Alan Charles, Derbyshire PCC

ITV News also found that less than 5% of staff employed by Police and Crime Commissioners are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

This is far lower than the general UK workforce, where that figure is 12%.

Bernard Rix, who monitors the work of police and crime commissioners says "Police forces themselves are criticised for the low proportion of ethnic minority staff that they have.

Police and Crime Commissioners and their offices have an even worse record on this front, and that is an area where they should have done much better over the last three years."

Bernard Rix says it's still difficult to hold failing PCCs to account Credit: ITV News

He told ITV News it's still difficult to hold failing PCCs to account.

Some of those PCCs have clearly put in a great deal of time and effort into the work that they have done.

Others have been less visible, in some cases almost invisible, and that really is a problem of the system, that those who are invisible, it's been nigh on impossible even for police and crime panels, who are there to monitor their work, to hold them to account.

– Bernard Rix

Minister for Policing, Fire, Criminal Justice and Victims Mike Penning told ITV News that “Police reform is working and crime is continuing to fall. PCCs will be held to account for the way they have performed at the ballot box when the next national PCC elections take place in May this year."

However, critics might say, with so many choosing not to even face the public vote, the electorate has been denied the right to fully scrutinise their work.