Apathy wins in campaign to elect new crime chief

Picture shows The Police And Crime Commissioner election count in Barnsley to select a new PCC for South Yorkshire after the resignation of Shaun Wright.'Andrew McCaren/Rossparry.co.uk

Picture shows The Police And Crime Commissioner election count in Barnsley to select a new PCC for South Yorkshire after the resignation of Shaun Wright.'Andrew McCaren/Rossparry.co.uk

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Just 14 voters visited a Sheffield polling station to choose the county’s current crime chief, new figures have revealed.

The lowest turnout in the city was recorded at the Longley 4G Community Centre on October 30 last year – although 721 people were eligible to vote there in the £1.6 million election for a new South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

Data obtained from councils through The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign also shows just 12 votes were cast in person at the AMRC Design Prototyping and Testing Centre on Wallis Way in Rotherham which contained two polling stations.

The lowest number of voters overall was recorded in Doncaster, as staff manning the town’s All Saints Church and St Albans Church venues saw just three people all day. The apathetic response was despite the by-election being more high profile as it was sparked by the resignation of Shaun Wright in the wake of the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal.

John Mothersole, chief executive and returning officer at Sheffield Council, stressed voting was a ‘personal choice’. But he added: “I think it is a great shame when people don’t vote because if they have an opinion on something voting is the chance to do something about what you think.

“The PCC election was a strange one because it was a highly visible issue in the few weeks before polling day so it can’t have been a case that people weren’t aware and lots of people had an opinion.

“There were experiments some years ago with different forms of voting and personally I am in favour.

“I think the current model where you can only turn up at a polling station or post a letter isn’t exactly 21st century.”

The highest turnout across Sheffield polling stations was at 364, at Nether Edge Primary School.

In Rotherham 184 people attended Ravenfield Parish Hall on Birchwood Drive, and in Doncaster 186 people went to St Mary’s Church stable block.

Barnsley council did not provide data requested.

Dr Rev Alan Billings was elected to replace Mr Wright on an overall turnout of 14.88 per cent, slightly lower than the same election in 2012.

It meant each vote cost the Home Office – which foots the bill – around £10.

Labour PCC Dr Billings said it was ‘difficult’ to assess the figures because they did not include postal votes which often counted for a majority.

Asked if the cost of holding the election was worth it, he said: “It’s not for me in a sense to have any views on that, I think that is a matter for the public themselves.

“Our view is that we are opposed to the post of the PCC and one reason is because we think it costs an awful lot of money.”

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