Big Issue Vendor

What is a police and crime commissioner and when are the elections?

Do you know what a police and crime commissioner actually does? Don’t worry if the answer is no, we’ve compiled a guide with everything you need to know.
Police and crime commissioners scrutinise local policing Image credit: West Midlands Police / Flickr

Candidates have been announced for all 39 police and crime commissioner roles up for grabs in England and Wales during next month’s local elections.

Following the recent Kill the Bill protests about proposals for new police powers and controversy surrounding the scenes at the vigil for Londoner Sarah Everard, the issue of policing is firmly on the agenda.

But some of us might be unsure who our police and crime commissioners are and what they do. Don’t worry, here’s what you need to know. 

What is a police and crime commissioner? 

Police and crime commissioners are tasked with ensuring local policing meets the needs of a specific area. 

Each police force in England and Wales is represented by a police and crime commissioner, or PCC for short. There are 39 due to be elected in May’s local elections. 

You can contact your local PCC about: 

  • How your area is policed
  • The police budget
  • The amount of council tax charged for the police
  • The information you get about what the local police are doing

The police and crime commissioner elections only cover forces in England and Wales. 

However, the Metropolitan Police Service, Greater Manchester Police, West Yorkshire Police and City of London Police areas are not included. 

Here, the scrutiny functions usually carried out by PCCs are exercised by either the mayor of London, combined authority mayors for Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire or the Court of the Common Council, which is part of London’s City Corporation. 

How do I find the police and crime commissioner near me? 

You can find your local PCC through the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners

The ChooseMyPCC website now has information about every candidate.

You can search by location, such as your postcode or police force areas, or by candidate name if you know somebody who is standing. 

The ChooseMyPCC website for the police and crime commissioner elections
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The ChooseMyPCC website for the police and crime commissioner elections.

Remember, your PCC’s ultimate aim is to cut crime and ensure your local police are effective. That’s a big responsibility so make sure you know what each candidate is offering.

The police.uk website is also a good place to find out more about your area, potentially providing insight into the issues that matter the most near you to help you to make an informed choice.

Do I need to register to vote? 

Yes. You need to be registered to vote in local elections. 

You must be aged 16 or over to register (or 14 or over in Scotland and Wales, where the voting age for devolved and local elections is lower). 

The deadline for registering to vote in the May 6 elections is 11:59 pm on 19 April. 

The good news is that even though many different elections are happening on May 6 you only need to register once. And, it’s very straightforward. 

The register to vote website has all the information. 

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The register to vote website.

What other local elections are taking place on May 6? 

Police and crime commissioner elections will happen across England and Wales on May 6 but there is also a raft of other polls going ahead in the two countries and Scotland. 

The Big Issue has put together a guide of all local elections on May 6 which tells you everything you need to know about local elections. 

In short, voters will be head to the polls and select: 

  • Local councillors in England 
  • Police and crime commissioners in England and Wales 
  • Parliamentarians and assembly members in Scotland, Wales and London
  • Directly elected mayors across England 

The best way to find out what’s happening near you is on your local council’s website. GOV.UK has a search feature listing websites for local councils.

If you’re after the nitty-gritty policy details, most political parties usually have a local website talking about the issues affecting your area. 

That’s it. Make sure you head to the polls and exercise your democratic duty next month. And remember, you will need to register to vote first. 

Still not convinced of the importance? Well, don’t take it to us. Listen to everyone’s favourite council hero, Jackie Weaver.