On 15th November, the polls opened to elect the first Police and Crime Commissioner of Nottinghamshire, with the student vote being collected throughout Nottingham, including areas such as Lenton and Wollaton as well as the Portland Building.
The new position will grant the occupant overall administrative control of the force by allowing them to set the force’s budget, appoint and dismiss the chief constable and set local priorities in an effort to increase policing accountability.
Impact spoke to students at polling stations in Lenton, Portland and Dunkirk throughout the day. Most mentioned the importance of turning out to vote, and raised concerns about the crime rate in Lenton. The latter was an issue raised by many first years, who expressed concern about their safety in an area where many will reside in future years.
Candidates were either affiliated with one of the national parties, or stood as Independent. Students decided how to vote partly based on direct research of the candidates’ manifestos and previous experience. For some, it was a matter of sticking with their party political allegiances.
Impact reporters could gather no indication from students as to a dominant candidate, due to a high variation in student preferences.
Responses to the establishment of the position itself was polarised. It was felt by some that it would grant the public a greater say in how the police are run and lead to greater accountability, while others maintained reservations due to the fears that it would only lead to the gradual politicisation of the institution. Again, a high variation in student preference led to no indication of a dominant position.
One woman voting in Lenton’s Monty Hind Club polling station questioned whether or not it was “a legitimate election”, given her impression of a low voter turnout.
Another bone of contention was the publicity the election attracted. While some responses suggest that there was information given in lectures and Halls by Students’ Union Officers and Student Representatives, more students felt that the Students’ Union should have done much more to inform the student body about the event. Classics student Camilla Goodall, said “I don’t think we’ve had any information”.
At the polling station in Dunkirk, just 18 people had voted by 1.30pm.
Impact noted that there were no signs leading to the Lenton voting station, despite the area being one of the central locations of student residents. However one of the registrar’s in the station said that “young people have been very good this year”.
Some students admitted to voting only voting because they noticed the polling station. Criticism was also directed at the Council due to the lack of information about the vote and its candidates.
When David Miliband, Minister of State for Communities and Local Government under Tony Blair’s premiership, came to Nottingham, he told Impact that the government has not “explained what the elections are for, and one of the reasons politics gets into disrepute is if people don’t know what they’re voting for. I think that’s the tragedy”.
Some students noted that their peers were unwilling to engage with electoral issues and that this made the Students’ Union’s task all the more difficult.
Daniel Brown and Daniel Kennedy
Additional reporting by Dylan Williams and Lydia Cockerham
Update 10.30am Friday 16th November
Paddying Tipping has been elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire.
Turnout in Nottingham of 16.77%, below the national average of approximately 18%.