IT would be difficult to overstate the importance of next week’s elections to be West Yorkshire’s first elected Crime Commissioner.
Four candidates are standing in West Yorkshire and whoever steps into the role of Police and Crime Commissioner will directly replace the 17 people who made up the West Yorkshire Police Authority.
In the new commissioner’s hands will lie the responsibility for holding West Yorkshire Police and its Chief Constable to account on behalf of local people.
And therein lies the magnitude of the task. Yes there will be budgets to oversee and wider responsibilities such as community safety, crime reduction and effective policing to deliver.
But what the public will be watching most closely is the person holding those who deliver our police services to account. Who ensures that policing is effective, fair and transparent. And above all, who will be making those decisions on our behalf.
The biggest problem with what is now a fast approaching election is the fact that it has been well nigh invisible.
All that has dropped through people’s doors is a voting card. There has been no literature, no leafleting, no real campaigning except at a national level to tell us that an election is taking place, let alone who the local candidates are.
And how can you vote to give someone such responsibility when you have little idea who they are?
So the question is, was this really the best way to run this election particularly when the leadership of our police force is under scrutiny like never before?
After all, how likely is it to result in a commissioner to whom the public feels any real connection or in whom they have any real faith. And they have never needed both more.