TODAY is D-day when West Yorkshire will have its first ever Police and Crime Commissioner.
Many shunned the polls yesterday but others did make the effort to exercise their democratic right.
The new role, which in this region is attracting a £100,000 a year salary, poses the most radical shake-up to policing in more than 50 years.
West Yorkshire candidates hoping to secure the top job were: Golcar Clr Andrew Marchington (Lib Dem), Clr Geraldine Carter (Cons), Labour’s Clr Mark Burns-Williamson and Independent former senior detective Cedric Christie.
More than 300 polling stations were manned across Kirklees and Calderdale from 7am to 10pm yesterday at community centres, libraries and schools.
Voters were able to list their first and second preferences under the supplementary vote system, which is being used in force areas where more than two candidates are standing.
Elections were being held in the 41 police areas outside London but experts had claimed turnout could be as low as 15% as a combination of apathy, lack of awareness and cold weather keeps voters at home.
Today the count for the West Yorkshire Crime Commissioner election is taking place in Huddersfield at Cathedral House on St Thomas’s Road at Folly Hall. The count starts at 11am with a result expected mid afternoon.
Police and Crime Commissioners will be responsible for setting priorities for their police force, overseeing its budget and hiring the chief constable. That will be the first task in West Yorkshire following Sir Norman Bettison’s recent resignation after he became caught up in the Hillsborough controversy.
Sir Hugh Orde, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said there would be “huge issues” if the proposed commissioners’ local demands were met at the expense of national priorities such as child protection, anti-terrorism and major crime units.
But supporters insist it will improve accountability among police forces and make them more aware of the priorities of local demands.
Labour is opposed to the creation of the new role but is fielding candidates across the forces, claiming it will do what it can to make the system work.
Party sources say they do not expect to win the highest number of PCCs but are aiming to take control of most major forces and, therefore, the majority of policing outside London.
Just 54 of the 192 candidates standing are not being linked to a political party.
MICHELLE DAVIES , 44, of Lindley, said: “It’s important to have your voice heard by voting.
“What’s the point in having a vote if no-one turns out.”
JOEL DAVIES , 40, of Lindley, added: “I think the election is a good idea. If you have a vote you should use it.”
MUKUNDA GUHA , 84, of Lindley, said: “I think its important to vote in all elections but I don’t think the PCC will make any difference to policing priorities in our area.”
ANDREW PETRIE , 37, of Gledholt, said: “I am in two minds about the PCC.
“I think the election campaign has been a half-hearted effort. The role is blurring the boundaries of policing and politics.”
MAUREEN STANLEY , 76, voted at Brighouse.
She said: “Nobody came to canvass us like they do in elections and we don’t have the internet to look it up.
“I do think it’s better to have one accountable person rather than the panel of the Police Authority.”
KEITH STANLEY , 75, of Brighouse, added: “I think its a waste of money. I think they just want the limelight.”