This year, we’re seeing ramped-up efforts to increase voter participation and engagement in elections right across the country, as we move towards the week of the UK’s 2024 local elections — including those for mayors, and our Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC).

The 2024 local elections, taking place on Thursday 2 May, serve as a critical indicator ahead of the anticipated general election in the second half of the year — with the date still to be confirmed by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. 

Elections are being held for councils and mayors in England and police and crime commissioners in England and Wales. However, voters are often unclear as to what the Police and Crime Commissioner role really means, leading to disengagement from the voting process.

Here’s a quick explainer to answer some of the key questions many still have on the Police and Crime Commissioner elections…

What elections are taking place on 2 May?

On May 2, 2024, there will be:

  • 10 combined authority or metropolitan mayoral elections (including the Mayor of London)
  • council elections in 107 local authorities
  • 37 elections for police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales

(Find out if there’s a local election in your area here.) 

What is a police and crime commissioner?

A Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is an elected official in England and Wales responsible for generally overseeing police forces.

Each police area elects a commissioner every four years, with the exception of police areas where responsibility for policing has passed to regional mayors – such as Greater London and Greater Manchester.

A Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) is an elected official in England responsible for generally overseeing both police forces and fire services. There are currently five Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners — for Cumbria, Essex, Staffordshire, North Yorkshire and Northamptonshire.

What is the role of a police and crime commissioner?

The Association of Police Commissioners states on its website that the role of the PPC is “to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account.”

PCCs oversee community safety and set out force strategy and policing priorities in a Police and Crime Plan. Generally, they’re tasked with engaging stakeholders, including residents, community organisations, and advocacy groups, to inform policy decisions and drive meaningful reforms within the criminal justice system.

They’re also charged with holding the police fund — from which all policing of the area is financed, and hold responsibility for the appointment and (if necessary) suspension and dismissal of the Chief Constable.

What’s new for the May 2024 Police and Crime Commissioner elections?

Up until 2022, PCCs were elected using the supplementary vote system, under which voters could select a first and second preference candidate. But following the Elections Act 2022, this has changed to the ‘first-past-the-post’ system which is used for UK parliamentary elections.

In all local elections in England, voters will also now need photo ID to be able to cast their ballot, unlike previous elections.

Accepted forms of ID include:

  • a British passport
  • a driving licence
  • an Older Person’s or Disabled Person’s Bus Pass funded by the UK Government
  • an Identity card bearing the Proof of Age Standards Scheme hologram (a PASS card)
    (For the full list, head here)

According to the Electoral Commission, you can still use your photo ID if it’s out of date, as long as it looks like you, but the name on your ID should be the same name you used to register to vote.

Why is it important for us to be able to elect police commissioners?

By directly electing police commissioners through local elections, citizens are able to influence policing practices and address issues relevant to their own neighbourhoods. This democratisation of policing governance is intended to foster greater transparency, responsiveness, and ultimately our trust in law enforcement institutions.

What does it mean for the police and law enforcement agencies?

The election of police commissioners has major implications for the operations of law enforcement across the UK. With elected officials at the helm, there’s a renewed emphasis on aligning policing strategies with the diverse needs and priorities of local communities.

How will communities potentially benefit?

The introduction of police commissioners brings a layer of accountability that extends beyond internal police structures. By subjecting policing practices to public scrutiny through the electoral process, there’s heightened pressure to deliver results, address systemic challenges, and uphold standards of professionalism and integrity.

What are the concerns or challenges of elected PPCs?

Concerns have been voiced about the potential politicisation of law enforcement and the risk of elected officials prioritising electoral interests over public safety imperatives.

What’s expected to happen this year?

The Conservative party has traditionally done well in police and crime commissioner elections. Of the 35 PCCs in England, 30 are currently Conservative.

Joe Twyman, founder of independent public opinion consultancy Deltapoll, said: “It will be really interesting to see how many of those they can hold on to. If they lose all of them, then I think that that’s really, really bad news for the Conservatives.”

 

Our upcoming programme for 2024

Business relies on those in government to support them in driving forward initiatives which will help tackle their greatest challenges and facilitate growth; and as we head towards the general election, the need for an open dialogue between business and policy makers has never been greater.  

ITN Business is pleased to be partnering with the Institute of Directors (IoD) on a programme The Business Ballot: A Road Map for the Next UK Government, presented by Duncan Golestani, launching in September 2024.

Watch the clip below to find out more.


There are commercial opportunities for leading organisations to be featured in the programme and spearhead their own news item. If your organisation wants to share what you stand for and be part of this important conversation, please contact ITN Business’ Programming Directors Michael Holt or Isabella Sharp.