Only City of London and Metropolitan Police were spared this ignominious debacle.**
I had received my voting card about a month ago and e-mailed Ron Ball, an Independent candidate and former airline pilot who gave some surprisingly honest answers to some quite tough questions. They read:
Thanks for your letter and your questions. I'll do my best to answer them as best I can.
Sorry to disappoint at the first question, but I don't think that recruiting more full time officers is a credible option unless there is dramatic change in the budget. As it is Warwickshire is already planning to use £6 million of reserves next year which is 25% of the total. This is an area where I believe James Plaskitt is playing politics. I believe he is pledging extra officers knowing that it plays well with the public, and knowing that he can blame the government when they prove unaffordable. There is scope for more specials, and there is scope for increased powers for PCSOs, but as you know that is a decision for the chief constable.
When it comes to arming officers-whether it be with weapons or tazers-you enter the operational areas that are not directly the remit of the commissioner. I would be interested to hear the views of serving officers and would discuss those matters with the chief constable, but they are really matters for him. As far as generally arming officers is concerned I think we are a very long way from that and yours is one of only a very few that I've heard in favour.
Again, the matter of training won't be something that the commissioner will have control over. I am drawing up a list of topics that I will look into if elected and that is one of them. It will only be something that I can look into and ask questions about.
Probably not enough there to ensure your vote, but I have an absolute rule that I won't mislead in any way in order to get votes.
I replied again saying he had my vote anyway, if only for that last line.
Checking I would be able to swing the work van around to the local polling station at Trinity Church on Trinity Street, Royal Leamington Spa, I arrived to find this greeting me:
and wandered around the back of the church to be told that I should be prepared to queue as the vote must be cast by 10pm...and to make certain if I was in Bit A or Bit B to put my 'X' in the box.
I then got inside the polling station/ fellowship hall, to find this and wondered if all the other eager voters were just out of peripheral vision:
There was nobody is the room bar 6 bored looking pensioner "helpers" sat behind two tables, dunking Digestives into their tea and wondering why the strange bloke in the high-viz jacket was practically pissing himself laughing.
Ron Ball won Warwickshire...on a turnout of only 7% of voters and with only 33,231 votes overall.
This guy (and his 40 bretheren nationwide) now command a salary of between 65 and 100 THOUSAND pounds per year.
More importantly they have the power to fire the Chief Constable of their Police force.
The Goverment have spent 100,000,000 pounds on advertising and pushing this.
However, 93% of the local population in my county didn´t give a fuck.
In Gwent, one polling station reported NOBODY turned up to vote.
**And CNC and MoD, but they´re not street walkers so thhhhbbpp!!!